If you’re anyhow connected to Bihar then you must have heard about “Silao Ka Khaja“. Khaja is a multilayered, crispy sweet and a conventional Bihari dessert. Of all the places you could get Khaja from, Silao- a town in Nalanda district of Bihar- is utterly prominent. On this December 11th, the Geographical Indications Registry has granted Geographical Indication or GI tag to Silao Khaja.
The GI tag is granted on the recommendation of the Chennai based Intellectual Property Appellate Board. It looks at the claims made by different locations and their specialties. The GI tag identifies a product as originating from a particular location and conveys assurance of quality and distinctiveness to the fact of its origin. The application was filed by “Silao Khaja Audyogik Swavlambi Sahkari Samiti Limited”. This committee has around 68 members, and most of them are involved in manufacturing and selling of the Silao Khaja.
GI Deputy Registrar Chinnaraja G Naidu told while granting this tag,
“We have granted GI tag to Silao Khaja on December 11. Silao Khaja is popular in Bihar and also among the tourists visiting Buddhist sites of Rajgir and Nalanda.”
The documents submitted by the applicant for the GI tag mentions the findings of British archaeologist J D Beglar who visited Silao in 1872-73 according to which Khaja or ‘Sweetmeat’, as he calls it, dates back to the period of King Vikramaditya. Silao Khaja also finds mentions in many legends and one of them claims that this was the sweet which was offered to Gautam Buddha while he was on his journey from Rajgir to Nalanda.
There are around 60 shops at Silao which are exclusively involved in selling of this Bihari dessert. Most of the shop owners are traditionally related to the manufacturing and selling of Khaja. This Bihari dessert comprises of around 15 layers of dough placed over one another. It has Wheat-flour, Sugar, Maida, Ghee, Cardamom and Aniseeds as its ingredients. It is deep fried until it turns crisp. The crisp croissants are then soaked in the sugar syrup until they absorb the sugar syrup.
In normal days, Silao Khaja can be used before 12 to 15 days after the date of manufacture. While during rainy season the robustness of the sweet reduces to two to three days. Khaja is also popular in the neighboring states of West Bengal and Odisha as well as Andhra Pradesh. According to a chemical analysis report submitted by Public Health Division of government of Bihar, high pH levels along with high Chlorine content of Silao region contribute to the puffiness and crispness of Khaja.
There are other popular Bihar originated food items like Maner Ka Laddoo and Gaya Ka Tilkut as well but they are still to get the GI tag. Madhubani Painting, Sujini Embroidery, Bhagalpuri Silk and recently added Shahi Lichi from Muzaffarpur have already got the GI tag. This GI tag simply means that these Bihari creations are visibly located on the world map and adding brownie points to the Bihari pride.