The rice-based traditional foods of Odisha include Pakhala Bhata and Pilaf. The rice is sautéed in oil until the colour changes to golden-brown to prepare the pilaf and mixed with various spices, vegetables, dry fruits.
Written by Pradipta Banerjee, Assistant Professor, MSSSoA
The cuisine of Odisha has got a flavor of both North and South India, though it is unique in its way. Rice is considered the staple food in the state of Odisha. Yoghurt and chhena (cheese) are common in meals. The rice-based traditional foods of Odisha include Pakhala Bhata and Pilaf. The rice is sautéed in oil until the colour changes to golden-brown to prepare the pilaf and mixed with various spices, vegetables, dry fruits. Sometimes small pieces of meat are added to the rice to make it tastier. Pakhala Bhata is usually made from soaking cooked rice in sour curd and water, and served with fried fish, potatoes, badi choora, and papad on the side. This is a common form of lunch in Odisha. Dalma is another traditional food of Odisha where lentil is mixed with vegetables and spices and served with a variety of dishes like Pitha (a form of pancake), Vada. Dalma is highly proteinaceous and a regular dish in Odia meals. Santula (blend of boiled or fried vegetables like papaya, potato, brinjal, tomato, etc.), Kadali Manja Rai (banana stem curry with cumin, cinnamon, coriander, red chillies), Besara (potato, banana, papaya, pumpkin) and Chaatu Rai or Chaatu Besara (mushroom, tomato, turmeric powder, etc.) are well-known vegetarian dishes while Malai Chungdi (prawn) and Macha Ghanta (fish curry) are famous non-veg dishes that one should try in Odisha. Gupchup, Dahi vada Aloo-dum, Mudi mansa (puffed rice and meat) are delicacies people of Odisha would love to have in snacks. Talking about traditional foods without mentioning the sweet dishes will be a sin, especially if we are talking about Odisha. A long list of mouth-watering sweets are found in Odisha. Chhena Jhili, Khaja, Gaja, Palua Ladu, Odisha Rasogolla, Chaula Bara, Chakuli Pitha, Pora Pitha, Enduri Pitha, Kakara Pith, Chhena Poda, Rasabali – are famous traditional sweets found only in Odisha. If someone wants to try all the traditional foods (vegetarian) and sweet dishes in one go, the best place is to visit Jagannatha temple of Puri, where every day at least 56 items are offered to Lord Jagannatha and distributed among the devotees as Mahaprasad.