When you ask a foreigner (white people mostly) what Indian food they like, 99.99% of the time, the answer you get is butter chicken. Which is fine, butter chicken’s pretty fucking good.
But we all know it ain’t the only delicious dish this country has to offer.
Even in the country itself, people love the butter chicken and the likes of it. Sometimes, if they feel like fish, they will try some Maharashtrian cuisine or if they know a little better, they will go down further south.
Pork is associated with the North East and beef is, well, Mallus own that shit. I am not gonna even debate that. Them
beef erachi (LOL) fries be amazing.
What then remains is East India and since I am from Odisha, I am gonna include our cuisine, which often gets hidden under the massive shadow of the Bengali cuisine.
Ya’ll think we care about the Rasgulla? Come on, the sweets that are eaten in this part of the country, most of you have never even heard of.
I mean, there’s so much variety, that people living in one part of a state won’t even know about what the other side of the state eats.
FYI, Bengali cuisine and Odia cuisine are practically same with very minor differences that one would only know about if they are from the place.
Speaking from personal experience, if I had a dollar for every time someone mistook an Odia fish curry for a Bengali Kalia, I wouldn’t have to write this article.
From the melt-in-your-mouth pithas to the crunchy badi, this cuisine has so many snacks that you could throw a stone and hit something you would love eating either stoned, drunk or sober, on a rainy day with tea or a hot day with some coconut water.
Yeah, we got coconut trees too. It ain’t just the South, god damn it!
Oh, and every second person you see can cook some mean food BTW. Mostly, because us Odias are pretty good at jugaad. Give us something edible and we can find a way to season it, repackage it and sell it for profit.
Look, if you’re an Odia and you are hoping to see some Bengali bashing, that ain’t gonna happen.
I would give a limb to eat some delicate Paturi, a piece of fish or prawns if you like, marinated with mustard and chillies, wrapped in banana leaves and set to steam slowly over hours, which is something that is not so uncommon in Odisha, especially in towns like Puri.
See, we have some serious number of rivers and a massive coastline. So the amount of fish we eat is quite something.
You ever hear that stereotype about Bengali people loving fish? Yeah, that applies to us too, bro. We just happen to have so many freaking options.
Especially for someone like me, who has spent a lot of years in Puri, stuff like Ilish maach and Bagada prawn were regulars on the lunch menu, if you knew the right places to eat.
Also, our chicken and mutton curries are to die for, okay? And since our staple food is rice and not rotis or parathas, our curries are lighter and so have more flavours. We call them jhol, BTW. And none of it looks remotely orange!
Our food’s healthy. Go to any authentic place that serves these cuisines and you’ll find that the food you’re served seems homecooked. That’s because it’s the only way to cook it, which makes it incredibly healthy.
Also, it would be an injustice, if an Odia person talking about food doesn’t mention Pakhala and the other reservoir of food accompanying it. It’s the reason we all like sleeping during the afternoon.
So next time you are in Odisha, do go for the local cuisine. And don’t go about hopping restaurants. Naah, you want the food of this place, you gotta work a bit.
Try the street food, try the smaller hotels that serve a 5-dish lunch for 100 bucks. And how would you know how to spot them? Don’t worry. They will literally be called hotels!
These words aren’t even doing justice to the number of different kinds of food we have in Odisha. You just gotta try it for yourself, much like I want to right now!