Foods (Cuisine) of Odisha
Cuisines of Orissa are simple and delicious and preparations are same as the neighboring states of Bihar and West Bengal due to the similar food habits. Non-vegetarian dishes out of prawns, crabs, fish, eggs, chicken and mutton are also relished, rice and fish (both salt and fresh water) being the most popular Odia-meal.
Common Odia delicacy
Pakhala, made out of rice and water, fermented overnight is relished in rural areas and is very popular in summer. A typical odia meal consists of few main dishes. In breakfast breads are the main dish, whereas in lunch and dinner rice is eaten with dal. The main dishes also include one or more vegetables curries and pickles. Other famous vegetarian dishes are Dalma (made of vegetables boiled together with dals and fried with spices) and Santula (a mix of boiled vegetable with Pancha-phutan). Ghanta and Posta curries are also some of the Odia dishes.
Orissa food habit is balanced between the non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. Due to its vast shoreline, number of rivers flowing across, numerous tanks and reservoirs, fish is an important part of the diet, including sea foods like Prawn, Crab and lobster. The great Chilika Lake is famous for offering the best sea food cuisines, a lifetime experience.
Odia food habit is the mix of the South Indian and the North Indian foods. One can find Dosas, Vadas and Idlis as breakfast/ snacks, which are south Indian and also the Poori- Chhola, Samosas, the north Indian menu. Best combination of the North and South Indian food is Dahibara-Aludum-Ghuguni: Dahibara (vada dipped and soaked in curd), aludum (a spicy potato curry) and Ghuguni (chick-pea curry) go together in the best fusion of Indian recipes.
Rice and Vegetable Delights
Paddy is the main food crop; hence rice is the staple diet of the Odia people. Vegetables grown in plenty form essential component of the meal in the Odia diet. A mixture of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and black cumin, locally called as ‘Pancha-phutana’ is used for seasoning of vegetables and dals. Besides rice and vegetables, people also relish fish and other sea food delicacies, like prawns, crabs and lobsters, available in plenty in the bounties of ponds, reservoir, rivers, long coastline and Asia’s largest lagoon Chilka.
Curd and Coconut milk as Essential Flavor
The Odia delicacies are calorie free, due to less oil but the preparations are spicy and tasty. Curd and coconut milk are of great use in the diets; the curd being creamy gives additional flavor. Not only the sea foods are traditionally cooked in curd and coconut milk but brinjals and pumpkins are also cooked in curd, with mustard seeds to give extra zing.
'Mahaprasad’- the Food of Lord Jagannath
The traditional delicacy ‘Mahaprasad’, the sacred foods offered to Lord Jagannath at Puri is available at the ‘Anand Bazar’ of the Temple. The specialty of ‘mahaprasad’ preparation lies in its massive temple kitchen, the largest kitchen in the world. About 1000 highly efficient cooks, work around 752 wood-burning clay fireplaces, to feed over 10,000 people daily.
The varieties of pithas like chakuli, chitou, bara, arisha, kakara, monda,etc. are traditional delicacies made out of powdered grams and rice. These require expertise for preparation, used as snacks, liked by both the locals and the tourists.
Odia people are also very fond of sweets and many Orian sweet dishes are quite popular all over India. Milk preparations like Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Khirmohan, Rasabali, Rabidi and Chhenapoda are fabulous, once tasted then just irresistible.
- The famous Indian sweet ‘rasagolla’ has its origin from Odisha, Salepur Rasogolla (of Bikalananda Kar) and Pahala Rasogolla are famous all over India.
- The rice pudding kheeri (kheer) originated in Puri 2000 years ago, is relished all over India.
- Chhenapoda of Nayagarh is a major sweet cuisine, made by caramelizing cheese with sugar, cardamom and other ingredients and grilling it over a wood-burning clay chulla
- Chhena Jheeli and Malpua are other famous sweet delicacies of Odisha.
- Kakara Peetha, made out of sooji, finely grained wheat, especially filling with coconut with pepper, cardamom, sugar and ghee is a famous delicacy.
- Arisha is another delicacy, which is the sweet aroma of powdered rice and Gud being deep fried in Ghee.
- Poda Pitha, Haladi Patra Pitha, Enduri pitha, Manda Pitha, Chakuli Pitha, Chitou Pitha are common examples of Odia specialties.
- Mudhi, the puffed rice and chuda the flat rice, are integral part of every Odia household. Baripada is famous for its Mudhi, which serves as instant snacks, perfectly blends with any thing: Chanachur, milk, tea, cud, curries, peanuts, groundnut, coconut, mango pulp or even non-vegetarian curries.