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Showing posts with label Odia cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Odia cuisine. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Curious Case of the Banana Peel and other Slippery Tales

Nigella Lawson discovers banana peels are edible! "Eu tu" lauds the universe when all I want to scream is "Déjà vu"? And I do speak for myself or rather that part of the world which my ancestors inhabited. That little dot on the map that I would still call home even if I lived halfway across the globe. And follow that unwritten code of existing in harmony with nature that they had advocated. For long long ago when GM foods were not even conceived and the green revolution in India had not brought about substantial change in our food habits, my ancestors had exhibited the highest degree of reverence for every scrap of food. The concept of peeling fruits and vegetables was limited and applicable only to those that had been rendered inedible by the presence of a hard and/or hairy exterior or even certain And those habits were honed further by the periods of drought or famine that routinely ravaged the area.

But with the advent of modern methods and technology, there was enough food for everyone. And even more to waste for those who could afford it. Cosmetic or rather aesthetic approaches crept into the Indian kitchens. Those mud-stained layers that betrayed the origins became an eyesore. And peeling those ugly outer layers became the norm. Catalyzed further by those glossies with their borrowed ideas of good food and nutrition that had started invading at least some of the middle-class homes. Never mind in the process we were generating more and more kitchen waste. It would take a couple more decades for people to awaken to the problem of landfills and the leaching Methane punching holes in the Ozone layer. 

Getting back to those slippery and not so slippery peels, they have always enjoyed a lot of respect and adulation in Odia cuisine, often with a separate mention of the properties of the peels in traditional medicine. It won't be an exaggeration to claim that there is a whole genre of recipes centered around the now discarded peels. Interestingly there is one that is even offered to the Gods. Peels have always been minced, ground, crisped, or curried into various delicacies. Especially those of the gourd family and of course those of the banana/plantain.

While I already have a couple of them on the blog, this is one that is the easiest to prepare and needs no cooking. 

Ripe Banana Peel Chutney

This is usually made with the banana varieties having yellow or light green peels. Pick organic bananas that are completely ripe and unblemished. 

Ingredients -

1 Ripe yellow banana 

1 garlic clove

1 green chili ( or 1/4 tsp chili flakes)

1 tsp jaggery 

1/2 tsp Tamarind paste

1 tsp chopped cilantro

a pinch of cumin powder

1/3 tsp salt ( adjust as per taste )

Preparation -

Peel the banana and snip off both ends. Chop the peel into smaller pieces.

Transfer the chopped peel to a chutney jar or small mixer jar. Add all other ingredients except the cilantro. Give it a quick buzz. The texture need not be very smooth. 

Taste and adjust the salt/jaggery/heat. 

Can be served as a side during the meals or as a dip with snacks. 

The plantain peels on the other hand can be prepared using this recipe.

Still curious? Read on to find out a whole range of recipes derived from the different parts of the banana/plantain plants which was a permanent fixture in most Odia homes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sankha Saru Tarkari ( Arbi cooked with tomatoes and lentil dumplings )

Taro (Arbi) or Saru is perhaps one of the most widely consumed vegetables in Odisha and finds it's way into a variety of dishes like dalma, santula, besara and ghanta. Though used in a smaller proportion as compared to other vegetables, it lends a thick consistency and sweetness to the curry. Upon being thoroughly cooked, the vegetable turns sticky and this kind of binds the lentils and vegetables together. This is why one should not add too much of this vegetable to any curry as one does not want to end up with a sticky gloopy mess.

But apart from the culinary aspect, this is one vegetable that boasts of multiple health benefits. It is easy on the digestive system, controls sugar levels, boosts the immune system and even speeds up the blood circulation. No wonder this vegetable is widely used during the fasting period of Navratri and even the  'no onion no garlic' days which are an integral part of the Hindu culture.

