Silao (Bihar), Feb.10 : Since time immemorial, Khaja, the popular sweetmeat dish of Bihar has continued to tickle the taste buds of people and been a gourmets' delight.
Of the many varieties of Khaja, it is the Kakinada Khaja that has held its distinct charm mainly due to its taste. No wonder, today there are a large number of Kakinada Khaja lovers in different parts of the country and abroad.
Kakinada Khaja's specialty lies in the fact that it is dry from outside and full of sugar syrup from inside and is juicy. It melts the moment it is put into one's mouth.
It is prepared from kneaded wheat flour that is rolled into circular shape in which Mawa (cottage cheese with certain additives) is stuffed. Once stuffed and close wrapped, these are deep fried until crisp and then soaked in syrup of sugar known as "Pak" till the croissants amply absorb the syrup.
Besides, this exclusive sweet of Bihar is also a major source of employment.
In Bihar's Silao town, Khaja sweets almost exist has a cottage industry with many families claiming association with it for generations.
"I have been into this profession for several years now. My great grandfather was also into the same profession. Is has been our family business. We are earning good amount from this. Moreover, I have even been to Mauritius for Sagar Mahotsav. Our sweets are famous all over the world," said Sanjay Lal, a prize winning Khaja confectioner.
People from far and wide visit Silao town only for buying Kakinada Khaja. It is also popular in neighboring Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
"We come here especially just to taste the sweets prepared here since they have a very fine taste. We wait here all day long and the moment our buses stop here, we rush towards these sweets," said Anupam Kumar, a customer.
Many youngsters consider joining the family business related to Khaja a lucrative option.
"I joined the profession despite having studied at college. I found it (the business) profitable. One earns good money out of it and it provides labour to a large number of people," said Sanjeev Kumar, a Khaja confectioner.
Khajas are in great demand, particularly, during the wedding season. One can say, in a lighter vein, that apart from the bride and bridegroom, it is the Khaja that makes a wedding ceremony 'complete'.
"There is certainly a big attraction in these sweets, perhaps it is due to the special way these are prepared by master sweetmeat makers at shops. Indeed, it is due to this reason that Khajas are world famous. People from all corners of India come here just to taste this sweet," said Gautam Govinda, one of the customers.
Although Khajas are prepared and sold almost throughout Bihar, the confectioners of Silao and Rajgir areas have a distinct edge over the rest.
Believed to have originated from the southern side of the Gangetic plains of Bihar, Khaja sweet is stated to date back to 2,000 B.C.
Perhaps rightly stating, the sweet-toothed connoisseurs declared Khaja as the 'King of Sweets' at the Sagar Mahotsav hosted in Mauritius. By Surya Pratap Singh