Bhubaneswar - A Foodie's Day Worth !!!
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The city wakes up to a breakfast of 'Dahibara ghuguni aludum', a curious mish-mash of watery dahi baras, yellow peas curry and dum aloo embellished with some chopped onions and sev, and spiked with a special chutney/masala. While one might have some misgivings before tucking into it, everything is forgotten after that very first bite which leaves a tantalizing feeling all over the mouth. It is the perfect breakfast, being lightly spiced and yet quite filling as well. Vendors carrying huge aluminium pots on cycles can be found at almost every corner of the city or wherever you can find a crowd in the morning hours. And they do some real brisk business as almost all of them are sold out before noon. This dish starts at a unbelievable Rs 5/- per plate and the price goes up depending on the quantity. While the dahi baras are mandatory, one can also choose to go with either curry instead of both.
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The melt-in-the-mouth 'Pahala rasgulla' is the next dish on one's itinerary. One has to travel about 20 kms from the center of Bhubaneswar on NH 5 to reach this small village. The best time to reach this place is around 11 am when the first lot of the day comes out and the freshly made rasgullas are still warm to touch. These dimpled cheese balls are tender beyond any stretch of imagination and just seem to melt away on one's tongue leaving behind a sensation of utter bliss. Having sampled some of these buff colored beauties with just the slightest hint of cardamom, one is sure to be addicted for life. And these rasgullas are not too sweet which makes it possible to dig into a couple of them without feeling too guilty about it !
Along the same route, one can sample yet another delicacy which goes by the name of 'Matihandi mutton'. This is mutton cooked in rustic style in earthen pots on a wood-fired flame. This slow cooking lends the meat a deliciously smoked flavour and also imparts it a darker hue while the earthen pot acts as a kind of sponge which absorbs the excess oil and fat. Without all that lard clogging one's tastebuds, one can relish the divine texture and exquisite taste of the meat which is still tender yet juicy. This dish goes best with some fine grained 'arua' rice. After a heavy lunch as this, one would do best with a seista but a foodie's quest is never ending. Hence we return to the center of Bhubaneshwar to sample more of the city's delights.
A short stopover at Lingaraj Lassi at Shahid Nagar Pandal is next on the itinerary. After a spicy lunch, something as soothing as this rich and very unique lassi is most welcome. Apart from the usual yogurt and sugar, a multitude of addons like rabdi (the key ingredient), freshly grated coconut, chopped cherries, dry fruits and pineapple essence make this one unforgettable drink. Unlike the yogurt and milk lassi that one finds in Punjab, the yogurt and rabdi combination leave a very different feel all over one's mouth. It is sure to seep into those remote corners of one's tummy that might still be unoccupied after that sumptuous mutton lunch. The effect is such that one starts feeling real drowsy after consuming a glass. Not a big problem as one can squeeze in a bit of an afternoon nap before the next eating spree. The climate is hot and humid and the evening stalls come alive only after six.
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Come evenings and the multitude of chaat, gupchup ( a variation of pani-puri that has more aloo in it ), pav-bhaji, roll and Chinese fast food stalls start buzzing with activity. One of the city's favorite picks are the chaat stalls lined up in front of RD Women's college. The yellow peas curry topped with grated beetroot, carrot, coconut, broken papdi, sev, yogurt, onions, green chilis, chaat masala and ofcourse the 'dahi-bara' is served sizzling hot. The amalgamation of the hot, sour and sweet flavours are sure to fire up those taste-buds. But make it as point to reach there on time as the best stalls get stocked out quite .
Another unique combination that needs to be tried is the 'Malpua-Aludum' that is sold in Market building, one of the most visited shopping avenues. The sweet succulent Malpuas are dunked into a spicy Aludum gravy to create a strikingly remarkable gastronomic experience. The crunchy edges, the lusciously soft middle, the tangy-spicy gravy somewhat mellowed by the sugary syrup and even the deep fried potato chunks all have different textures and with each bite one gets to relish a different taste.
It is almost dinner time and one's mind might be begging for an encore after that delicious lunch of 'Matihandi mutton and arua bhata'. But it is not the time to let oneself be seduced by the lure of the flesh for our foodie voyage can hardly be complete without the final stopover at Priya's. This South Indian eating joint has been in business for more than 30 years and has considerably expanded its business from its first branch located at Kharavela nagar. But my husband still swears by the taste of its 'Butter Masala Dosa' which has remained unchanged since his school days. It also serves great choley-bhatura and other North Indian dishes. It is the lip-smacking taste combined with the variety and affordability which makes this place click. Since it is jam packed during the peak hours and one has to wait for up to an hour to find a table, it makes sense to reach the place before one is hit by those full fledged hunger pangs.
All good things must come to an end and thus it is time to bring our one day foodie tour of Bhubaneshwar to an end. Hope you enjoyed the journey !!