Top 5 food to try when in Odisha

Updated: Sep 11, 2021


Pakhala Bhata

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Say hello to the soul-soothing, lip-smacking, and summer refreshing Odia cuisine. Popularly known as the signature food of Odisha, from being served in Lord Jagannath’s temple to every home’s kitchen, it is loved by everyone.


Even though being so highly popular in Odisha, its preparation is quite simple. Rice soaked overnight in water and let it ferment and then garnish with curd, cucumber, cumin seeds, fried onions, mango ginger paste, and mint leaves. Even leftover rice can be used for preparation. Hence, it simultaneously prevents wastage of food. Various side dishes include fried fish and prawns, burnt potato (Aloo poda), fried pumpkin flowers (Kakharu phula bara), sun-dried lentil dumpling crumble (Badi chura), fried leafy vegetables (Saga bhaja), and sun-dried fish fry (Sukhua) add more taste to the main dish. Various types of Pakhala include Saja Pakhala, Basi Pakhala, Dahi Pakhala and Jeera Pakhala.


Since it is prepared by fermentation, it breaks down nutrients, making them easier to digest, and adds gut-friendly bacteria to the meal. The fermented water is known as Torani and is advised to provide hydration for sunstroke patients. Tanka Torani is a famous drink made from the fermented water of Pakhala. It is prepared by mixing mashed rice, curd, water, and spices like mango ginger, curry leaves, roasted cumin powder, basil leaves, and lemon and stored in an earthen pot to remain cool.


Its history dates back to 10 CE, when it was included in the recipe of Lord Jagannath’s Mahaprasada. To encourage the traditional cuisine in the Modern Era, Pakhala Dibasa was declared on 20th March 2015 by the popular initiative to be celebrated by Odias worldwide. It is now celebrated every year on 20th March to celebrate the benefits of the cuisine. So, this summer beat the heat with the signature cuisine of Odisha.



Chhena Poda

Chhenapoda Sweet
Image Source: PC: Shaheen Ali (archanaskitchen.com)

Bored of your cliché Raspberry cheesecake? Try the delicious traditional cheesecake of Odisha. It is a baked cottage cheese dessert. It is the favorite sweet of Lord Jagannath. It is usually prepared at homes during Durga Puja. Since the mid-1980s available over almost every restaurant and food stalls all over Odisha. Although available all over Odisha, places famous for Chhena Poda are Nayagarh (its origin), Old town Bhubaneswar, Puri, Salipur, Pahala chhaka, and Hansapala in Cuttack district. Not only famous among Odias but it is loved by people all over India even our favorite Ayushmann Khurrana found his love in Chhena Poda.


Its story dates back to in early 12th CE, in Dasapalla village of Nayagarh District, Odisha. Bidyadhara Sahu, owner of the sweet shop decided to add sugar and seasonings to leftover cottage cheese one night and left it in the Indian Chulha that was still warm from earlier use. The next day, he was pleasantly surprised to find the delicious dessert he invented.


Prepared traditionally by wrapping in the leaves of the sal tree, and cooked in a coal oven, kneading chhena (cottage cheese) and semolina together with sugar, and flavoring with cardamom powder, raisins, and slightly roasted cashews and results in smoky flavored moist sweet delicacy.


Rasagola

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Rasagola is ball-shaped dumplings of chhena (an Indian cottage cheese) and semolina dough, cooked in light syrup made of sugar. This is done until dumplings absorb the syrup.


In Odisha, there are variations of Rasagola and the popular are Salepur Rasagola and Pahala Rasagola. Salepur in Cuttack district and Pahala in between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack alongside the National Highway 5. It is quite famous among South Asian Nations, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.


It is offered as bhog to Goddess Laxmi on Niladri Bije. Its origin is based on an interesting story when Goddess Laxmi gets upset over Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra without her permission, so she locks one of the gates of the temple and prevents him from entering the temple. To appease her, Lord Jagannath offers her rasagolas. This ritual is part of the "Niladri Bije", known as Bachanika.


After years of controversies, Odisha finally got the GI tag (geographical indication tag) for this famous dessert on 29th July 2019. Originated in Puri, as Khira Mohana, later evolved into the Pahala rasagola.


ISRO is developing dehydrated rasagolas for Indian astronauts in its missions. On 30 July 2015, on the day of "Niladri Bije", a social media campaign was started to celebrate the Rasagola Dibasa every year on the tithi of Niladri Bije in the lunar calendar.



Dahibara Aloodum

A rather different variant of Dahi vada, originated in Cuttack, a district of Odisha, and is a famous street food of Odisha. Also known as 'The soul food of Cuttack'.


It is also a favorite breakfast dish loved by all Odias across the state. It is prepared by soaking Baras (fried flour balls) in light Dahi (yogurt) water. Then adding Aloo Dum (potato curry) and Ghuguni (pea curry) to it. It was invented and sold by vendors at Bidanasi (old Cuttack), near Barabati Fort.


This dish from Cuttack has won an award at the 11th National street food Festival held at New Delhi in the year 2020.


1st March of the year is celebrated as Dahibara Aludam Dibasa in Odisha.



Rasabali

Rasabali
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Served as one of the Chapana bhog of Jagannath temple. It is originated in the Baladevjew Temple of Kendrapara offered to Lord Baldevjew.


Another dessert is prepared from cottage cheese (Chhena). It is soft cottage cheese fritters fried in ghee and soaked in cardamom sweet thick milk (rabdi). This dessert is so soft and juicy that it melts into the mouth within a minute.


Best traditionally prepared Rasabali is available in Baisnabipanda Shop, Kendrapada district of Odisha.





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