In Odisha, the taro plant along with the plantain, used to be an integral part of every garden/backyard in earlier days. The tubers used to be harvested only after the plants died off naturally (else they tend to be itchy) and then stored for use throughout the year. My parents still grow taro in our garden though not in very large quantity. It is enough to last us a few months. The 'Sankha saru' is a relatively larger variety of Taro and is so called as the shape resembles a conch. Apart from being used in the regular Odia dishes, it is often dipped in a rice batter and pan fried. But at times, when the vegetable supply dries up, as it usually does during the summer months, it is made into a light curry with some tomatoes, badi (lentil dumplings) and a light mustard gravy.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 200 gm Taro cubes
  • 2 medium sized country tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 2 pinch mustard seeds
  • 2 pinch turmeric powder
  • a handful of badi ( dried lentil dumplings ) 
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

For the mustard paste -

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 2-3 garlic flakes 

Preparation - Grind the mustard seeds, garlic and red chili into a fine paste.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the badi and fry on a low flame till they start turning red. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and broken red chili. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the coarsely chopped onion.

Once onion turns translucent, add the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt over them and cover with a lid for 2 mins to soften them.

Remove the lids and smash the tomatoes. Cook for another 2-3 mins .

Dissolve the mustard paste in 1 cup water and pour slowly into the wok . This ensures that the sediments of the mustard paste do not go into the curry and turn it bitter.

Now add the taro cubes, slat and turmeric. Cover with a lid till just cooked. Do not overcook as they will turn sticky.

Crush the badi lightly and add to the curry jsut before removing it from the flame.

Taro tends to absorb water and so does the lentil dumplings. So do not worry if there is any excess liquid remaining.

Serve at room temperature with steamed rice or even pakhala.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chingudi Jholo (Odia Prawn Curry)

The staple Chingudi (prawn) recipe from Odisha had been missing from my blog for so long. This I realized with a shock (or was it more of a disappointment ?) when I was trying to do some minor changes on my posts. This version is more popular than the 'Chingudi Besara' that is prevalent only in the western regions of the state. While the masala used is the staple 'onion-garlic-ginger-green cardamom-cinnamon' combo, one must take care to get the right texture. Too fine a paste makes it a thick gravy while over-frying the masala tends to caramelize it and changes the flavour (kind of intensifies it)of the curry. My family prefers this curry to be mellow and kind of watery ('pania jholo' as we say in Odia) but then different folks have different preferences.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins
Ingredients -

  • 500 gms prawns (I have used small ones)
  • 1 large potato 
  • 1 large onion + 1 small one
  • 12-13 garlic flakes
  • 1 1/2 inch ginger
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 2 inch long cinnamon
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder, 
  • 1/3 tsp red chili powder ( I have used less as the whole chilis were very spicy, adjust as per taste )
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbs oil

Preparation - Clean prawn and add salt and turmeric. Allow to marinate for 15 mins.

Grind the cumin seeds, 2 cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon and red chillis into a powder. Add  the small onion, half of the garlic flakes and 1 inch ginger to the same grinder jar. Grind till the paste is smooth.Keep aside.

Finely chop the tomatoes and keep aside.

Coarsely grind the remaining onion and keep aside. Crush together the remaining garlic pod and ginger using a mortar and pestle. Take care not to make a very fine paste.

Cut the potato into cubes.

Cooking- Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan. Add the marinated prawns and fry till golden. Remove and keep aside.

Add another tbs of oil into the wok. Add the potato pieces. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add coarse onion paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the sugar and allow it to turn brown. Add the crushed garlic-ginger and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the ground masala along with turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for 4-5 minutes till the raw smell goes off.

Add tomato and fry for another 3-4 minutes or till it turns mushy.

Add 3 cups of boiling water to the wok. Bring to a boil on high flame.

Add fried potatoes and prawns to the wok. Cover with a lid and allow to boil for 7-8 minutes or till potatoes are cooked.

Powder the remaining cinnamon and cardamom and add to the curry. After 1-2 minutes, switch off the flame.

Serve hot with white rice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sukhua Besara Tarkari

Its too early in the season for Pakhala. But I could not resist a quickie. And with no vegetables in the fridge last week, I got a good excuse for this one.

Yeah, its 'Sukhua' or dried fish. Very popular in all coastal areas on India (Odisha happens to be no exception), these are a boon when the vegetable supply dries up (especially in summers). And it so happens with us folks that we love it but are scared to own up. Blame it on the former's reputation as the poor man's food. Nothing that wannabes like us would like to be associated with. Aren't we the quintessential aspiring lot ?? Take heart people suffering from such a malaise, it is quite popularly used in cuisines from other countries ( including our favorite Chinese ).

