TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 1 Food of Odisha - Top 15 Dishes
When you talk of Odisha, you tend to think about the Konark temple, Lord Jagannath temple, the beautiful marine drive in Puri, and the stunning Chilika lake. But do you ever think about the food of Odisha?
Odia cuisine isn’t quite as popular as the one from its neighbor, West Bengal. However, with a little bit of marketing the dishes of Odisha can catapult themselves to global adoption. Tourism in Odisha has been on a steady increase thanks to destinations like Puri, Bhubaneshwar, Chilika, and some off-beat ones like Chandipur and Lulung.
But food tourism is yet to be promoted on a large-scale level and the dishes of Odisha still need to be highlighted. The food of Odisha is similar yet different from the one you will savor in West Bengal. A traditional Odia dish isn’t as elaborate as the ones Bengalis make but it is tasty nonetheless.
Food of Odisha - Top 15 Dishes
Therefore, we bring to you a collection of the top 15 dishes of Odisha that you will love trying out at home.
1. Odia Ghuguni
The one dish I just love having any time. The Odia Ghuguni doubles up as a snack as well as the main course dish. It’s one food of Odisha that is regularly cooked in my kitchen! Odia’s love their ghuguni and it is served with vadas, in a chaat, with roti, rice, upma; basically, it goes with everything!
Ghuguni is made from commonly available dried yellow peas that are consumed primarily in the East India states of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Assam. The mildly flavored curry is an excellent combination of herbs, spices, potatoes, and yellow peas. It is a very important member of Odia cuisine and an excellent source of nourishment as well. Try the above recipe and see how it comes out.
2. Dahi Vada Aloo Dum
Now that sounds like an odd combination but it go through an evening stroll in Bhubaneshwar, you will see many street vendors selling this. This is a traditional Odia dish and one that most people don’t know about.
If you have an interest in trying Odia traditional food, then this one is a must-have. Popularly enjoyed as a street food item, Dahi Vada Aloo Dum is the unseal combination of the flavor-rich aloo dum mixed with a light palette Dahi vada. In the evenings, vendors pull up on a street corner in their cycles, carrying huge containers full of these yummy delicacies. It is one aspect of Odia cuisine that I enjoyed a lot during my short stay in Bhubaneshwar.
Some of you might have heard about Dalma but as the name of some restaurant. Very few people know that Dalma is actually a traditional Odia dish. Number 3 on our list of the dishes of Odisha, Dalma is a highly simple and delicious preparation.
Dalma is made with chickpeas, vegetables, raw papaya, and toor dal. It is topped off with the aromatic panch phoron masala, seasoned with ghee and served with rice. It is probably one of the most popular dishes of Odisha which is consumed by people all across India.
The aromatic, wholesome dish is packed with proteins and vitamins and makes for a lovely one-pot meal. Serve it with boiled white rice or some pulao to add more flavors to the meal. Above is a recipe we recommend.
4. Saga Bhaja
Saga Bhaja is a vegetarian dish that is usually either made from amaranthus leaves or radish leaves along with potatoes. Odia cuisine is full of delicious veggie dishes and this one ranks among the top!
Nothing could be simpler than preparing Saga Bhaja. All you need is the vegetable leaves and potatoes that need to be chopped first. Along with the vegetables, you will need to add onions, garlic, red chilies, radish (if you want), and the usual masalas. It hardly takes time to cook and is a very nourishing meal. This traditional Odia dish is very similar to other leafy vegetable preparations cooked all over India.
5. Pakhala Bhata
This is one food of Odisha that I never got to trying and that’s been a big regret. Counted amongst one of the most popular dishes of Odisha, Pakhala Bhata is basically a fermented rice preparation.
The rice is washed and slightly fermented in water known as Torani. Interestingly, it is known as Panta Bhat in Bengal, Bore Bhat in Chhatisgarh, Poita Bhat in Assam, and Pazhaiya Sadam in Tamil Nadu!
It isn’t a glamorous dish in the Odia cuisine but one that is consumed in most households across Odisha. Pakhala Bhata is usually prepared with rice, curd, cucumber, cumin seeds, fried onions, and mint leaves. Pair it with potatoes, brinjal vegetable preparations, or Saga Bhaja, and fried fish!
Ambila is another tasty yet under-rated food of Odisha. This traditional Odia dish is a savory combination of vegetables, yogurt, and besan. This sweet and spicy vegetable gravy is best paired with white rice and takes very little time to prepared.
Some of its main ingredients include radish, Colocasia, Eggplant, pumpkin, gram flour, turmeric, red chili, curry leaves, and tamarind paste. It is interesting to note that the Ambila is very similar in taste and preparation to Rasam that is consumed down South.
It is one of those dishes of Odisha that is usually made during Laxmi puja and special occasions. If you want to taste the sweet and spicy goodness of Ambila then check the above recipe out.
7. Maccha Ghanta
Here is a typical non-vegetarian, traditional Odia dish. The best time and place to eat the Maccha Ghanta is during Durga puja and Dussehra when this delicacy is served in puja pandals across the state! Even though it is not the main dish of Ashtami celebrations, it is one of the must-have fish preparations.
It is said that the Maccha Ghanta is very similar to the Bengali dish, Muri Ghonto. You will need to develop a taste for this preparation as the main ingredient is fish heads! However, it is also made with other fish pieces.
