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Odia cuisine refers to the cooking of the eastern Indianmarker state of Orissamarker. Foods from this area are rich and varied, while relying heavily on local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and delicately spiced, quite unlike the fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Fish and other seafood such as crab and shrimp are very popular. Chicken and mutton are also consumed. Only 6% of the population of Orissa is vegetarian, and this is reflected in its cuisine. Panch phutana, a mix of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and kalonji (nigella) is widely used for tempering vegetables and dals, while garam masala (curry powder) and haladi (turmeric) are commonly used for non-vegetarian curries. Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yoghurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer, particularly in the rural areas. Odias are very fond of sweets and no Odia repast is considered complete without some dessert at the end.

Odia influence in other cuisines

Rasagollas from Salepur.
Rasagollas have become popular throughout India.
Orissa has a culinary tradition spanning centuries if not millennia. The kitchen of the famous Jagannath templemarker in Puri is reputed to be the largest in the world, with a thousand chefs, working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths called chulas, to feed over 10,000 people each day.

Rasagolla, one of the most popular desserts in India, is in fact an Odia invention. It had been enjoyed in Orissa for centuries before being passed on to neighboring Bengal. The well-known rice pudding, kheeri (kheer) that is relished all over India, also originated in Puri two thousand years ago.

In fact, some well-known recipes, usually credited to Bengal, are of Orissan origin. This is because during the Bengal renaissance, brahmin cooks from Orissa, especially from Puri, were routinely employed in richer Bengali households. They were famed for their culinary skills and commonly referred to as Ude Thakurs (Odia chefs). As a result, many Odia delicacies got incorporated into the Bengali kitchen.

Typical Odia meals

A typical meal in Orissa consists of a main course and dessert. Typically breads are served as the main course for breakfast, whereas rice is eaten with lentils (dals) during lunch and dinner. The main course also includes one or more curries, vegetables and pickles. Given the fondness for sweet foods, the dessert course may include generous portions of more than a single item. Odia desserts are made from a variety of ingredients, with milk, chhenna (a form of cottage cheese), coconut, rice, and wheat flour being the most common.

Food items

Rice, breads & lentils

  • Channa Dali - Channa dal with coconuts, raisins, dry fruits, mild spices
  • Dalma - Mixed lentils with various vegetables, is popular due to the high nutritional value and consumed as a complete food.
  • Khechedi - Rice and lentils with vegetables and occasionally potato. It is a general food at religious festivals.
  • Luchi - Unleavened flour bread deep fried in oil.
  • Mitha Bhata - Mildly sweetened rice with assorted spices
  • Moong Dal - Mung bean dal cooked with coconuts and mild spices
  • Pakhal - Rice fermented in water with yoghurt and seasonings.
  • Paratamarker - Layered wheat bread rolled out in triangular or round shape and tawa-fried
  • Polao - Rice in clarified butter with raisins, nuts, vegetables, whole spices
  • Puri - Unleavened whole wheat flour bread deep fried in oil

The famous Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa: home of the original rasagolla and the kheer.
Its kitchen is reputed to be the largest in the world, with several hundred chefs working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths to feed over 10,000 people each day.

Curries, vegetables, and other main course items

  • Alu Bhaja - Potato slices fried in oil with whole spices
  • Alu Dum - Spicy potato curry
  • Alu Mattar - Diced potatoes and peas curry
  • Alu Phoolkobi Bhaja - Diced potato and cauliflower florets sauteed in oil and spices
  • Alu Potala Rasa - Curried potatoes and gourd
  • Besaramarker - Assorted vegetables stir fried in panch phutana and a mildly spiced sauce
  • Charchari - Sauteed mixed vegetables, diced potatoes and shrimp in a spicy mustard sauce
  • Chhencheda - Lightly spiced fish head and mixed vegetables
  • Chungdi Malai - Freshwater prawn cooked in coconut milk and spices
  • Chungdi Jhola - Freshwater prawn cooked in thick, spicy gravy
  • Crab Kalia - A spicy crab curry
  • Dahi Baingana - Deep fried eggplant slices in a spiced yoghurt sauce
  • Dahi Maachha - fried fish in a mildly spiced yoghurt sauce
  • Ghanto/Ghanta - Vegetable medley and spice powders sauteed in oil
  • Ghugni - Boiled Peas and spices cooked in oil and then lightly curried
  • Kankara Jhola - Crab meat and potatoes in a rich gravy with panch phutana
  • Khatta - Literally meaning "sour" in Odia, a sweet and sour marmalade served as a side
  • Maachha Jhola - Fish curry, in a spicy gravy seasoned with mustard, cumin and turmeric
  • Posto - Poppyseed paste cooked with assorted vegetables and/or potato
  • Soriso Maacha - Pan fried fish in a mustard gravy
  • Saaga - Fried green leafy vegetables sometimes with lentil balls (bori)
  • Santula - Lightly spiced assortment of steamed vegetables
  • Tomato chutney - A very sweet chutney made of tomatoes, dates and sugar.

Desserts & snacks

Aarisha Pitha

  • Chhena Gaja - Deep fried ricotta cheese soaked in sugar syrup
  • Chhenna Poda - Baked sweetened ricotta cheese cake
  • Chhena Kheeri - A kheer made with cubes of ricotta cheese
  • Chhena Jalebi - A jalebi made with kneaded ricotta cheese
  • Chhena jhili - fried cheese in sugar syrup
  • Kalakand - Shaped sweets made from condensed milk
  • Khaja - Shaped dough fried and drizzled with sugar syrup
  • Kheeri - Rice cooked in sweetened condensed milk
  • Kheersagar - cheese dumplings in condensed milk
  • Laddoo - Sweet balls made from lentils and dry fruits
  • Lassi - Sweet chilled yoghurt drink, occasionally flavored in rose water
  • Malpua - Sweetened deep fried batter of a mixture of bananas and flour
  • Mitha Dahi - Sweet yoghurt with a hint of cardamom
  • Mathapuli - Sweet dish made from Urad dal (lentils)
  • Pitha - Coconut, lentil, jaggery, condensed dairy products in crepes
  • Rasmalai - Cheese dumplings in thickened, sweetened milk
  • Rasabali - Flattened disks of ricotta cheese soaked in sweetened condensed milk
  • Rasagolla - Cheese dumplings in sugar syrup

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