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Odia Food has been a seldom explored cuisine. Even though Odia cooks have been the most sought after in many kitchens throughout India, they have never ventured into cooking their own state-food. Odia Food is rich in flavors and has mostly never left the state’s borders.

It is in this context that the Odia Bhoji food festival holds special importance. Aish at The Park, Hyderabad is conducting the Odia Bhoji and given a special platform for a little known cuisine. Having heard of Chef Mandaar’s penchant for creativity and Chef Bibu, I knew I was going to have a good meal ahead.We started off with the most famous street food of Odisha, the Dahibara Aloodum and Piaji Ghuguni.

Odia Bhoji

Now the denizens of Cuttack take their Dahibara Aloodum real serious and me kind off fall a little into that category. The Dahibara Aloodum served at the food festival blew me away. It was the right proportion of spicy and delicious. The aloodum was a standout topped on the soft dahibara. The Piaji was served exactly the way it’s made in Odisha. The Odia prefer their snacks in small, tiny pieces and the piaji was made the exact same way.

Ghuguni Piaji

Moving on to the Maccha Bhaja and Mangsa Chop, I only knew the wave of nostalgia flooding over me. Next up was the Kanji which is a yogurt and rice soup bursting with loads of garlic. Pakhala is in itself a huge meal in itself. It’s fermented rice served with loads of accompaniments on the side. Each household makes it’s own version of ingredients to go with the Pakhala. The odia style of mashed potatoes, Aloo Bharta, Chingudi Checcha (smashed prawns), Sajana Chuin Aloo Bhaja (drumsticks and Potatoes fry) and Badi Chura completed the presentation of the Pakhala.

Presentation Of Pakhala

Maccha Bhaja & Mangsa Chop

Coming to the mains is where the bhoji (feast) literally starts. The Odias prefer a lot of khattas (sour chutneys) with their food and here in the food festival that was displayed proudly. From the Ambula Rai (chutney of dry mangoes and coconut), Khajuri Khatta (date chutney with tomatoes) and Oou Khatta (Elephant Apple chutney). Among the mains on that day was the Maccha Tarkari (Fish Curry) and Mangsa Kassa (Mutton kassa).

Main Courses (2)

Besara is another beautiful preparation in Odia households making use of mustard. Now the besara can be made using lots of ingredients from vegetarian to non-vegetarian variants. The Besara served at Aish was on the lines of the food served in temples. Odisha takes great pride in it’s temple food where culture has played a great part in reshaping the cuisine of the state. Hence many dishes at the Odia Bhoji had temple food like the Mandira Dali, Chenna Tarkari, Kanika and Pheni.

Main Courses (1)

Among the desserts were Odisha’s famous Rasgollas and Chenna Poda. Lots of sweets in the state are made pre-dominantly using chenna (cheese). The Rasabali comes from the town of Kendrapara and also had been made by Chef Bibhu as part of the festival.

Odia Desserts

The Odia Bhoji is one of those unique food festivals which delves into the authenticity of a lesser explored cuisine. The Odia Bhoji is on till the 19th September 2016 at Aish, The Park.

Thanks to Swati for the invite and bringing Odia food to Hyderabad.

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For a city where every resident, from all walks of life thrive on one dish and can have it for all breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is difficult to argue as to where do you get the best Dahibara Aloodum. Every resident has his/her own personal favorite. It might be the one in his street, the street where his/her crush lives, right outside the school/college they’re studying at or maybe 15 kms away so that he can make the ride simply to enjoy a dish of awesomeness.

Dahibara

Cuttack is one hell of a labyrinth for the people who aren’t accustomed to it’s lanes. If you are a newbie around and have pushed your car into one of those narrow lanes, chances are you would have already caused a roadblock with every one trying to cut through or giving you the hand signal to help you drive through the narrow roads. But the bonding of every Cuttackian has happened over a plate of Dahibara Aloodum. The love for it encompasses any other food item they would have ever had and they might just be born with the gene to already love it by default.

Spicy Aloodum

So what is it about this simple dish that has a 1000-year old city crazy about it and licking their fingers? The bara’s are soaked and left in Dahi so that all the marinating seeps into the bara’s making it a lot softer and flavorful. And add to it the Aloo Dum and Guguni piping hot with the garnishing of sev, pudina and coriander and you have got one hell of a dish licking your fingers.

Kanika Chaaka Dahibara

The numerous Dahibarawalas can be found in plenty of spots in the 52 streets, 53 lanes city. Driving to houses in cycles, setting up stalls under trees and parking their lot outside of popular places, it’d be hard not finding one every 100 metres away.

The most famous ones:

  1. Raghu Dahibara – In Bidanasi, this guy has been around for so long that people even travel from other cities all the way to have his yet. He doesn’t believe in the concept of spoons, so better be licking the spiciness off your fingers and then asking for a sweet peda to douse that spiciness off your tongue
  2. Kanika Chaaka Petrol Pump: Has since shifted base to a shop adjacent instead of opposite and you can follow the crowd to his stall
  3. Deula Sahi: One of the few places where the mitha Dahibara is as good as the savory one. Personal favorite and swear by the guguni
  4. Ishuwar and Other ones outside Barabati Stadium: Used to be good and still attract the crowds though have lost some of the sheen in my opinion

The Various Stalls Outside Barabati Stadium

So after having some of the lip-smacking Dahibara Aloodum in the city, don’t forget to ask to fill up on some of the dahi to drink up, that’s your mocktail alongside and a handful of sev to go about then after.

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