I love the food from Odisha, and partly to blame is my father’s obsession with Puri. At one point of time, we would go to Puri virtually every month, and I loved the people, the beach, and the food. My father had this obsession of getting fish, vegetables and chicken from the market and giving it to the cook for lunch, and the result would be amazing. It was with a good deal of anticipation I went to the Odisha food festival at The Stadel (sadly, its over now) and I wasn’t disappointed.
A large platter filled with white rice, served with an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian sides, and a big bowl filled with pariba khechuri, soft vegetables cooked with rice and mung beans, laden with ghee, which is exactly what you might fall in love with on a cold, rainy day, with an assortment of fried goodies lacing the plate.
Among the vegetarian items what makes me happy is the perfectly cooked cabbage – Bandhakopir Santula, served with perfectly fried, puffed up luchi, and the hit from freshly pounded garam masala, especially cardamom reminds me of lazy Sunday afternoons and consuming more than I could.
My other favourite was the Badi tarkari. I rarely see Badi (sun-dried lentil dumplings) on the menu, and this version was spicy, with a runny gravy which is great for mixing in with white rice.
And for the people who love their fish and meat, Odisha has much to offer. From a plethora of fish dishes to chicken and meat, the platters kept on coming.
Little fishes, deep fried till crunchy, served with a wedge of lime. With rice and dal, or consumed solo – a whole plate disappeared before my eyes.
The chicken curry with potatoes was simply cooked, hints of tomatoes and onions and cinnamon, with soft chunks of potato which went rather nicely with both luchi and rice. With some chillies and a lemon wedge squeezed in, I sank into my seat and ate my weight in it. I also had some of the mutton – Mangsher Tarkari – which was nice, but nothing to write home about.
Desserts were simple – the Malpua was thin, crisp on the edges, saturated with sugar. The other favourite from the platter for me was the Chhanar Jilipi, soft, sweet, and rather delicate. I do hope the Odisha food festival returns to The Stadel soon, because I loved the comfort the food offered.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to The Stadel by the management.