If you are still on this page, I am sharing a simple recipe made with dried anchovies. Made with 'besara', the mustard-garlic paste that happens to be the mainstay of Oriya cuisine, it is a breeze to make. But do open the doors and the windows to let in some breeze while cooking it else your house might end up smelling like the neighboring  fish-market or 'maccha-haata' as we call it. Read on:

Preparation Time - 15 mins (plus 30 mins soaking time)

Ingredients -

  • Dried anchovies/smelt fish ( 1 cup )
  • Baby potatoes ( 1/2 cup )
  • pearl onions ( 1/3 cup )
  • 1 medium sized ripe tomato
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillis
  • 8 garlic flakes
  • 1 ambula (dried mango,optional)
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the dried fish in some warm water for 1 hour. At the same time soak the ambula in a separate cup with 1/2 cup warm water.

Wash and the cut the baby potatoes into half. Peel and cut the pearl onions into half. Finely chop the tomato.

Grind the mustard seeds with 1 green chilli and half of the garlic cloves into a fine paste.

Cooking - Smoke the fish on a wire mesh for the smokey flavour. Then soak it in water for 5-6 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the broken green chilli and crushed garlic cloves. Fry for 1 minute.

Add the soaked anchovies. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the baby potatoes.pearl onions and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the mustard paste with 1 - 1 1/2 cups water, salt and turmeric. Cover with a lid and allow to cook till potatoes are half done. Add chopped tomatoes and cook covered till potatoes are 80 percent done.

Add the soaked ambula along with the water used for soaking. Allow to cook uncovered till most of the water evaporates and potatoes are done. Remove from flame.

Serve with 'pakhala' or white rice and dal. (If eating with pakhla, do not forget to serve some green chillis and onions)

The frugal ingredients and the final dish . If you have a taste for pungent food, this is a must try !!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chittau Pitha

Made with rice and coconut, the Chittau pitha is a beautifully perforated dish from Odisha that reminds one of the appams. The usage of black lentil is optional though with some people avoiding it altogether. If black lentil is added it is called ' Biri Chittau'.  Addition of black lentil can also be avoided during the summers or in a hot climate as itcauses rapid fermentation and makes the batter sour.

Cooking Time Required: 30-35 mins

Ingredients: Raw rice/ arua ( 4 cups ), coconut ( 1 no ), salt to taste, oil for cooking.

Preparation: Wash and soak the rice for 4-5 hours. Drain and transfer to the mixie jar.

Break the coconut and cut into small pieces.

Add the coconut pieces to the same mixie jar. Grind into a fine and watery paste.

Keep aside for 2-3 hours to allow for fermentation in hot weather. 5-6 hours is needed for cold weather.

Cooking: Heat a thick bottomed wok ( kadai ). Add a little oil .

Add salt to the batter and mix well. Pour sufficient batter into the wok to form a

thick pancake.

Cover with a lid. Take a wet cloth and put around the rim of the lid.( OR sprinkle

water along the sides of the wok )

Allow to cook on a low flame for 5-6 minutes ( Do not flip over ).

Remove from the wok.

Note: Chitta pitha is cooked on one side only and remains soft on the other side. Its

distinguishing feature is the presence of tiny holes all over its surface.

Any guesses as to the best way of devouring these piping hot beauties ???

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Poda Pitha And Ratha Jatra (The famous Chariot Festival of Puri)

Ratha Jatra also known as the Chariot festival or Car festival, is one of the most important festivals in Orissa and also a major tourist attraction. This festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Jaganaath who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Every year in the month of Asada, the Chariots of the Lord Jaganath accompained with those of his siblings, Lord Balabhadra & Goddess Subhadra roll from Srimandira to Gundicha temple, the abode of his Mausi maa ( Mother's sister ). The sight of the sea of humanity which follows the Gods during this journey is a truely overwhelming experience.

