Some foods are so traditional that they have taken on a somewhat unusual name. Kheermohan is one of those sweets! The origin of this popular sweet is unknown, but there are many theories behind the name. One theory suggests that the name comes from how delicious this sweet is. Another theory suggests that it comes from a mispronunciation of the sweet maker’s name.
If you’re traveling through Bandel railroad station anywhere between Katwa and Nabadwip, in your travels you probably won’t miss all the hawkers selling their sweets at top volume trying to get you to buy something. A favorite with passengers on Katwa-Bandel trains is Kheermohan, made locally by Ghosh Mihir Kaj.
Where To Find This Bengali Sweet?
There are many trains in this particular railway line. (Bandel to Katwa). We decided to take a train from Bandel because we wished to taste some of the famous Kalna Makha Sandesh. On our way back from Kalna, the train appeared to be passing from what seemed like one locality, and before we even realized it, we were at Somrabazar. This was all owing to my friend Narottam Das because he owns a shop at Somrabazar!
You can also order this Bengali sweet from www.indiacuisine.net or India Cuisine
Because we love history so much, I think we all know about a very famous tussle between Odisha and Bengal over whose homemade sweets are the tastiest. Personally, I believe it's a bit of a stretch because there are lots of great sweet shops and juice centers in both of these states that serve wonderful things, but what can we do? It is a fact that Rasogolla originated in Odisha.
We're sure you've heard the story:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was visiting Oriya friends when they fed him their traditional homemade confection called Kheer Mohn (whose salt-free cousin is Rasgulla). How do we know this story so well? Because the Hindu monks recorded it nearly 500 years ago!
As the legend goes on to tell us, Sri Caitanya found Kheer Mohn so incredible delicious that he recommended one of his devotees make more for everyone to enjoy. And who did he recommend? Outstanding members from his own community, who were orginally from Santipur and Phulia.
Kheermohan is a very popular sweet in Odisha , But back in Bengal , Khaer, another name for Kheermohan, is just not as common . In Odisha , it’s served with sugar syrup, but here , its a slightly drier version ( squeezed off the sugar-syrup). You see, I love all versions of Kheermohan though ! I won’t judge which one tastes better!
What Is Kheermohan Made Of?
Now, if I try to explain to you how Kheermohan is made, it’s somewhat analogous to Rasgulla but much longer-cooked. Naturally the colour will darken and the texture becomes coarse - almost granular. The main ingredient: Chhena (Cottage Cheese) and sugar syrup. It’s sweetened very heavily. Some experts say you can put one Nakuldana inside each Kheermohan , but that is becoming scarcity for most bakers as it adds more production cost.
Why Is Kheermohan Hard to Find?
Kheermohan is a Bengali specialty that's commonly sold by one type of vendor, called a hawker. It seems like most of these are found in the Bandel Katwa rail route, though I have seen them sold in sweetshops as well occasionally. As for why they're so hard to find, it's just perplexing to me, but I choose not to ponder further because I don't actually need an answer for every mystery in this world - let things be as they are sometimes!
Challenge for makers of Kheermohan sweets:
As the local train system is under fire from leaders, naturally sales for this sweet are down. Unfortunately, it's becoming extinct. I was taken to the home of Narottam Das who is one of the pioneers of this sweetmakers. And he is not strong enough himself. People like him, who used to sell this sweets in local trains every day, are retiring and the next generation is not interested. At least we can document their connection between Bengal and Odisha here.
Eating Wholesome at Dhaba:
A Sai Baba Dhaba, on the way back from Somrabazar: If you went to Somrabazar by your own vehicle, there is a nice dhaba (restaurant) called Sai Baba on the way back. It’s a regular roadside establishment that does a lot of takeaways and has room for only about 10-12 people.
Its menus are written in English and Bihari, so ordering can be tricky if you don’t speak Bhojpuri but this should not be an issue as their recipes are fairly uncomplicated! I remember very little of the prices here because they were all identical except certain dishes were slightly more expensive than others - and one dish was pricier than all the rest! After a good meal at Somrabazar, I definitely think Sai Baba Dhaba provided the best value for money in terms of portions and flavour.