Bhubaneswar/Delhi: As a food destination, Odisha remains underrated and its cuisine absolutely elusive. The recent past, however, has seen a rise in Odia food fests in Delhi.
People of Delhi and NCR region were treated to street food of Cuttack, Berhampur and western Odisha, during Odisha Parba organised on the lawns of India Gate, last month.
The Utkala Dibasa celebrations also saw numerous events, showcasing Odisha culture and food. Courtyard by Virasat too hosted guests and treated them to authentic Odia cuisines. “This place promotes regional food and what’s better day than April 1 for a sumptuous Odia spread. Sujata Dehury played chef for the day, bringing out the flavours of Odisha,” said Rajan Bedi, owner of Courtyard by Virasat, which is a boutique platform for regional Indian cuisine started last winter.
The menu included butta dali pakudi and masala macha bhaja in starters, khaasi mansha jholo, dahi chingudi and macha besara in the main course, besides dalma and janhi alu posta, and chennapoda for dessert.
The table was neatly laid for the guests, who enjoyed every bite. “It was Sujata’s passion for food, which is why I suggested that she wears the chef’s hood for this feast. People in Delhi can’t think beyond butter chicken masala and chicken tikka, and we want to introduce them to a variety of delicious dishes from all over India,” said Bedi.
What the guests enjoyed the most was the distinct flavour of each cuisine. “For the mutton item, she neither used tomatoes nor curd and people could easily feel the taste of the meat in the curry. The foreigners found it well-spiced and well-balanced,” he said.
Sujata, who is active on social media with her page Easy Gourmet, is only too happy with the response. “There is a growing interest among Delhiites to try regional Indian cuisine and I couldn’t have waited for a better time. People not only enjoyed the non-veg and veg spread but also wanted to know more about our food,” she said.
“We can’t popularise Odia cuisines with just one pop-up. It has to be a concerted effort. I am planning another feast on Jagannath food,” Bedi added.
Costume designer Barnali Rath is the other Odia, who has been promoting food of her native land, in the Capital of India. She often hosts parties at home and foreign lands, treating people to Odia delicacies.
“It all started when I found no place in Delhi, where I could find authentic Odia food. I started cooking myself and it soon turned into a passion for me. My husband, Nila Madhab Panda, is attached to his roots and food, which added to my experiments with different cuisines,” she said.
Her filmmaker husband’s friends gorge on the food she prepares with great love and care. “I treat them to the distinct taste of Odia food with tomato chutney and dahi baigana,” she said.
She hosted a few parties at home and two in London, making people appreciate the cuisines of Jagannath land.
Not just Barnali and Sujata, many young Odia girls have started blogs on Odia food and promoting them on different platforms, taking it beyond pakhala and rasagola.
Odisha Hotel, which opened in Delhi last year, has been getting good reviews from non-Odia people. Odia Food Festival is being organised again at Press Club of India this month. Nuakhai turns into mega annual event, drawing people eager to try the western Odisha cuisines.