Exclusive mouthwatering Cuisines of Western Odisha
Typical cuisines of western Odisha are unique since some of them are not at all available in other regions
By – Himanshu Guru
Western Odisha hosts a range of distinctive tasty culinary. Some of the popular items are chaulbara, kardibhaja, hendua chutchuta, bhuja pudia, limb phool bhaja, ambil, letha, patalghanta puda, aloo puda etc.
Even the region has some festival specific cuisines like rasbaraa, a sweet dish prepared from green gram and sugar, moog-sijhaa, a sweet recipe made off boiled green gram, sarsatiaa and tikhri.
In the colonial era, western Odisha happened to be a rich region. Unlike the present day, then migration issue, starvation death etc. were not prevalent. Back then, people of this region basically depended upon agriculture. They were harvesting not only paddy but a variety of vegetables and cereals and nuts. Perhaps that was the reason they had a number of typical cuisines. People of this area are foodies. Actually, the long range of delicious cuisines makes them foodie.
One of the popular foods of western Odisha, chaulbara, was earlier limited to home kitchens, but later it received commercial recognition. Approximately two decades before, it was sold in small kiosks. It was served along with tamarind soup, locally called tetel jhol and fried green chilies.
In the thelas, chaul bara is served in leaf made containers, locally called ‘dana’. Garnishing of black salt on the bara doubles the taste. As such eating in ‘dana’ provides a better taste, as one also inhales the smell of the green leaves. No doubt chaul bara is a mouthwatering snack. It is available almost everywhere in western Odisha including Kalahandi, Bolangir, Barpali, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Bhawanipatna and Sonepur.
Hendua or the dried form of bamboo shoots, another typical food item of western Odisha is eaten roasted or with fried tomatoes, salt, and green chili. It is either hard sundried or pickled and eaten along with other dishes. New sprouts of bamboo culms that are procured from bamboo-forests are sliced. They are fried to prepare the dish. Hendua either is eaten fried or becomes an ingredient of curries like bhendi-patalghanta-hendua or ambil. While it has a sharp and quite distinctive smell, it lends a note of tanginess along with a delectable flavour when added to any dish.
Come rain and people of Western Odisha eagerly wait for the arrival of their most cherished dish Kardi (grated bamboo shoot) in the kitchen menu. This fermented bamboo shoot is used in various culinary preparations and is notably added to a sour vegetable soup called amil. It is also made into pancakes using rice flour as a binding agent. The tender shoots are cooked with tender pumpkin leaves to make a delicious saag green leafy dish. It is also dried and processed to use as a pickle.
In the western part of the state, many items are prepared with Karadi as an ingredient. Karadi, the bamboo shoot is eaten raw or cooked. Karadi bhaja, the most appreciated recipe can be prepared using turmeric powder, rice powder, salt, and oil. The process is – wash the bamboo strands well, squeeze the water out of it, add salt, turmeric powder and rice powder to it. Make flat thin balls of it and deep fry. Serve it hot with rice and dal.
Bamboo shoot pickle is also loved by many. Here is the preparation process. Wash the bamboo strands well; add lemon juice, salt, turmeric powder, chili and mustard oil. Mix well and keep it in a sterilized jar. Keep it under sunlight for some days and the pickle is ready.
At present many people of western Odisha live in different states and even in foreign countries. The diasporas love to follow their culture to satisfy their hunger for typical cuisines. If the ingredients are available in the local market, where they live, they prepare the food and enjoy. Many times, they invite their other friends from western Odisha to dine together. But at many places, all the ingredients are not available and they prepare the item with limited ingredients. Though it fails to provide the original taste, still they are happy about the fact that they enjoy a typical food in a foreign land.
The irony is that some of western Odisha’s typical tasty foods like Karadi and Hendua get dismissed by people of some other region tagging these foods as inedible.
Sanjat Mishra, a native of Bolangir lives in Bangalore along with his family. He has never forgotten the typical cuisines. He said, “Every year we organize Nuakhai Bhetghat and observe Chhadkhai. While in the Bhetghat typical culture of western Odisha is showcased, we prepare typical cuisines of our region in the Chhadkhai. ‘Mansa Jhol’ (mutton curry with soup) is the major item in this group feast attended by above 500 families.”