The state of Odisha is so diverse and vibrant that each of its district exhibits a unique tradition, culture and even a distinctive food speciality. Such is their appetizing taste, that these delicacies should have rightly found a place in India’s desirable food map. But perhaps, it has remained concealed since years & decades, limiting the scrumptious flavor of the food items to just within their hometowns or Odisha alike.The food found in the region around Puri-Cuttack is greatly influenced by the Jagannath Temple. On the other hand, kalonji and mustard paste are used mostly in the region bordering Bengal and curries tend to be sweeter. In the region closer to Andhra Pradesh, curry tree leaves and tamarind are used more. The Brahmapur region has influences of South Indian cuisine and the Telugu people living there have invented new Odia dishes.Variety seems to be the best part in Odia cuisine but there comes the custom of “unity in diversity” as the food was traditionally served on banana leaves or disposable plates made of sal leaves and people follow this custom to enhance their remarkable delicacy. Yoghurt is used in dishes. Many sweets of the region are based on chhena (cheese)
The ingredients used in Odia cuisine are plantains, jackfruit, and papaya. The curries are garnished with dried raw mango (ambula) .Panch phutana is a blend of five spices that is widely used in Odia cuisine.Garlic, onion and ginger are used in most of the food. Temple food preparation doesn’t allow the use of garlic or onion. Turmeric and red chillies are used regularly.
Hence for all the gourmet lovers, we have listed below the special dishes of some of Odisha’s famous districts.
1) Dahibara Aloodum, Cuttack
This legendary street food needs no introduction but for those who haven’t had it yet, it’s a must try. Dahibara when combined with a little hot & spicy aloodum and ghuguni gives such a heavenly taste that the inhabitants of Cuttack simply drool and preach about it. Moreover, when garnished with finely chopped onions and coriander leaves, it renders an unforgettable savour.
2) Bara, Dhenkanal
Typically served as a traditional tiffin in various parts of Odisha, the Bara of Dhenkanal is said to be the most tastiest and relishing. Crispy from outside and tenderly soft from within, Bara is prepared from black-gram dal or urad dal along with rice. This cuisine lures many for its luscious taste and aroma.
3) Badi, Keonjhar
Unique in itself for its crispiness & taste, these badis are made up of black-gram being grinded on a slit-stone and given the shape of a flower, making it a rather eye-catching dish. Phula Badi’s are delicate & fragile in nature because of their light weight. Whether eaten in a roasted or fried manner, it tastes delectable when consumed with rice or even solely.
4) Rasabali, Kendrapara
Offered to Baladevjew and believed to have originated from the Baladevjew Temple of Kendrapara, Rasabali happens to be the most famous sweet dish found in this province of Odisha. Soaked in thick flavoured milk and garnished with cardamoms on top, this authentic reddish-brown toothsome dish is even served as one of the chappana bhogas at Lord Jagannath temple.
5) Chenna Poda, Nayagarh
This is the quintessential cheese dessert of Odisha. The enduring taste of burnt cottage cheese equaling with the sweet sugar syrup that’s added to it, makes the taste of Chhena Poda kind of hard to forget. Though available at many places, but Nayagarh happens to be the birthplace of this sweet dessert. And to add onto the flavour, dry fruits like cashew nut and raisins are mixed during its preparation.
6) Mudhi-Mansa, Baripada
Baripada, a small town of Mayurbhanj district, gained enormous popularity for its mudhi (puffed rice) and mansa (mutton) combination. You have to try it to believe it, that Mudhi tastes utterly delectable with its mutton gravy counterpart. Not only do the denizens have it with this gravy, instead they prefer having it with anything and everything starting from tea to a list of endless things.
7) Chhena Jhili, Nimapada
Chhena Jhili’s birthplace happens to be Nimapada which is a town notified under the Puri district of Odisha and is preferably known for this popular dessert. Although one can get it all over the state, but the craving for Nimapada’s Chhena Jhili is just and righteous. This delectable sweet is prepared by frying fresh cheese balls and caramelising it with sugar syrup, making it a sweet dish not to be missed while visiting Odisha.
8) Rassogolla, Salepur (Cuttack)
A syrupy dessert made from ball shaped dumplings looks alike of the Indian cottage cheese balls dipped in semolina and caramelized with sweet sugary syrup. Rassogolla is what makes Salepur pretty famous and unlike other counterfeits which are spongy and whitish in color, this desi version is brownish which melts in the mouth as soon as one has it. Bikalananda Kar’s Rassogolla are the famous ones in town serving this sweet delicacy over the years.
9) Kora Khai, Bhubaneswar (Khurda)
Believed to be a traditional Odia food, Kora Khai has a special mention when it comes to offering in temples. Served as prasad at the famous Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar, this eatable is extremely famous for its taste. Prepared from spices like cinnamon and cardamom along with puffed rice, and caramelized with jaggery or sugar, coconut pieces and cashew on top, Kora Khai is a perfect blend of taste. Baya Baba Kora Khai in Old Town area of Bhubaneswar is one of the noted outlets selling Kora Khai.
10) Gajja, Balasore
Though there exist many authentic and traditional dishes in Balasore, Gajja serves to be one of the famous cuisines of Odisha. Blended with a mix of sugar and semolina, which afterwards is dried and then fried before being wrapped up in sugar syrup, Gajja is another type of Rassogolla that will elevate your sweet buds.
11) Palua Ladu, Bhadrak
One of the sweetest desserts originated from the state of Odisha’s Bhadrak district, Palua Ladu is a special kind of ladu that one can ever taste. Available at some of the best locations in Bhadrak including the ones at Sai Sweet Stall, the recipe of its making is still guarded secretly since decades.
So kiitians it time to explore Odisha more and the exotic flavours of Odisha. The next time you find yourself at any of the above mentioned districts, don’t forget to try out the delicacies they are famous for.