Located on the eastern coast of India, Odisha is one of the most exotic and charismatic places in the country. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, sweet lake (Chilika) which becomes the hub of the migratory birds and untouched cultural traditions.
The state also remains in the news for having to battle natural calamities very often, but the mouthwatering cuisine of the place is equally mind-blowing. The food in Odisha is not spiced floating in oil.
What’s so special about the cuisine? The specialty of the cuisine is its simplicity. Not only it is extremely simple to prepare the dishes, but it is pure in taste, and simple local ingredients are used, and the best part is, it is simple to digest and hence is healthy.
History of Odisha food
Odia people are very simple, down to earth people. They’re extremely religious but at the same time very accepting. No wonder their food is an accurate representation of their traditions and cultures.
Having spoken about the religious factor, Odia food is greatly influenced by the Mahaprasad (temple food offered to the deities) of the Jagannath temple in puri; hence, it is widely veg.
The Hindu scriptures have always advocated finding and worshiping the “God” within oneself and respect to all living creatures, that’s why one may find several animals and trees associated with deities in some or the other way and people in India worshiping them.
The Hindu scriptures emphasize on food without meat, onion, ginger or garlic because they’re easy to digest and as it is important to stay healthy to do anything important, the Hindu scriptures have taken good care of that by guiding people to eat and stay healthy.
Odia cooks, in the Puri area, were much sought after because of their capacity to cook in accordance with the Hindu scriptures. Throughout the 19th century, many Odia cooks were used in Bengal, and they required several Odia dishes together.
This time also saw hefty demand for Brahmin cooks, causing several Odia cooks to pretend their caste. Odisha could be called as one of the founding members of the ultimate Indian “Satwik Bhojan” (satwik: meaning “pure”; Bhojan: meaning “food”).
In a world where chaos is a growing constant in the outside world and within, eating healthy Satwik food is a growing favourite in the worldwide scenario and for all good reasons because the negativity people project upon others only comes from the insecurities from inside of them and the first step avoid such situations would be to start from monitoring what we take in as “food”.
So the Odia cuisine uses minimal oil and mostly “ghee” (saturated fat), which again is very good for health as it contains good cholesterol and is made in the kitchens with cow’s milk.
Panch phutana a blend of five spices, namely mustard, cumin, fenugreek, aniseed, and kalonji is widely used in Odia cuisine. Most dishes use ginger garlic paste-like the rest of India but the temple Prasad doesn’t allow the usage of these ingredients.
Curries include a touch of dried mango powder or used as it is (called “ambula”) to which makes the dish a little sour. Rice is the staple and is available in a variety of dishes.
A very good amount of fruits are also eaten with the main dishes. The Jagannath Temple at the area around Puri-Cuttack significantly influences the meals and therefore is sweet.
On the flip side, skillet and kalonji are used from the area Bengal, and therefore they are generally sweeter. From to Andhra Pradesh, curry tamarind and shrub leaves are utilized. The coastal region oozes with a variety of seafood.
A hot favorite among the locals during the summer. Prepared by mixing fermented rice with cure sautéed in the “five spices.” It is a favorite across the state.
20th March is celebrated as Pakhala Dibasa (Universal Pakhala Day) by all Odias to welcome the summer season with Odisha’s traditional food. This sumptuous meal is a must-try.
A traditionally prepared dish of Odisha made from sweet pulao uncovers a place of pride at the record of 56 items in Lord Jagannath’s’Chappan Bhog.’ Kanika was the favorite Odiya dish biriyani, and fried rice took its location. The aromatic basmati rice could be a replacement in the uncooked rice that is usually ready to create Kanika. Largely offering in temples.
A dish made from dal and chopped vegetables like green papaya, unripe banana, eggplant, pumpkin, gourd, etc. and panch phutana. One of the dishes offers as a part of the Mahaprasad. It is a favorite across the state.
Mustard paste is the king in these dishes. This is generally served with Pakhala and easily becomes a hot favorite across the state during the summers.
A mixture of vegetables prepared with minimal oil and is very easy to make. It is a widely popular dish.
A curry prepared with potatoes and parval. It is very popular in the middle Odisha.
Curry made with different vegetables. One of the dishes offered as a part of the Mahaprasad. A popular dish across the state.
This dish consists of the leaves of a plant which is prepared by adding “pancha phutana” with or without onion/garlic and are best enjoyed with pakhala. It is a favorite across the state.
A mixture of vegetables in mustard paste tempered with mustard paste. One of the dishes offered as a part of the Mahaprasad. A popular dish across the state.
Eggplant prepared with curd. Sour in taste and is a very popular dish particularly in the southern part of the state.
puffed rice served with lamb meat cooked in earthen vessels. A popular dish of the Baripada region.
A mixture of the mainstream Dahi-vada with potato curry and ghuguni (a local peas curry). The very popular dish, particularly in the Cuttack region.
Very famous and a hot-favorite pan-India, known as golgappa in the north, puchka in west Bengal, bhel puri/ pani-puri in the west India. The unique factor about the gupchup of Odisha is that it is served with Tamarind water, unlike the Pudina water everywhere else.
Sweetcakes made with flour and coconut filling. Usually made on auspicious occasions. It is a favorite across the state. One of the dishes offers as a part of the Mahaprasad.
Balls of sweet cottage cheese. This dish was invented by an Odia cook who was employed in Bengal, and since then it came to be served as a part of the mahaprasad and became a worldwide favorite.
Another sweet dish made with cottage cheese. A popular dish across the state, particularly the nayagarh region.
puffed rice rolled into balls with caramel. Served as a snack across the state.
With saturated in milk and cardamoms. Served in Lord Jagannath Temple for a part this delicacy, of chappana bhogas traces its source from Kendrapara district in Odisha.
Chhatu Besara or chhatu Rai is a nutritious vegetable dish that’s very popular in Odisha. The components which enhance its flavor are tomato and powder with a lot of mushrooms cooked in a skillet. The dish has been appreciated in Odia but in areas around India.
All these rice vadas (Odia — Chaula Bara) are Extremely famous street food of Odisha. These crispy vadas are savored with onions and fried chillis.
Vadas can fluctuate in size and flavor based on the various spices added. All these small crispy vadas go very well with”ghuguni” (white peas curry). If you want it crispy, fry it for some more time.
To sum up, Odia cuisine can be called a simple, wholesome diet plan for the people who are mostly farmers or fishermen and live in the scorching heat.
It is easy to make which helps them save time, good for health which helps them be more productive and has elements of the scriptures which keep them rooted in their traditions and keep reminding them of their ethics and morale. Nevertheless, the food simplistic food also is immensely flavourful and is a treat for your taste buds.