Bogra Yogurt. File Photo
More or less Yogurt is always produced in all the districts of the country. But since the beginning of the last century till now Bogra yogurt has been the foremost in terms of unique taste, quality, popularity, and reputation. There is a lot of demand for this yogurt in different districts including Dhaka. It is even going abroad beyond the borders of the country.
Bogra's famous Sara (Clay pot) yogurt has been recognized as a Geographical Indication (GI) on June 25. The Department of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks (DPDT), an institution under the Ministry of Industries, has approved Bogra Sara yogurt as a GI product following an application by the Bogra Restaurant Owners Association. As a result, the status of Bogra yogurt as Bangladesh's own product will increase in the world, as well as the export will be facilitated. GI recognition will play a major role in determining the quality and price of these products.
If the culture of the population plays the most important role in the production of a product in the context of soil, water, and climate of a specific territory of a country, then it is recognized as a GI product of that country. The list of GI products in the country includes Jamdani, Hilsa, Kshirshapati mango, Muslin, Bagda shrimp, Kalijira rice, White soil of Vijaypur, Silk of Rajshahi, Shataranji of Rangpur, Kataribhog rice of Dinajpur, Fazli mango of Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj, Langra and Ashwina mangoes of Chapainawabganj and Kachagolla of Natore.
Mafuzul Islam, vice president of Bogra Chamber, said that more than one crore rupees worth of yogurt is sold in Bogra district every day. According to that, about Tk 400 crores worth of yogurt is bought and sold annually. Sweets are sold for about Tk 300 crore. Apart from this, thousands of people in the Pal community earn their living by making clay pots and pots.
As Bogra Yogurt at the peak of fame
Once upon a time, people of the Ghosh community used to go around the village and sell Bogra yogurt. Business patterns have changed over time. Now traders sell yogurts in well-decorated showrooms in the city. Bogra's Sara yogurt is very popular in entertaining guests on various festivals and social occasions including weddings, Eid, Paila Baisakh, or New Year. Through expatriate Bangladeshis and foreign tourists, different flavors of Bogra yogurt are going to different countries of the world including India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, USA, UK, Canada, Italy, Japan, Australia, and Europe. Diaspora traders are also making and selling Bogra yogurt abroad with artisans.
Local poet and fiction writer Bajlul Karim Bahar said that the journey of Bogra yogurt started around 1860 or 1870 around one and a half hundred years ago by Nilakantha Ghosh of Ghoshpara in Sherpur Upazila of Bogra. Since then, the people of the Ghosh community used to make sourdough and fill it in small pots and sell it in villages. At the beginning of the last century, Shri Gaur Gopal Pal of Ghoshpara started selling yogurt in Bogra town. After that under the patronage of Nawab Altaf Ali Chowdhury of Bogra (father of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mohammad Ali) Gaur Gopal Pal started yogurt production in Bogra town. Two descendants of Gaur Gopal, Bimal Chandra Pal, and Swapan Chandra Pal, are still running the ancient shop called 'Shri Gaur Gopal Dadhi and Misthanna Bhandar' on Nawabbari road in Bogra town.
Bogra Yogurt. Photo: Collected
Rumor has it that after partition, Pakistan's Prime Minister Mohammad Ali once entertained members of parliament by feeding him curd. In 1938, the fame of Bogra Yogurt first reached abroad. Early that year, when Sir John Anderson, the then British Governor of Bengal, visited Nawabbari in Bogra, he was given a special kind of yogurt in a glass container. Impressed by the delicious taste of yogurt, Bogur took the yogurt to England. Some seniors said that Bogra yogurt was also taken for the Queen of England. But nothing written about it is available.
Local elders said that in the fifties of the last century, along with the Ghosh, Muslims also got involved in curd making. Among them, a person named Abdur Rahman of Baghopara in Bogra Sadar started production of Rafat yogurt and Muharram Ali yogurt in the city.
In the 1980s, the introduction of Sara yogurt started, which quickly became popular due to its unique taste. Businessmen said that in the eighties, businessman Ahsanul Kabir opened a well-equipped showroom called 'Daighar' in Bogra town and brought modernity and innovation to the sale of yogurt in pots and pans. Asia Sweets recently responded by making different flavored yogurts. After that, the business started to develop rapidly.
Presently yogurt is produced in 12 upazilas including Bogra district city. However, the business of yogurt is more in the district town and Sherpur upazila. Partha Kumar Saha, the owner of Baikali Dai-Mishti House in Sherpur, said that due to long experience, quality control, and the hygienic environment of the factory, the yogurt market has grown gradually. He said that many Ghoshbaris and factories do not sell yogurt in retail. Various companies make yogurt from them and sell it under their own name.
During the conversation, Ghoshera
said that usually 26-29 leaves of yogurt are used in 40 liters of milk. 6 kg of
sugar is required to make sweet yogurt. Each Sara contains 500 to a maximum of 700
grams of yogurt. Each Sara is sold at Tk 180 to 300 depending on the size of
the Sara, the price of milk and sugar, and festivals.