Rabrigram is the name given to the villages of Ainya and Gangpur in West Bengal which boast of numerous rabri units.

One of these is the famous ‘Maa Kali Rabri Bhandar’.

At the helm of the operations is 28-year-old Avijit Patra who narrates the story of how the sweet was born in the city.

He credits a gentleman, Pannalal Balti, a sweetmaker who worked in Bhawanipur, Kolkata, in the 1980s.

Dissatisfied with his employer, Pannalal quit and set up his own shop in Ainya village where he churned large quantities of rabri.

Avijit notes how families across Hooghly began joining Pannalal in his quest to make the dessert.

Soon, more than 70 families were part of the sweet-making process. All of these now have their own bhandars.

Avijit’s father worked closely with Pannalal as well.

“We also started the Ainya Rabrigram Industrial Cooperative Society Ltd with all the rabri makers who had worked with Pannalalji,” says Avijit.

When he took over operations, he introduced hygiene protocols in the kitchens, switched to LPG and encouraged the unit workers to obtain their food licences.

Today, 18 women are part of the Maa Kali Rabri Bhandar. Each of them earns Rs 20,000 per month approximately.

But even in the face of stiff competition by the presence of numerous bhandars, Avijit isn’t worried.

“Maa Kali Rabri Bhandar sells 600 kg of rabri a day across Kolkata. We just focus on our legacy and the one Pannalalji left behind.”