In this trade of Bengal’s Mistanna(sweetmeats), Milk is one of the main and major ingredient. Artisans of Bengal has sharpen their craftsmanship since time immemorial, in this particular area, only by exposing different inherent properties, in many form, that Milk has. Milk, in different means and modes, is also the most popular food item to many in this world. As all of us know, it is sourced from mother’s udder, in post natal period, of every mammal. Moreover, it is the only food available to that particular new born animal species. But, Homo sapiens are the only species which has learn the art of stealing milk from other source and make use of it. At least old stories of folk collections say so, all over the world. In this process they have not even spared whales or lions, forget about others. Hence wide use of milk made possible in this universe in different ways by Human folks.
But, here our story is limited to cow or at the best buffalo milk. In greater Bengal it was cow which got preference than other, due to its consumer friendly nutritional and digestive properties. In Hindu civilization cow is considered as mother (gomata), as it bears so much of impact in our daily life. In spite of all the diversity in social and cultural spectrum, we have one thing in common in India, that is keeping and worshipping of Gomata. Indian food consuming pattern has so varied use of milk that it may require one Ramayana like description of its recipes.
In Bengal one unique lineage in the form of Mistanna developed in food habits. That has made a separate identity for Bengal to rest of India. With development in modes of communication in twentieth century, that fame of this milk based food specialty spread all over the world. Bengal’s epicenter Calcutta became the Mecca of sweetmeats, especially Rasogolla.
But in Bengal, one fact remained constant that all through its history, it was deficient in milk production. That had its impact on social as well as in this cottage industry arena. Scores of children, old and sick were forced to curtail milk, from their daily quota of dietary regime, due to shortage in milk supply. As a consequence milk product was banned totally in the sixties, hitting a hard blow to Bengal’s pride Mistanna. That prolonged censoring of this trade, made some permanent damage to this industry. Firstly, entrepreneurs did shift from this trade and secondly inflow of Artisans was at its low with its uncertain future.
Last blow of diminishing quality came when milk powders were imported from abroad to level supply with demand. Spurious milk and milk products flooded the market with other adulterants. Lack of infrastructural support on the part of authority hardly could take any effective measure. Initiative of the sweetmeat sellers association was futile as they were unable to gather enough resources for building an integrated quality control laboratory of their own. Hence, as it happened to other food products, Banglar Mistanna also had to compromise in quality to some extent.
Keeping all these factors in consideration, Chittaranjan group took the initiative of developing its own resource. One barren stretch of fallow land was chosen for this project. Lot of land reclamations process was under taken to make that barren patch fit for pasture and fodder cultivation. Many a farmers from nearing villages were adopted for imparting knowledge of animal husbandry. Finally, captive production with all facilities of modern milk process plant was erected. That has made an advantage to this organization to source milk of assured standard and access to produce quality sweetmeats.