Epitomizing Kolkata’s penchant for sweet dishes, the mishtis that you get here cannot go unmentioned! It is the only place in the world where you can expect to get varieties of delectable, home-made mishtis; (Bengali word for sweet dishes) made using sometimes gur, sometimes, chenna, sometimes sugar syrup and an unending supply of love and care for the food’s charm. The mishtis of Kolkata are not just a dish, it’s an emotion.
And the ones who bring to us these have their own stories to narrate, stories about inspiration and nostalgia.
At Kolkata, you can expect to meet sweets sellers who go door to door to sell shondesh and barfis. The sweets made using sugar syrup is usually sold on the streets. Apart from the swanky outlets that sell sweets from the shiny counters; you can find mishti makers also at Dal Housie, Ezra Street and few other such lanes of Kolkata.
I met Shinjini and her mother at Lansdowne market, selling delicious, warm rosogullas and mishti doi. They had just come to the market after visiting the nearby locality. The enticing mishti doi in the earthen containers had me craving for it in an instant! It was my favourite of all the Bengali sweets. A healthier alternate to ice creams, mishti doi is the perfect way to end a meal! My cousins, when they come over to Kolkata from USA, this is the first thing they would want!
Shinjini accompanied her mom to the market and helped her to sell the mishti to the customers. Just like her mishti, she too was an adorable child! A warm smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye mirrored the vibe of the city that was welcoming a new year! Yes, it was Poila Baisakh (Bengali New Year) A lot of other mishti sellers from Shinjini’s neighborhood had come to supply houses with the mouthwatering stock of mishti.
While Shinjini’s mother spoke with the customers and attended their requests; Shinjini took over the responsibility of handling the money! All of 8, she had learnt to be the perfect little treasurer to her mom’s venture! On weekdays she would go to school and learn about the oceans the planets and on weekends the market was her play zone.
As we spoke, Shinjini told me about the sweets, ‘Didi, aapni mishti nebe na?’ (Didi, won’t you buy some sweets?) I said, yes of course I will! How much for the mishti doi? With a warm smile she replied – ‘Kudi taka!’ (Rs. 20) Handing me my choice of mishti doi, she carefully kept the money in a green cloth bag provided by her mom.
I asked her which is her favourite mishti? to which her mom replied – ‘Rosogulla khete bhalo lage oke, badite khai jokhon oder dida banay’ (She enjoys eating rosogulla, she eats Rosogulla at home when her dadi makes it) Shinjine nodded in agreement! 🙂
After a good 15 min chat, I took her leave and left for home with a warmth in my heart and a good serving of the yummiest mishti doi, all the way from Serampore, thanks to Shinjini and her mom! 🙂