(Last Updated on : 05/02/2009)
Orissa cuisine is an amalgamation of affluent usage of spices and local ingredients. Orissa besides having rich architectural and cultural heritage also possesses a rich culinary background. History says, during the Bengal Renaissance, in the 17th and 18th Century, the Oriya cooks used to be employed in the kitchen of the Zamindars of West Bengal. So that some dishes which are now popular as Bengali dishes are basically from the kitchen of Orissa and were later introduced and included in the food list of West Bengal. The kitchen of famous Jagannath temple
in Puri is considered to be the largest in the world, engaging a thousand chefs working around seven hundred fifty two chulas (wood burning clay hearths) to feed more than ten thousand people.
Orissa cuisine encompasses rice, vegetables , Chadchadi, Ghanta, Badichoora, Khichdi, besara, Jeera Pakhala, Aalu Palak Saag are some of the vegetarian dishes and non vegetarian dishes includes Macchojhola, Chicken masala, Chilli Chicken , Mutton curry. Orissa is a place where sea foods like prawns, lobsters, fish and crab are found in abundance. Not only the locales, but the tourists also relish the preparation of sea food like Prawn malai, Machha curry, and Crab kalia and Chilli fish.
Orissa Cuisine consist the usage of rich and variety of spices, coconut milk and yoghurt. Oriya food is spicy and cooked in little or no oil. The magic combination of yoghurt and coconut milk enhances the richness of color and creaminess and make the foods look and taste delicious. Another masala , "Pancha-phutana", a mixture of cumin, fennel, mustard, kalonji, black cumin and fenugreek, is used for seasoning vegetables and dals and Garam masala is used for non vegetarian dishes.
A typical Orissa cuisine incorporates the intake of Saaga, Bhaji, Bhaat, Dal, Besara or Mahura (spiced curry), Fish and Chutney or Khatta. People of Orissa relish Channa Dali which is cooked with coconuts, raisins, dry fruits and spices. Dalma(mixed lentils with various vegetables) is considered as an energy booster and popular due to its ample nutritional value. Pakhala (rice fermented in water with yoghurt and seasonings), Lemon Rice , Mitha Bhaat( sweetened rice, mixed with various spices) and Polao(saulty rice with butter, raisins, nuts, vegetables and spices) are some of the well coveted rice preparations. Khichari
, prepared with rice and lentils with vegetables, flavoured with dry red chillies, bay leaves and jeera, especially served at religious festivals. Khichari cooked with meat is known as Khichda. Among people of Orissa , another famous food is Besara which is cooked with assorted vegetables and stirred and fried in Panch Phutana, spices and oil. Among other delicious dishes Chhencheda, Chingri Malai, Crab Kalia, Dahi Baingan, Dahi Machha , Ghughni, Soriso Macha are notable.
Orissa cuisine involves extensive usage of coconut even in desserts. People of Orissa include dessert in their regular meal. Some of the desserts which are famous in Bengal and all over India, are the invention of Orissa. History says that the well admired Kheeri or Kheer (rice pudding), preferred all over India was originated in Orissa before two thousand years. Orissa cuisine offers a variety of desserts like Rasabali, Chhana Gaja, Chhanna Poda; Chhana Kheeri which is made with cubes of ricotta cheese, Jalebi made with kneaded ricotta cheese which is called Chhana Jalebi, Kalakand ( a sweet made from condensed milk), Khaja(shaped dough fried and drizzled with sugar syrup).The taste of Kheersagar ,a dessert made with cheese dumplings in condensed milk ,is also praised among the inhabitants. The Meetha Dahi(sweet yoghurt) and Malpua(sweetened deep fried batter of a mixture of bananas and flour) are preferred as tasty local desserts. The natives of Orissa prepare cake from rice powder and gram dal. Cakes can be of different types like Peda,Chitau, Manda, Arisa, Kakara and Podapitha.