Human civilization carries a number of similarities and diversities so far as the food, clothing, habitation, language, culture, rite, religion etc. of a locality / region / tract are concerned. Local proverb (kosa kosake pani, tin kosake bani) says that water changes after three kilometers (1 kosa) and dialect changes after 10 kilometers (3 kosa). It is the people who adopt a particular thing for their food, language, religion etc. after interactions among the biotic, abiotic agents and human beings themselves over a long span of time.
Gondia is a revenue block of Dhenkanal district of Odisha. The river Brahmani flows from west to east dividing the district laterally into two halves and the river bank of Gondia, Bhuban, Kamakhyanagar and Sadar is full of grass vegetation. Besides this, both hilly terrains of the Eastern Ghat, forests, range lands and valleys have huge grass and fodder tree vegetation. It is reported that thousands of people were earning their livelihood through animal husbandry, especially buffalo rearing during British – Royal era, i.e. long before independence. This region was the hinterland of buffalo milk production. Cheese was the third largest produce after milk and curd. People had a number of value added products produced from cheese and Magji is one of them. The Mandar – Sadangi area of Gondia block is believed to be the centre of origin of the sweet stuff “Magji”. But, as of now, it has spread to the entire Dhenkanal district. Many confectioners of Bhuban, Mandar, Kashipur, Sadangi, Gondia, Bidharpur, Deogaon and Dhenkanal town are now preparing the sweet. As the preparation and sale of the sweet is spread over the whole district, the geographical area of production is considered to be entire Dhenkanal district of the state.
As per local information, this sweet has originated since time immemorial, may be more than 100 years. It was found from records that Magji was one of the famous food items of Dhenkanal in ancient times. During 1300 – 1400 AD, a saint namely Sridhar Swami was staying in Kapilas and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had visited Sridhar Swami and learnt about the Bhagabat from Sridhar Swami. During his stay, Sridhar Swamy had offered sweets prepared from buffalo milk cheese to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which became famous as Magji later on and local confectioners continued to prepare it. It is also found that the eminent story writer and odia Vyasakabi Fakirmohan Senapti had offered Chhatri of Mahima dharma & Magji to John Beames (the then Collector of Baleswar) during his visit to Dhenkanal.
Magji is prepared from buffalo milk cheese, sugar and small cardamom.At the outset fresh cheese is placed in a cotton cloth and pressed / squeezed to the extent so that maximum water is drained out from the stuff. Pan is placed on furnace with mild flame. Sugar @ 400 g / kg of cheese and cardamom (10-12 nos. / kg of cheese) powder is mixed into it. Then the optimally dewatered cheese is added to it i.e. poured into the pan. The entire stuff is mixed thoroughly and fried to the desired level. Then the fried stuff is placed on a flat surface, kept for 30-40 minutes and allowed to cool down to warm condition. At the optimum temperature the stuff is prepared in the form of small balls of desired diameter with palms. The sugar acts as the binding material and the balls become hard on being cooled down. Now these balls are called “Magji” and become ready for consumption / sale.
“Dhenkanal Magji” is a famous and unique sweet of Dhenkanal district. Its taste, flavour and method of preparation has made it as a unique sweet of the district. The skill of the local confectioners has made it more unique. The buffalo milk cheese adds unique flavor and cardamom powder adds unique aroma to it. Proportion of sugar and cheese, optimum period of frying, method of preparation of cheese to make it more tough, draining water from cheese to get optimum moisture content suitable for preparation of this sweet are some of the important points which make it unique.
Keeping in view of the uniqueness of Magji sweet, information was collected and documented for application of GI tag by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dhenkanal (OUAT). Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology (OUAT), being the authorized body of Govt. of Odisha, applied for it on behalf of Dhenkanal Sweets Association. After preliminary examination, the case was accepted and on further examination, GI registry authorities raised a series of queries and OUAT submitted compliance. Now, the case is in advanced stage of consideration and GI registry authority from Chennai are coming to Bhubaneswar on 6th December, 2022 to listen to the applicant / producers and verify the correctness of information. All citizens, people’s representatives, district administration, intellectuals and above all, common man of the district are quite hopeful for Dhenkanal Magji to bag GI tag. Apart from name & fame for the district & the state, GI tag to Dhenkanal Magji will certainly attract a huge business opportunity for the local confectioners, sweet stalls; bring change in the livelihoods of thousands of milk producers of the district and hence would add a new chapter to the development scenario of the district.