Monday, December 5, 2016

7 Traditional Odia Meals Which Are A Storehouse Of Nutrition!

Odia_Thali (2)

For many the word ‘traditional’ might sound boring, since off late there has been an increasing trend to consume or cook foodstuffs which are trendy or are promoted by big brands. Well, these are fine once in a while but alarmingly, these are fast replacing the traditional diets on a routine basis besides causing serious health problems. On a contrary, traditional meals have been developed with time and methods of cooking preserved through years keeping in mind the usefulness of ingredients. These dishes aren’t just a part of our culture but are also a store house of nutrients.

 

Here’s a list of dishes that are exclusive to the Odia cuisine:

 

1) Dalma

Well, no other Indian thali offers this wonderful, wholesome dish prepared out of pulses and vegetables. It has a typical flavour due to a topping of grounded roasted jeera, red chillies powder mixed with oil & spices. Dalma is not only a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals but is also easy to cook and combined with rice, it forms a complete meal in itself.

 

Untitled-1-1

Pic Courtesy: Dalma

 

2) Ghanta

Ghanta literally means a mix, so this dish is a mixture of all seasonal and local vegetables. It’s a curry made using vegetables like brinjal, pumpkin, raw banana, a variety of gourds such as potala and kankada, drumstick, potato, yam etc. In winters cabbage, peas,carrot & other seasonal vegetables are also added. Such a dish is high in roughage besides supplying with rich nutrients. At times, prawns or shredded and de-boned fish can be added to the vegetable mix to elevate the protein content in the diet.

 

Ghanta

Pic Courtesy: archanaskitchen

 

3) Saaga

As per a study, the Odia community eat the largest variety of green leafy vegetables or what is commonly known as Saaga. This typical odia dish uses drumstick leaves (sajnasaaga), radish leaves (mulasaaga), pumpkin leaves and flowers (Kakharupatra and phula), and other saaga like kosala, leutia, khada, poi. The pita (bitter) saaga is even offered to Lord Jagannath at some places in Odisha. They are prepared by adding Panchaphutana, with or without onion/garlic. These leafy vegetables are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A and other elements.

 

It is interesting to note that no other regional cuisine makes use of the pumpkin plant apart from the main fruit. The leaves and the flowers are coated in gram flour batter and deep fried in oil which is eaten as an accompaniment with the main course.

 

Saaga

Pic Courtesy: priyankacookbook

 

4) Besara

This is a dish very typical of Odia and Bengali cuisines. Veg as well as non-veg dishes are prepared in this way. The “besara” is characterized by the slight pungent smell of mustard paste that goes into making it. Generally, these preparations consume less oil as compared to gravies, and mustard is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and anti- oxidants. Besides, mustard also helps to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

 

Fish_Besara

Pic Courtesy: Dalma

 

5) Fish and sea food

Odisha being a coastal state with a long coastline and quite a few rivers running across its length and breadth, fish and sea food has always been a part of the staple Odia meal. Though similar to Bengalis in the preference of fish as an important part of the diet, the Odia palate dictates a taste for more fresh water fish than marine water fish cooked in curries with milder taste than its Bengali counterpart. In majority of Odia households, one would normally see a preference for species like Hilsa (Illisi in local lingo), Rohu (Rohi in Odia), Catla (Bhakura) or Pohala. The Odia fish curry or Machha Jholo or Besara is a simple dish cooked in enough gravy and served with rice.

 

Hilsa_Fish_Curry

Pic Courtesy: recipeshubs

 

6) Khatta

The name suggests that it is a sour dish but with a tangy, sugary taste mostly of a thick syrupy consistently. The whole year round “Khatta” is made with different basic ingredients like tomatoes, mangoes, dates, pineapple etc. and no thali is complete without this lip-smacking dish. It also provides a good amounts of vitamin C, fiber besides being a good appetizer.

 

Khatta

Pic Courtesy: theweekendepicurean

 

7) Dahi Pachedi / Dahi Baigana

However, one thing our Odia thali used to lack was raw fruits or vegetables, but this has been taken care of by the delicacy called ‘dahi pachedi’ or ‘dahi baigana.’ Dahi Pachedi is prepared by mixing curd with chopped bits of cucumber, apple, pomegranate seeds, grated coconut etc. This supplies a good dose of vitamin B and other vitamins which otherwise get lost during cooking.

 

Dahi_Pachidi

Pic Courtesy: honeyrestaurant

 

Another rendition with curd is one very distinctive preparation of the Dahi Baigana – fried eggplant and onion marinated with savory yogurt. It’s a raita– a yogurt based dish that acts as a palate soother to the spicy spread of all the other dishes on the menu. This specific dish is a typical Odia raita manages to compliment the flavors and aroma of the several other dishes, all the while keeping its distinct identity. Yogurt imparts a very creamy texture to the preparation and cuts down on any fattiness that may come from the fried eggplant and onions.

 

The meaty Brinjal too has no fat and its high fibre content makes it suitable for people who want to shed some weight. The fibre in it also clears the digestive system and helps prevent colon cancer. It is also rich in minerals, boasting a large quantity of potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.

Dahi_Baigana

Pic Courtesy: breathingroots

 

These are just a few dishes found in the standard traditional thali but there are a number of dishes depending upon the local and regional taste, which would probably generate enough material to write a book on odia cuisine. Some of them being very rare and typical grandma’s recipes which our children may never be able to relish.

 

Ironically many of these are also being re-introduced as health foods. But the fact is that it’s a legacy we have inherited and should preserve it. It should not be confined to temple Prasad or to be consumed on select occasions only. Mothers and homemakers should try and introduce as many traditional dishes as possible so that children develop a taste for these and on the other hand we are assured of their good health in the long run.

 

Feature Image Courtesy: Dalma