Compared to other regional Indian cuisines, Odia cuisine (Odia: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଖାଦ୍ୟ) uses less oil and is less spicy while nonetheless remaining flavourful. Rice is the staple food of this region. Mustard oil is used in some dishes as the cooking medium, but ghee(made up of cow milk) is preferred in temples. In old times food was traditionally served on banana leaves or disposable plates made of sal leaves.
Odia cooks, particularly from the Puri region, were much sought after due to their ability to cook food in accordance with Hindu scriptures. During the 19th century, many Odia cooks were employed in Bengal and they took many Odia dishes with them. This period also saw a heavy demand for Brahmin cooks, leading many Odia cooks to fake their castes.
Yoghurt is used in dishes. Many sweets of the region are based on chhena (cheese).
Panch phutana is a blend of five spices that is widely used in Odia cuisine. It contains mustard, cumin, fenugreek, aniseed and kalonji. 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
The food 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.
Temples in region make offerings to the presiding deities. The prasada of the Jagannath Temple is well known and is specifically called Maha Prasad meaning greatest of all prasadas. It consists of 56 recipes, so it is called chhapan bhoga. It is based on the legend that Krishna missed his eight meals for seven days while trying to save a village from a storm holding up the Govardhan hill as a shelter.
Fish and other seafoods are eaten mainly in coastal areas. Several curries are prepared from prawn and lobster with spices. Freshwater fish is available from rivers and irrigation canals. Rohu, Catla and Ilishi are the famous freshwater fishes used in curries.
In Odia cuisine, sāga is one of the most important vegetables. It is popular all over the state. A list of the plants that are used as sāga is as below. Odias typically eat lots of cooked green leaves. They are prepared by adding "pancha phutana", with or without onion/garlic, and are best enjoyed with pakhala.
One of the most popular is lali koshala saaga made from green leaves with red stems.Other saagas that are eaten are pita gahama, khada, poi, koshala, sajana etc. Some items are as follows;
Sajana Chhuin Bhaja
While savouring Chingudi malai curry (prawns with rich Oriya spices) and kukuda jhola (chicken cooked with spices and egg), the friend soaked in the atmosphere and was transported back to the sight and smell of his native place.
Oriya dishes like khiri, khichdi, kasha mansa were also prepared by the contestants.
The Odia thali consists of tangy khatta and proceeds further with traditional dishes such as the green and healthy spinach item saga badi.
Mouth-watering malpua, rasagulla, rasamalai, gulab jamun and other Oriya sweetmeats are served here.
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