What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘traditional’?
Boring? Outdated? Forgotten?
Well, well, well!
Before you draw any judgements, let’s peek into Odisha’s most hot and enticing tradition: FOOD!
By the time you are done reading this, you will be as traditional as one can possibly be. So, all the foodies out there, just keep your plates ready and taste buds fresh!
Dalma is considered to be the mother of all Dals. It is not only tasty, but also highly nutritious. It is cooked by mixing vegetables with lentils, seasoned with a variety of spices. Mostly eaten with hot steam rice, Dalma is the must try dish in Odisha. What’s more? It is Lord Jagannath’s favourite dish also. Yes! Dalma is offered as Bhog to Lord Jagannath.
- Water Rice- Pakhala Bhata
Simplicity at its best! Our ‘Pakhala Bhata’ justifies this. Cooked rice which is little fermented, is a must try for all foodies out there! The hot sultry summer days calm down when you sit with a bowl of Pakhala Bhata. Not only this, but there are yummy variations of this dish like Zeera Pakhala, Dahi Pakhala etc. You can tingle your taste-buds by coupling this dish with fried veggies or fried fish. It is sure to be a relief to your senses when the sun takes a toll on you!
- Chakuli Pitha
Well, rest of India calls it ‘Dosa’. And the proud Odias call it ‘Chakuli Pitha’. And little does everyone know, this originated in Odisha! Yes. This Dosa like flat pankcake is full of nutrition and is usually eaten with coconut chutney, sambhar or simply sugar. The ideal breakfast made by every Odia bou!
- Ghaanta- Mixed Vegetable
Odias wait for festivals to enjoy this authentic dish. Ghaanta in Odia means ‘mixed’. This dish is basically prepared by mixing a variety of vegetables, spices, toppled with lentils. You would hardly find any other dish which is as nutritious as the Odia Ghaanta.
One common ingredient in odia dishes is Mustard seed. And besara is every odia’s favourite. This dish is also offered as Prasada to Lord Jagannath. Besara is also cooked with a lot of variations where the head ingredient, Mustard is grinded and made into a fine paste and used in cooking vegetables. In some parts of Odisha it is also used to cook fish. To make things tastier, the dish is made tangier by adding mangoes or tamarind to it. Oh! My mouth is already watering. What about you?
How tasty and important can a simple side dish be? Oh, if it’s the Odia Khatta, then hold on! It is more important than your bowl of rice! Khatta balances a meal with its nice sweet and sour flavour. The variations to this dish include tomato khatta, oou (Elephant Apple) khatta and aamba (raw mango) khatta. When teamed up with steam rice and Dalma, it is sure to be lip smacking!
- Badi Chura
This serves as a great accompaniment to the odia pakhala. This is again a very easy to make recipe which can be cooked in just minutes with the help of fried and crushed ‘Badis’ along with chopped chillies, garlic and onions. And, more than the taste, the aromatic smell of the crushed garlic and onion, is surely going to be therapeutic for the foodie in you!
- Dahi Maacha
How can the Odias not enjoy Non-Veg? That’s our life-line right? Dahi Maacha ensembles two of the Odia favourites: Dahi (Curd) and Maacha (Fish). This is one of the classic authentic curries which any Odia would be proud to be associated with. The mustard gravy blended with yoghurt along with fish is enough to keep one salivating. So, all the sea food lovers out there, go grab yourself a serving of this absolutely delightful dish!
- Chingudi Jhola
Being a coastal state, Odisha enjoys an amazing supply of sea-food. There is abundance of good prawns and fishes here. Chingudi (Prawns) is another favourite of the Odia masses. Jhola symbolises the curry or the gravy. Chingudi Jhola savoured with hot steam rice is a personal favourite for all the odias.
- Dahi Bara- Aaloo Dum-Ghuguni
How can you talk of Odisha and not mention Dahi Bara Aloodum Ghuguni? You ask any Odia and they will swear by this. This unique dish serves as a perfect any time snack. The most famous place, even now, for the dish is Cuttack, the former capital of the state. This will always be the highest recommended dish for any foodie who wants to try authentic Odia food. Bhai, plate te hau? (Brother, let’s have a plate of this?) Sorry, but you can’t simply avoid this question.
Besides these dishes, Odisha also has amazing stuff to entice the sweet tooth in you. The most famous sweet dishes include Rasabali, Rasagulla, Khasta Gaja, Chenna Gaja, Kheer Sagar and many more.
Salivating, are we? Honestly, I had a really hard time recollecting these days and controlling my hunger. So, let’s just wrap up this piece and get ourselves a serving of these yummy dishes. Enjoy!
[Story Courtesy: Ipsita Pattnaik]