Maccha ghanta is a wholesome meal in itself as the fish is cooked with vegetables like raw banana, pumpkin, potatoes, yam, and other veggies that you want to add. Above is a recipe to see what the dish looks like.
8. Chingudi Jhola
Chingudi Jhola or Prawn curry is a coastal preparation that is available in places like Puri, Chandipur, etc. The spicy gravy has different versions of it – coastal versions are a little different from the ones that are made in riverside regions of Odisha.
To make the dish, prawns are first fried in mustard oil till they turn golden brown. Once this is done, a mixture of local spices and herbs (garam masala) is then added along with bay leaves. Some traditional versions also include coconut cashew paste to make the gravy thicker. However, if you want a light, thin curry you can leave this out.
Adding flavor to the gravy is a generous quantity of tomatoes and garlic which gives it a reddish-brown hue. See this recipe for the complete cooking instructions.
9. Kakharu Phula Bhaja
This is not exactly a main course dish but a snack. Kakharu Phula Bhaja translates to crunchy pumpkin flower fritters and you will find them in some street food stalls all around Odisha.
If you are looking to experience the local food of Odisha, then this is something you will surely enjoy. These fritters or pakodas are easy to make and come with a simple recipe. Did you know that only male flowers from the pumpkin are used to make Kakharu Phula Bhaja? Even though this ingredient might not be a conventional one but you should be able to get it anywhere in India.
10. Mandia Pej
Coming from the tribal belt of Odisha, the Mandia Pej is a soup made of ragi and rice. Not many people know that ragi is consumed outside of the south Indian states! This rustic recipe might not be counted as one of the popular dishes of Odisha but is an authentic food of Odisha.
Sweltering summer temperatures can be countered by Mandia Pej and the locals use it extensively during the hot weather. Villagers don’t have access to cool drinks and the Mandia Pej is an excellent alternative.
The preparation is simple. You take powdered ragi and mix it with stale water of boiled rice that is stored in covered containers for a few days. Once the drink is sour it is ready for consumption. Here is how you can make it at home.
11. Machha Besara
Translated in English, Machha Besara means fish cooked in mustard gravy. This non-vegetarian is a variation of the Bengali fish curry made in mustard gravy but with some more spices. The taste is tangy and that is due to the addition of ‘Ambula’, dry mango that is added to the fish.
Ambula is a raw mango that is cut in half, marinated in salt, and then sun-dried. In some versions, tomatoes are used instead of Ambula. This spicy, tangy, and creamy fish curry goes great with boiled white rice and is a very healthy dish to have. Here is a Youtube recipe for you.
12. Poda Pitha
Pithas are traditional sweets from the Eastern India states of Odisha, West Bengal, and Assam. But each state has its own version and the Poda Pitha is quite popular in Odisha. It is a commonly consumed sweet and one of the most popular dishes of Odisha.
This sweet food of Odisha is prepared by slowly baking fermented rice, black dal, grated coconut, and jaggery in an overnight process. From the outside, the course crust looks a bit burnt but it is white and soft on the inside. If you have ever attended the Rath Yatra then you will know that the Poda Pitha is present in these festivities.
13. Chhena Poda
Here is another dessert for all you sweet lovers! Chhena Poda is a cheese dessert and traditional food of Odisha. Chhena Poda translates to baked cheese in Odia and is prepared from Chhena or Cheese curds, and sugar and baked for many hours till they turn brown.
It is said that Chhena Poda originated during the 12th century in the town of Nayagarh. The sweet is usually made at home during traditional festivals in Odisha, such as Durga Puja. It is also served in small traditional roadside stalls and confectioneries throughout the state along with other delicacies such as rasagolla.
14. Manda Pitha
A steamed, healthy preparation, the Manda pitha is cooked during the monsoons and festivals like Durga Puja, Rakhi Purnima, etc. People from Maharashtra and South India will also know this pitha as Modak and Kozhakkattai respectively.
The Manda pitha is a sweet food of Odisha and is prepared with rice flour, coconut, jaggery, black pepper, and chhena. This delicious sweet is a flavorful dessert and every person with a sweet tooth will love having this after meals. To make these dumpling-type desserts at home, you can follow the above recipe.
Kanika is an aromatic sweet dish that is typically made during festivals and pujas. Interestingly, it is one of the 56 dishes of Odisha cooked as part of the Mahaprasadaw or Chhappan bhog ritual at Jagannath Temple in Puri. This immensely popular temple food is offered to Lord Jagannath as part of his morning meal!
It was once a must-have item in weddings and festivals but has not been replaced by pulaos and biryanis. However, a similar dish, Mishti pulao is served in Bengali weddings and paired off with mutton gravy. Sounds delicious right? Well, I am off to make this right now as it just sounds too tempting. Here’s how you can make it too!
So, that was our list of the Top 15 traditional dishes of Odisha. At the risk of sounding cliched, we all know that Odia cooks churn out some of the most delicious meals in households across the country. Even in ancient times, Odia cooks were much sought after due to their ability to cook according to Hindu scriptures.
But not all of us need these expert chefs to have the food of Odisha. All it needs is a willingness to experiment, to learn, and some easy-to-follow recipes that we provided in this article. Bon Appetit and happy cooking!