Odisha has a culinary tradition spanning over centuries. Majority of people from Odisha are non-vegetarians and fish forms an integral part of their traditional cuisine. Oriya dishes are rich and varied and rely on local ingredients. Oriya food is spicy and cooked in little or no oil. Odisha 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.
History of Odisha Cuisine
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 Odisha and were later introduced and included in the food list of West Bengal.
Dishes of Odisha Cuisine
Odisha cuisine encompasses rice, vegetables, ‘Chadchadi’, ‘Ghanta’, ‘Badichoora’, ‘Khichdi’, ‘Besara’, ‘Jeera Pakhal’ and ‘Alu Palak Saag’ are some of the vegetarian dishes. A typical Odisha cuisine incorporates the intake of ‘Saaga’, ‘Bhaji’, ‘Bhaat’, ‘Dal’, ‘Besara’ or ‘Mahura’ (spiced curry), fish and chutney or ‘Khatta’. People of Odisha 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. ‘Pakhal’ (rice fermented in water with yoghurt and seasonings), ‘Mitha Bhaat’ (sweetened rice, mixed with various spices) and ‘Pulao’ (salty 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. Among people of Odisha, 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’, ‘Ghugni’ and ‘Soriso Macha’ are notable.
Desserts of Odisha Cuisine
Oriya desserts are made from a variety of ingredients, with milk, Chhena (a form of cottage cheese), coconut, rice and wheat flour being the most common. People of Odisha are sweet tooth and sweet dishes form an indispensable part of their meal. Odisha cuisine offers a variety of desserts like ‘Rasabali’, ‘Chhena Gaja’, ‘Chhena Poda’ and ‘Chhena Kheeri’ are is made with cubes of ricotta cheese. Jalebi made with kneaded ricotta cheese which is called ‘Chhena Jalebi’. ‘Kalakand’; a sweet made from condensed milk, ‘Khaja’; shaped dough fried and drizzled with sugar syrup and ‘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. Other traditional sweets are ‘Chhena Poda Pitha’, ‘Enduri Pitha’ and ‘Chittau Pitha’. These are often prepare during festivities and are made in huge quantity during all the major festivals.