Odisha is the land of Shri Jagannath. As per legend Shri Hari takes bath in Rameshwaram, has his Shringaar in Dwarka, takes food in Puri, and does sadhana in Badrinath. Hence, Odia cuisine is very much influenced by temple foods. The cuisine is soft on spices yet subtle in taste and flavors. But its street foods boast of spices and rich taste. They are just ‘bang’ on flavors. The street foods satisfy the palate of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian people. This post explores the vegetarian street foods in Odisha.
People outside the state are hardly aware of its rich spread of street food. The street foods of Odisha have not created a niche for themselves like the street food of Mumbai, Banaras, Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, or Indore. So, let’s have a look at the mouth-watering vegetarian street foods of Odisha
The state is primarily divided into four regions-coastal, northern, western and southern. Each region has its own regional cuisine with its own flavor and taste. The southern cuisine has an influence from the state of Andhra. Whereas northern cuisine has been impacted by its closeness to West Bengal.
Vegetarian Street Foods In Odisha
Dahi Bara Alu Dam
It is a variant of Dahi vada that originated from Cuttack. The dish is prepared by soaking Vadas (fried urad dal and rice flour balls) in buttermilk. The buttermilk is tempered with curry leaves, dry chilies, and mustard. Then a spicy AluDum (potato curry) and Ghuguni (pea curry) is added to it, topped with onion and Sev Bhujia.
Cuttack is synonymous with the dish and has plenty of vendors selling it across the city. The dish and its variations have now penetrated to most parts of the state. The legend who made the dish a household name is Raghu, who took this dish to New Delhi during one of the coveted Odisha Parab and bagged the first prize. Then there was no looking back.
The vendors start their business from 6 AM and go on till 10 PM. So, you can have it at any time of the day. The dish could be heavy for your stomach but it is not heavy on your pocket. If you want to taste the authentic Dahi vada Alu Dum, visit Raghu Dahi Bara, Bidanasi Cuttack. You have to wait patiently as there is a long queue even before the stall opens. He comes at 5 PM, closes his business by 6 PM. Another man is Ishwar who has done a variation in the taste to suit the palate of visitors and tourists.
This is another common street food you can find throughout the state. The dish is samosa served with potato peas curry locally called Ghugni, or simple potato curry. The difference between Samosa and Singra lies in the stuffing. Here, the Samosa or Singra is stuffed with cut potatoes instead of mashed potatoes, which is used in the rest of the country. To make the stuffing yummier, it is topped with peanuts and bits of coconut.
Alu Chop/Piazi/Other Fritters
Fritters or Pakoda are very common street food, which is found throughout the state, any time of the day. Aluchop is the common Aloo Bonda of the north where mashed potato along with green peas, peanut, and bits of coconut coated with a layer of besan mixed with rice flour and water, then deep-fried. The besan coat is comparatively thinner than Aloo Bonda. Similarly, other veggies like onion, brinjal, cabbage, sliced potato, Bhavnagri chilies are coated with the abovesaid batter and deep-fried.
The choice of vegetables varies according to season, customer preference, and popularity of the snack. In north Odisha, brinjal is mostly preferred and goes by the name Beguni whereas cabbage Pakoda is common in Berhampur in South Odisha. Most of these fritters are served with Ghugni or simple potato curry. In some places, they are served only with a sprinkle of black salt and a slice of onion. Piazi is another common savory popular in the state. It is like the chana dal vada where chana dal paste is mixed with chopped onions and other spices and deep-fried.
The south Indian Medu Vada is another common street food in Odisha in a local avatar. The vada is made from urad dal batter and varies in size. It is served along with Ghugni or potato curry or Dalma (another popular dish of Odisha made with Arhar or Chana dal and vegetables)
This is served throughout the state. The accompaniment is either Ghugni, curry, or Dalma. In the southern parts like Berhampur and Koraput, Upma and chutney are served along with Puri Tarkari.
Golgappe or Pani puri is known here as Gupchup in Odisha. The round hollow puri is stuffed with mashed potatoes, boiled chana, onions, and other spices. The water is tangy and does not contain any salted Boondi. You can find lots of street carts selling Gupchup almost in every small or big town. The uniqueness of the dish lies in its stuffing and tanginess of the water.
The traditional Odia chaat comprises a shallow fried potato patty topped served along with Ghugni and topped with chopped onions, carrot, beetroot, curd, Sev Bhujia, and crushed Papdi. The uniqueness of the dish lies in the blending of its spices. Other chaat variations like Papdi chaat, Dahi puri are also available with the vendors.
This is extremely popular street food in Western Odisha. Prepared with a batter of rice and urad dal in 80:20 proportion, these are deep-fried small Pakoda sized fritters. They are served with Mirchi chutney (chutney made from chili) or with a curry.
This is a dish from Northern Odisha where pieces of boiled potatoes are mixed with curd, various chutneys, chopped onion, and chilies. They are served in leaf bowls called Dona or Thola.
