Food Talk – Odisha, India

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Odisha is a state that is traditionally famous for its mouth-watering delicacies with a culinary tradition that goes back centuries. The coastal state boasts of a huge menu that spans over different varieties of rice, lentils, desserts and sea food. Rice, both sun dried and par-boiled is the staple food of the people in this state.

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The Jagannath Temple in Puri is internationally famous for running the largest kitchen in the world. The Prasadam is cooked on chulas and served to over 10,000 worshippers daily. Odia cooks, particularly from the Puri region, were much sought after due to their ability to cook food in accordance with Hindu scriptures.

The ingredients used in Odia cuisine typical to the region are plantains, jackfruit, and papaya. The curries are also garnished with dried raw mango (ambula) and tamarind. Coconut is also used in several dishes.

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Panch Phutana is a blend of five spices which is widely used in Odia cuisine. It contains mustard, cumin, fenugreek, aniseed and kalonji. Garlic and onion are also used, but these are avoided in temple environs. Turmeric and red chillies are also commonly used.


Famous rice dishes of Odisha

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Pakhala - It is a rice dish made by adding water to cooked rice. It is served with green chillies, onions and yoghurt. It is primarily eaten in summer. Both the fermented (called Basi Pakhala) and the unfermented version (called Saja Pakhala) are served.

Kechadi - Kechadi is a well-known dish which is offered as Prasadam to the Lord Jagannath in the Jagannath temple. It is made by cooking rice and lentils together in ghee that gives it a rich flavour.

Palau - A rice dish made from vegetables and raisins. It is the Odia version of pilaf.

Kanika - A sweet rice dish, garnished with raisins and nuts.


Dal and Curries from the state

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Santula - A dish finely chopped vegetables which are sautéed with garlic, green chillies, mustard and various spices.

Kadali Manja Rai - A curry made from banana plant stem and mustard seeds. Manja refers to the stem which can also be used in Dalma.

Chaatu Rai – A dish made from mushrooms and mustard.

Besara – Assorted vegetables in a mustard paste tempered with Panch Phutana.


The famous Khattas and Chutneys

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Dahi Baigana - A sour dish made from yoghurt and egg plants.

Khajuri Khata – A sweet and sour dish made from tomato and dates.

Amba Khatta – A sour dish made from raw mangoes.

Ouu Khatta – A sour dish made of Elephant apple.

Dhania-Patra Chutney – A chutney made from coriander leaves.


Coastal Odisha and its sea food cuisine

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Machha Besara - A fish curry prepared with mustard paste.

Machha Mahura - A curry prepared with fish and various vegetables.

Chingudi Malai Tarkari - A prawn curry made with coconut milk.

Kankada Jhola - Crab curry made with a blend of mild spices.

Machha Chhencheda – Marinated fish curry with vegetables.

Chingudi Chadchadi – Shrimp cooked with tamarind to give it a sour taste.


Chicken and Mutton Delicacies

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Mansa Tarkari: Marinated mutton and Potato curry.

Kukuda Kassa – A spicy chicken recipe which has a semi-gravy texture and looks extremely tempting.

Mansa Kassa – A kassa made with mutton.


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Odisha is also famous for its Pithas (a type of cake common in Odisha, usually made of rice, with a filling of jiggery, coconut among other things) and Aloo Piaji (Potato fritters), Bhindi Baingan Bhaja (Brinjal and Okra Fritters).

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Odia cuisine is a power house of sweets as well. Chhena Poda (A sweet made from soft cheese dipped in sugar syrup and baked. It may also contain dry fruits), Chhena Gaja (cottage cheese fried in oil and coated with sugar syrup) and Malpua (sugar coated pancake) are some of the prominent sweets of the region. Other famous sweets include Rasagolla, Chhena Jilebi, Rasabali, Rasmalai and Aadasi.