Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Going Regional

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">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.


  1. Hey that looks appetizing Sra, what a combination of dal, black chana and veggies. RCI is really bringing out the talent ....thanks for the post and a great entry!

  2. i second u sra. never seen any oriya cooking book. from my internet search i have learnt that its much similar to bengali cuisine and oriya cuisine also uses pancha phutana. i cant wait to explore new dimention of taste:) ur being modest when u said ur dalna dont look like the restaurent one:) it looks delicious and i have to try most of the veggie cuisine.

  3. Hi Sra, really mouthwatering recipe. I don't know single recipe of oriya cuisine. still searching. Great entry too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. How lucky to be there in person sra and to enjoy the state of Orissa! I am jealous!:))
    Loved reading all that and Dalma looks great,little thicker but I like that way too.There are 2 books about Oriyan cooking that I know of but there are plenty of recipes available on line.They do use mustard a lot!I didn't have the mustard oil.
    Great post,I liked it!:)

  5. Wow! Thats a complete meal in one shot!

  6. Rightly said, Sra. There aren't many references to Oriya cuisine. I was quite surprised too. This event and round-up should do the justice.

  7. I still haven't done my home work for this RCI, wondering if I should participate or not as the JFI is keeping me real busy.
    Lovely write up and a different recipe to learn.

  8. This is a lovely post, Sra. The dalma looks very tasty.

  9. thanks for desctribing your trip in detail. orissa is such an under-marketed state.

  10. This is something nice. Good recipe Sra :) I am not so familiar with the cuisine.Will take my neighbours help :)

  11. Padma, thank you, I did find the combination unusual.
    Sia, thank you! The restaurant dalna was more gravy-like!
    Jyothi, thanks. Not many entries, from what I could make out.
    Asha, it was a very adventurous trip. Thanks.
    Poonam, yes, it is!
    Suganya, those were my thoughts too!
    Sharmi, JFI's keeping you busy already? Guess I should host an event for the experience.
    Nupur, thanks. It was slightly sweetish, due to the choice of vegetables and v little chilli powder.
    Bee, I totally agree.
    Archana, then you'll probably come up with something very authentic!

  12. Its looking so yummy...will have to try ...


  13. never seen or have a clue about oriya cuisine.. great recipe!

  14. Thnx for dropping by Sra..Nice to have you in my place :)

    I have no idea abt Oriya cuisine..Yellow pumkin and channa dal combo seems to be great!!Nice shot..:)

  15. Great entry. I have never tasted Oriya cuisine. Should give it a shot. Thanks for the post.

    BTW I have given a link to your blog from mine. Hope it is fine with you.

  16. Lovely entry Sra. Very nice presentation. Viji

  17. Srivalli, do try it!
    Dee, thanks!
    Bharathy, thanks!
    SeeC, thanks for the link.
    Viji, thank you.

  18. Thats a pretty nice combo of dals and vegies sra... a great entry for RCI...we had planned on touring Orissa a cple of years back but the plans fizzled out... you sure are lucky:)

  19. Have heard about Dalam from D's friends wife who is Oriya. sadly have not had it yet, she is long distance away.
    Your Dalma looks great, should make it some time

  20. Wow Sra, you have been to Orissa... I am sooo totally ignorant of the cuisine and you are right, never seen an Oriya cookbook... :(... It is a modest state indeed... thanks for this wonderful post...

  21. Thats a lovely entry, Sra-and a wonderful write up too! I am waiting for your other varieties :).

  22. excellent combo of dhalls! hope to cook up something soon! NICE entry SRA!

  23. Priyanka, hope you get another chance to go there! It's quite interesting.
    Sandeepa, I'm going to post another variety later, take your pick!
    Sig, thanks, what a coincidence, I just came back after taking a ride in your car!
    Musical, many thanks. I can't wait to try the other variety and see if it matches the memory of the hotel dalma!
    Roopa, thank you!

  24. The dish looks very appetising indeed.

  25. ..... and I hope to learn a few more things about the cuisine from this event! :)

  26. I think I am going to love this dalma. My major decision is whether to have it with rice and achar or roti :)

  27. Nice recipe and looks wholesome. I haven't started my research yet!!!

  28. How very interesting. Delicious!


  29. aw i love yur write up, you make me want to visit orrisa, and i know so little about orriya food and culture.... tell us more na in detail....what a lovely recipe too... thank u sra

  30. Sunita, thank you.
    Coffee, hope I can 'teach' you more!
    Cynthia, this became more mashed than it should, think it's meant to be eaten with rice - achar will be on the side, I guess, but I ate it with the dalma!
    Raaga, waiting to see what you'll come up with
    Paz, thanks.
    Hi Rachna, welcome, will do!

  31. I just know nothing of oriya cuisine.. I have to google and check abt it..
    This recipe looks very nice and nutritious with dals and vegetables.nice entry.

  32. That one is delicious.
    Some how, from the Oriyan recipes I have seen on the web, the dishes look so simple and resemble homemade food than the pompous restaurant styled cuisine.

  33. I've never heard of Oriya, but then, there's sooooo much of Indian cuisine I'm mystified by and fascinated with. Thanks, Sra, for putting another interesting dish on our tables. The combo of pumpkin and sweet potato is a nice boost of carotene and potassium to an already healthy recipe.

  34. Thank you Prema, I know about it because I had two Oriya friends.
    Suma, that's such a nice thing to say, thank you.
    Susan, "bursting with health", right?