Mudhi Alu Dam
Mudhi or puffed rice forms an important part of Northern Odisha cuisine. It is mixed with Alu Dam and served along with fritters like Alu chop. The mixture is a little wet due to the gravy from Alu Dam.
This can be said to be a close cousin of Jhaal Mudhi. The Mudhi or puffed rice is mixed with boiled potatoes, boiled pea or chickpea, chilies, onions, peanuts and drizzled with mustard oil. The mixture is dry unlike Mudhi Alu Dam, which is a wet preparation due to the gravy of the curry.
Beaten, roasted and flattened chickpea called Chanachur is mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes and chilies are common street food. This is available mostly in the market areas and sea beaches. In Cuttack apart from Chanachur, vendors also sell Sev Bhujia and chana dal mixture mixed with chopped veggies and spices.
A common breakfast item, Idli, is mostly in the Southern part of Odisha due to its proximity to Andhra Pradesh. Idli is eaten with sambar and chutney in the South Indian tiffin centers. But in other places like roadside vendors, it is accompanied by Ghugni and is one of the popular breakfast items.
Chakuli Pitha or dosa is an important part of Odia cuisine as Pitha forms an essential element in many Odia festivals and pujas. Like Idli, it is also eaten with Ghugni in most of the roadside stalls.
This is a seasonal delicacy, prepared during Balijatra in Cuttack. Balijatra is an open trade fair held in the month of Nov-Dec. This is the largest trade fair of Asia, celebrated as a mark of respect for the ancient maritime traders of the state. This is a very big-sized Puri, bigger than Bhatura. It is always eaten with Chhena Tarkari. Soft paneer balls are cooked into a simple curry along with potatoes.
Sweets/Desserts – Vegetarian Street Foods In Odisha
Made with Chhena, this popular sweet has its origin in this state. The Chhena balls are cooked in sugar syrup. Another caramelized version called Khiramohan is also popular. It is found throughout the state. Two famous places to savor this delicacy are Bikalananda Kar in Salepur, near Cuttack, and Pahala on the NH between Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar.
This sweet is synonymous with Odisha and is its identity. The dish literally means burnt Chhena. It was discovered accidentally when some Chhena was left overnight in the tandoor or Chulha as it is called here.
Chhena is mixed with Rava and sugar, packed inside a banana or sal leaf, and roasted inside an oven or a tandoor. Chhena Poda originated in the Nayagarh district. This is available across the state except in the southern part, where it is not available on a mass scale. Chhena Poda of Puri and Nayagarh town are the best.
This is a famous sweet of Kendrapada district. Chhena balls are deep-fried and dipped in thick milk. This is found in all sweet shops in the coastal part of the state.
Nimapara on Bhubaneswar Konark highway boasts of the best Jhili in the state. Chhena balls are deep-fried and dipped in sugar solution. This is a melt-in-the-mouth sweet dish.
It is similar to Rasogolla, prepared with Chhena and suji, molded into a palm-sized rectangular shape, and then boiled in sugar syrup. The Chhena and suji dough is dried before molding by squeezing out any moisture. While boiling, it is heavily boiled so that the sugar crystallizes on the Gaja.
Chhena or cottage cheese is combined with rabadi or thickened milk and sold by vendors in the various important streets of major cities.
Khaja is an important sweet that is offered in temples as prasad. It is made from flour, ghee, and sugar syrup. Shops near Jagannath Temple in Puri sell the best Khaja.
Cubes of Chhena are coated with sugar syrup. Bhadrak is famous for this sweet but nowadays it is available across the state.
Beverages – Vegetarian Street Foods In Odisha
Most sought-after drink during the sultry summer months. Similar to normal Lassi available in the other parts of the country, but the difference is in the preparation. Curd is churned and then mixed with sugar syrup, topped with Rabri, Kaju, and coconut. Though many outlets serve it, Lingaraj Lassi in Bhubaneshwar serves the best.
Bael Pawna / Bael Sherbet
Bael sherbet is available during the summer season. Pulp of Bael is mixed with water, black pepper, and gud/jaggery or sugar to prepare this popular summer drink. During Odia New Year, on the first day of Baisakh month, Bela Pawna is prepared in which the Bael pulp is mixed with milk, banana, honey or jaggery, black pepper, and Chhana, then topped with cashew and coconut. This Sherbet/Pawna is an excellent coolant during the hot summer months.
These are the common Vegetarian Street Foods In Odisha, mostly available throughout the year. They vary in presentation, flavor, and taste as per the local influence. But all the street foods are lip-smacking, delicious, and not too heavy on the pocket. So, whenever you visit the state, enjoy its street foods along with its rich heritage and culture. Happy snacking…..
A post by Shruti Mishra under Inditales Internship Program.
Shruti Mishra is a professional banker. She loves to travel and explore the rich heritage of different places and enjoy their local cuisine. A book lover, she also likes to cook a warm meal for the family. Currently lives in Bangalore. Has dreams to extensively explore this beautiful country completely and write a book on the roads less traveled.