A good friend’s wedding at Berhampur, Sambhalpuri and Pasapalli weaves, Gopalpur-on-Sea, the priests at Puri, the irritating guide who insisted on explaining only the juicy bits of the Konark sculptures, a cruise on the Chilka lake to see the flying ducks and flamingoes, traditional Oriya meals in Bhubaneswar and Puri and an Oriya colleague’s grievance that Bengal appropriated much of the credit for what was originally Oriya – when RCI-Orissa was announced, I knew I had to participate for all these memories.
It seems to be such a modest State, one that doesn’t thump its chest despite a wealth of treasures. Till I met the two people I mentioned, I didn’t know much about Orissa, except a little bit about its natural resources from Geography text books, Emperor Ashoka and his repentance on realising the gravity of what he had done by waging the Kalinga War, and my mother’s childhood memory of frightening, baton-wielding pandas at the Jagannath temple in Puri. To date, I’ve not seen a single cookbook on Orissa cuisine available in English in India, and even on the Internet, there are just those few recipes circulating in various sources.
Thankfully, though, somebody did write about a restaurant called Dalma in Bhubaneswar and that’s where we went for an Oriya thali. What did we have – we had dalma, which looked nothing like mine, a lovely mustardy fish preparation or two, a raita of fresh curds and banana stem, a santula, which is a mild, vegetable preparation. At a resort near Puri, we had, among other things, a preparation of fried vadis with spring onion and garlic, almost Indo-Chinese in taste (!) and chena poda pitha, that lovely, sweet baked paneer preparation that we saw everywhere we visited in the State!
This is the first of the dalma dishes I am posting – I gather that the vegetables and the lentils can be varied; this version uses yellow lentils, the other uses toor dal!
Here we go, it’s adapted from this http://www.indiacurrents.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=7de1730e53649217dd5e422186f7793b">source
Channa dal/chickpea lentils – 1 cup, pressure cooked till soft
Kala channa (black chickpea) – ½ cup, soaked overnight, pressure cooked for just two whistles
Potato – 1, medium, diced
Sweet potato – 3-4 pieces, each an inch long
(Yellow) Pumpkin – 10 pieces, each an inch long
Eggplant – 1-2, diced (I used the round, small, purple variety)
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Garlic – 1-2 pods
Oil – 2 tbsp
Pancha phutana – Cumin (jeera), black mustard, fennel (saunf), fenugreek (methi) and nigella (kala jeera) in the ratio of 4-4-2-2-1
Cumin powder, made from 1 tbsp of roasted cumin
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
In a pressure cooker, cook the cut vegetables, lentils and black chickpea for 5 minutes.
In a pan, heat oil, fry the garlic. Add the pancha phutana, let it pop and add to the vegetable-lentil mixture once the pressure cooker cools down.
Add the cumin and chilli powders, mix. Serve with rice.
RCI - Orissa is hosted by Swapna of Swad.
Regional Cuisines of India Dalma Orissa