Khechudi, Dalma, Saaga and Bhaja: A Taste of Odia Cuisine

Khechudi, Dalma, Saaga and Bhaja A Taste of Odia Cuisine

Odia cuisine is one of the oldest and richest cuisines in India, with a history of over 3000 years. It reflects the diverse culture and geography of Odisha, which is home to many tribes, castes and religions. Odia cuisine is influenced by the Jagannath Temple culture, which promotes vegetarianism and offers food to the deity as prasad. Odia cuisine also has a strong coastal influence, as Odisha has a long coastline along the Bay of Bengal and is famous for its seafood dishes.

One of the most popular and common dishes in Odia cuisine is khechudi, which is a type of khichdi made with rice and lentils. Khechudi can be either sweet or savory, depending on the ingredients and spices used. Sweet khechudi is made with rice, moong dal (split green gram), ghee (clarified butter), sugar, raisins, cashews and cardamom. Savory khechudi is made with rice, moong dal, ghee, turmeric, cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. Khechudi is often cooked in large quantities and offered as prasad to Lord Jagannath.

Khichdi Prepaed by Sangram Keshari Senapati

Dalma is another signature dish of Odia cuisine, which is a thick stew of lentils and vegetables. Dalma can be made with different types of lentils, such as arhar dal (split pigeon pea), moong dal or chana dal (split chickpea). The vegetables used in dalma vary according to the season and availability, but some common ones are potato, pumpkin, brinjal (eggplant), tomato, drumstick, raw banana, papaya and yam. Dalma is seasoned with panch phoron (a five-spice mix of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds), ginger, garlic, green chilies, turmeric and salt. Dalma is usually served with rice or roti (flatbread).

Delicious Dalma Image shared by Tapas Ranjan

Saaga is the Odia word for leafy greens, which are an essential part of Odia cuisine. Saaga can be prepared in different ways, such as boiled, fried or sautéed with spices. Some of the common types of saaga are palak (spinach), laal saaga (red amaranth), poi saaga (Malabar spinach), saru saaga (colocasia leaves) and methi saaga (fenugreek leaves). Saaga is rich in iron, calcium and vitamins and provides a balanced diet along with rice and dal. Bhaja adds a crunchy and spicy touch to the meal and can be enjoyed with khechudi or dalma.

Poi Saaga

Khechudi, dalma, saaga, and bhaja are some of the quintessential dishes of Odia cuisine that showcase its diversity and simplicity. They are easy to prepare and delicious to eat. They also represent the culture and tradition of Odisha and its people. If you want to experience the authentic taste of Odia cuisine, you should definitely try these dishes.

Note: All these photographs are taken by Tapas Ranjan and Sangram Keshari Senapati.

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