Joynagarer Moa- The Story Of A Dessert That Defines A Town
Image Credit: Ayandrali Dutta

In West Bengal, dessert shops are busy and lively in the winter, luring customers in to enjoy the specialties. Among these, the well-known Moa of Joynagar is a clear favourite. During wintertime, a meal becomes boring and incomplete without this sweet. Moa is a winter treat that melts in the mouth despite being incredibly soft and delicate.

What Is Joynagorer Moa?

Around the Jayanagar/Baharu region, there is a unique type of paddy known as Kanakchur. The lump is created when this paddy is used to make khoi and combined with fresh, in-season nolen gur. When khoya, cashew nuts, raisins, pista, and ghee are mixed with this lump, one gets the amazing delicious moa.

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The Origin Of Joynagarer Moa

This ancient town Joynagar-Majilpur is named after the local goddess and deity, Ma Joychandi. With time Joychandinagar and Joynagar became the alternate names for the city. Joyangar, also referred to as "the cradle of moa," is a special winter treat that Bengalis hold in the highest regard.

According to legend, a Baharu farmer once combined khoi from kanakchur dhaan with nolen gur, forming them into balls. The zamindar of the area was thrilled when he fed it to him. He suggested that the farmer sell it at the neighbourhood markets. Though the brand and name changed much later, this was the start of the moa's incredible journey.

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About a century ago, two young people from Joynagar, Purnachandra Ghosh (Purna) and Nityagopal Sarkar (Buchki), began selling the item in local winter markets by using the same recipe as the farmer from Baharu. It became well-known as Buchkir Moa very quickly, and that name was later changed to Joynagarer Moa.

They created the store Shri Krishna Mistanna Bhandar in 1929, and the Purnachandra Ghosh family still owns and operates it today. This store was the first in the area to brand the fabled confection and is also the oldest continuously operating moa shop.

Another one of Baharu's oldest confectioneries, Shyamsundar Sweets, is also the source of the original Joynagarer Moa. Under Gopal Chandra Ghosh's support, the shop opened in 1978 and is currently run by his two sons. Each day, they produce roughly 10,000 pieces of moa. To maintain the supply chain during the winter, both skilled and unskilled labourers are hired.

One of Bengal's oldest cottage industries, the moa sector requires a lot of labour. This is where nolen gur, or jaggery derived from date palm juice, is made, which is the primary component of moa. Moa is a blend of all the good items like cashew nuts, cardamom, kismis, khoi (puffed rice), nolen gur, and gawa ghee.

Sap from date trees is harvested early in the morning, and it is a very labour-intensive process. Shuli first makes angular cuts in the date trees' trunks, places a nol (pipe) at the point of cut, and fastens an earthen pot there. Date sap gradually seeps into the pot through the pipe. After four to five days, this procedure is repeated because this kind of collection yields the highest quality and smoky, bright flavour of nolen gur. After that, the golden-coloured juice is slowly boiled to create nolen gur, a thick, viscous jaggery (one litre of nolen gur is made by boiling ten litres of date tree sap).

Frying Kanakchur paddy, which is grown organically in a very limited number of places in and around Joynagar during the winter, produces khoi, or puffed rice. After the temperature has dropped, the khoi is combined with the nolen gur in a large iron pot with a wooden ladle. To prepare the moa, specific amounts of khoya kheer, pistachio, cashew nuts, raisins, cardamom powder, and gawa ghee are added.

When the mixture cools, generous amounts of ghee are applied to the hands to begin shaping the moa. Only in Joynagar one can indulge in this rich dessert, as the ingredients are sourced from excellent quality sources.

Image Credit: Ayandrali Dutta

GI Tag

Joynagarer Moya had to endure a rigorous examination and documentation process for more than two years in order to receive the title from the GI researchers in Chennai, who function as an extension of the business and enterprise service.

The Joynagar moya producers first tried to apply for GI status on their own, but they ran into some difficulties. This was because the market was overrun with fake and cheaper assortments during the winter. But finally, they received the GI tag after many rigorous processes.

GIs are those that can only be traced back to a specific region or locality, where a particular attribute of the good can be found. Additionally, the tag makes sure that the popular item's name can only be used by the authorised users.


Today, one can taste Joynagarer moa from every corner of the world. Every winter, Bengalis order and export moya. Through small nibbles and word-of-mouth, the dessert has become a personal favourite for many.