Odia Cuisine, India's best kept secret culinary delicacy
by IANS | Updated Dec 01, 2022
"The peacefully positioned province of Odisha in eastern India is renowned for its authentic, ancient tradition and is home to thousands of historic Hindu temples. The cuisines of Odia, which is nestled close to the coast, comprise rich, natural flavours that emanate eternal bliss," says Abinas Nayak, Masterchef Winner and Corporate Chef of Rroshashala.
IANSlife has compiled a collection of varied flavours from the famed Odia cuisine that will fill your hungry tummy and leave you satisfied.
During India's soul-sucking summers, the first thing people search for is iced tea or juice. What are the Odias up to? They eat a bowl of Pakhala to satisfy their spirits. Pakhala is created from fermented cooked rice and eaten the next day, ideally as a lunch, with green chilies, salt, and a spoon of curd to improve the meal's acidic flavour. Other side dishes offered with the hefty lunch include fried fish, crushed lentil dumplings, stir fry of fresh veggies, and chutneys. To replace the body's nourishment after the meal, sip the leftover Torai, the liquid half of the Pakhala.
Besara is the dish that best defines Odia cuisine. It is a traditional Odia cuisine (a light mustard paste) made by grinding black mustard seeds, cumin, garlic, and chillies, among other ingredients. The mustard paste is also used to make Chicken Besara, Fish Besara (fish cooked in mustard sauce), Vegetable Besara, and other cuisines. Besara is also one of the 56 bhoga (Mahaprasad) offerings made to Lord Jagannath at the Puri Jagannath Temple during midday.
The Mahaprasad of Abhada is served at the Puri Jagannath Temple, one of the four pilgrimage sites of the Char Dham Pilgrimage. Though the architectural grandeur and utmost majesty of the temple may attract everyone's attention, tourists must not overlook the temple's excellent Mahaprasad. One may not be able to eat all 56 delicacies provided to Lord Jagannath, still you can enjoy the flavour of some of them:
Kanika - Flavoured rice with ghee and sugar.
Mitha dali - A thick dal made from arhar dal (Pigeon pea/Legume) made with sugar and is sweet in taste.
Goti Baigana - A dish made of small eggplants and coconut sauce.
Mahura - A type of mixed vegetable curry that uses very basic ingredients like Kakharu (Pumpkin), Saru (Arbi/ Taro) Kanda Mula (Sweet potato).
Khata - A sour item made with cooked mango, apple, and grape mixed and cooked together.
Rasabali - A famous sweet dish made of milk, sugar, and wheat.
Crab and Prawn curry
How can a city so close to the sea not have delectable seafood? The coastal region is rich in seafood that pairs well with steamed rice. Apart from fish, crab and prawn curries are popular in Indian cuisine. The curry is made with freshly caught crabs and prawns that have been properly cooked with a variety of spice combinations, tomatoes, onion, fresh green chillies, and ginger garlic paste, which adds a peppery note to the curry. Once the sauce has reached the desired temperature, a dash of all-Indian favourite garam masala is added to the curry to improve the texture and flavour. Then, voila, a warm and tasty Odia favourite crab and prawn stew is served.
Other than cheesecake, name a meal that has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. We have one, and it's Lord Puri Jagannath's favourite prasad, Chenna Poda. It is one of the beloved culinary delights relished by the people of Odisha, especially during the vibrant celebrations of Diwali and Durga puja. The twist of flavours offered by this sweet delicacy is the combined magic of carefully picked ingredients such as paneer, semolina, sugar, almond and cashew nuts. After the ingredients are thoroughly blended, they are topped with a dash of cardamom powder and baked until the perfect golden brown hue is attained. Once done, the sweet is ready to be devoured throughout the day.
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