The majestic sandalwood chariots take more than two months to prepare and are built newly every year. The chariots also have very interesting names :
Nandighosa - Lord Jaganath's chariot
Taladhwaja - Lord Balabharda's chariot
Darpadalan - Lord subhadra's chariot.

Important rituals on this day are :
Pahandi - the Lords are carried from the temple to the chariots in a grand procession; and
Chera pahanra - the chariots of the Lords are swept by the incumbent King of Puri with a broom which has a few gold strands in it.

The chariots are pulled by the eager followers who believe it be aspicious. The journey takes about midday to evening. In case the Lords are not able to complete the journey on the same day, they resume the remaining jouney on the next day.

The Lords stay at Gundicha temple for 7 days and return to Shri mandira in a similar procession which is called the Bahuda or Ulta Ratha Jatra.

During their stay at the Mausi Maa Mandira, various edibles are offered to the Lords as prasad. SOme of them are Khaee, Khira Kadali, Gajja, Pheni, Poda pitha, Manda pitha, Enduri pitha, Arissa pitha and Karaka pitha.

Ratha jatra is also celebrated at the ISKON temples and by the oriya community settled in various parts of India and abroad.

Catch the live action in Hyderabad @ Jaganath Temple, Banjara Hills or @ ISKON temple, Secundrabad.

Jai Jaganath!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Anda Tarkari ( Odisha style Egg curry)

Egg Curry is one of my favorites right from the childhood days. Since half of the family members were vegetarian by choice, egg used to be the most preferred non-veg ingredient unless we had guests coming over. And after I got married, I discovered that it is not only tasty but also easy to prepare. Luckily, I was able to convince my hard-core non-vegetarian husband into trying it out. But not without it's share of drama. But all's well that ends well. My efforts paid off for now he is a fan of the humble yet flavorsome Egg curry.

Read on for the recipe -

Cooking Time Required: 25-30 mins


  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 medium sized onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 inch ginger 
  • 8-9 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 dry red chillis
  • 2 inch long cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pinch garam masala powder 
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation: Take a pan of water. Add the eggs along with a 1 tsp vinegar (keeps the eggs from cracking during boiling) and boil for 8-10 mins. Remove from fire and allow to cool.Break open and remove the shell.

Grind the onions, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, garlic, red chillis, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and cardamon into a fine paste along with a little water.

Make a puree out of the tomato.

Cooking: Heat 2 tsp of oil in a wok. Add a pinch of turmeric and the eggs. Fry till eggs turn reddish brown. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Cut the potatoes into long slices/cubes and add to the wok. Stir fry till it turns golden brown. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Pour the remaining oil into the wok. Add the sugar and wait for it to turn a little brown.

Add the masala paste along with salt (helps in cooking faster) and keep stirring at regular intervals till the raw smell goes off.

Follow with the pureed tomato.  Add 3-4 cups of water to the paste and bring to a boil.

Add the fried eggs and potatoes and boil for 5-10 mins. Sprinkle garam masala on top and remove from fire.

Serve hot with either rice or roti.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meetha Suji (Suji ka Halwa)

Meetha Suji. I kind of grew up eating this version of 'Suji halwa' as it is popularly known in most parts of the country . Seasoned with bay leaves and just the right amount of ghee, it was the answer to every Odia kid's 4 o' clock hunger pangs. 

Cooking Time Required : 10-15 minutes

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup Suji/semolina
  • 4-5 tsp sugar 
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • dry fruits (raisins and cashews, i skipped as my kid does not like )
  • 2-3 nos bay leaves
  • 1 pinch salt

Cooking: Heat a pan. Put 1 tsp of ghee on it. Add the suji and stir periodically till it darkens a few shades(light brown). Remove from fire and keep aside. Fry the cashews and keep aside.

Pour 2 cups of water into a deep vessel (kadai) and put on the stove. Bring to a boil. Add the roasted suji and mix it continuously to prevent lumps formation. When the suji starts solidifying, add the sugar, cardamon and ghee. Mix it till the sugar almost dissolves, add the cashews and raisins, and remove from the stove. Keep it covered for 5 mins. Serve it hot.

An old of mine with lots of added raisins and cashews :) :) !!

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