Top 10 Odia Sweet Dishes for Every Occasion

Have you come across anyone saying “no” to sweets? Honestly, I haven’t seen any. Okay let’s say you have seen such people. Then let me tell you that he or she must be a diabetic. 🙂 😛

I am going to take you on a culinary trip in Odisha where you will only discover unique, delicious sweet dishes to tantalize your taste buds. Don’t believe me? Okay, then check out the following dishes. Try these out – I’m sure you are going to miss them next time you have them somewhere else.

Poda Pitha:

Photo Credit - Odisha News Insight
Poda Pitha. Credit – Odisha News Insight

I bet your taste buds are deprived of the delicious flavor of Poda Pitha unless you were invited to an Odia house. Why I’m saying so because only Odia families can do this magic. Poda Pitha is a unique sweet dish prepared during Raja Festival.

Ingredients used for Poda Pitha are rice, black gram, baking powder, ghee, cashew nuts, scraped coconut and     sugar or jiggery.

Manda Pitha:

Photo Credit - Youtube
Manda Pitha. Photo Credit – Youtube

Odias celebrate more festivals than there are days in a year. Yes, I’m not joking at all. You visit Odisha and be lucky to get an invitation for a lunch or dinner at an Odia residence. It will not be surprising to find a wide variety of dishes served in your plate. You never know you might get a chance to spoil your taste buds with Manda Pitha. It is prepared at each and everyone’s home during the festive seasons of Durga Puja, Gamha Purnima and Kumar Purnima.

Ingredients used for Manda Pitha are suji, scraped coconut, sugar, ghee, cardamom and salt (if required for better taste).

Chhena Poda:

Photo Credit - Odisha News Insight
Photo Credit – Odisha News Insight

To try this, you don’t have to wait for any festivals. The most popular and most loved Odia sweet dish is Chhena Poda. The cheese desert is widely available in restaurants.

Ingredients used for Chhena Poda are cheese, cardamom powder, semolina, milk, ghee, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins.

Kakara Pitha:

Kakara Pitha
Photo Credit – Odia Kitchen

You know how donuts taste? But you don’t know how scrumptious Kakara is. Don’t trust me? Then have it. Kakara or Kakara Pitha is a sweet deep-fried cake mainly offered to Lord Ganesh. Ladoo is another sweet item our much loved Elephant-faced God love.

Ingredients used for Kakara are semolina, cheese, scraped or shredded coconut, sugar, etc.

Kheer or Kheere:

Kheer
Photo Credit – Very Good Recipes

I guess you have tried it already. However, do try it once when you visit east. Much attention is given to prepare rice kheer. It gives you the real taste when flavored with almonds, raisins, cashew nuts, saffron and cardamom. Kheer is literally for all occasions. It is served after a hearty meal. Besides that there is huge demand of Kheer before some important work. Have Kheer before starting a great work. It certainly falls in right place.

Ingredients used for Kheer are basmati rice, organic milk, green cardamom, golden raisins, kaju, saffron and sugar (according to taste).

Rasagola:

rasgulla brown
Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Yes. I have had Rasagolas in places like Delhi and Bengaluru, but I was not very much impressed. Everyone knows Rasagola is a famous Bengali sweet dish. I admit. But I also admit that you get it better in Odisha. There’s been a battle between Odisha and West Bengal over rasagola invention. July 30th is celebrated as Rasagola Day or Rasagola Dibasa in the state. (“Rasagolas made in Odisha are softer and creamish than Bengali rasgullas” – as stated in Wikipedia).

Ingredients used for Rasagolas are milk, sugar, suji, cardamom powder, etc.

Rasabali:

Kendrapara Rasabali
Photo Credit – Travellian

You have not probably heard this name. Famous sweet dish from my native place. Yes, I brag off it. Cheese is the main ingredient of Rasabali, which originated to be served as Bhog to Baladevjew Temple of Kendrapara.

Ingredients used for Rasabali are baking soda, cheese, saffron, maida, sugar and milk.

Malpua:

Malpua
Photo Credit – Orissapds

Mainly prepared during Pausa Sankranti, Malpua is one of the mouthwatering sweet dishes served as snacks at many Odia homes. Malpua is a prominent food for the Almighty, Lord Jagannath, in the morning and evening.

Ingredients for Malpua are semolina, baking powder, maida flour, sugar (to make sugar syrup), fennel and ghee or oil.

Rabdi:

Rabdi
Photo Credit – Veg Recipes of India

Rabdi or rabri is a delicious Indian sweet dish. This is a different thing that Rabri was not derived from Odisha, but you got to taste its flavor. Various spices, sugar, nuts, salt, zeera, etc. are added to give it the best flavor.

Ingredients used for Rabdi are milk, sugar, cardamom, cardamom powder, saffron strands, rose water, pistachios and almonds.

Ghee Pitha or Arisa Pitha:

Ghee Pitha
Photo Credit – Shibani Kitchen

Another Odisha special. As the name suggests, this particular unique sweet item is made up of pure ghee. Have a bite of Ghee Pitha and you are surely going to remember this for a long time. If I remember correct, I’ve mostly eaten this during marriage ceremonies. Ghee Pithas, otherwise known as Arisa Pitha, are prepared and sent to the groom’s house from the bride’s home as gift. Obviously, there are other items too.

Ingredients used for Ghee Pitha are ghee, flour, sugar or jiggery, salt and sugar syrup.

If you want to prepare them at home, you can do that. But I would rather ask you to try them first so that you know what they taste like. Next time you travel to Odisha, try them out at an Odia house.

Puri, Konark & Chandrabhaga – Part 2

Day starts with an incredible sight of sunrise. It is believed that Chandrabhaga is the first point on earth where the sun spreads its magical rays. This was probably the reason we were at Chandrabhaga. It is just 3 kilometers from the Sun Temple.

Not so calm atmosphere, Chandrabhaga was already occupied with hundreds of us. After 15/20 minutes wait, a yellowish red ball of fire sprung up on the horizon of an unending sea. I’m short of words to describe the majestic beauty of the sun, turning up so elegantly, so mesmerizingly. It looked to be very happy and smiling saying everything would be great as long as I’m here to take care of you.

Sunrise
Absolute beauty

Rolled up my jeans, trod gently on the pristine sand hand-in-hand and let the cold water caress my feet, cleaning sand underneath my soles.

Mostly in dilapidated state, the 13th century Sun Temple is surely a work of marvel. The awe-inspiring architectural grandeur of the Sun Temple made me admire those wonderful artisans who created such a world class spectacle. The UNESCO World Heritage site looks like a giant chariot with sumptuously designed stone pillars, walls and wheels. Looking at the erotic images engraved on the structure one would agree that these are no less than the impressive sculptures of Khajuraho. What add more beauty to the structure are the rambling gardens. They are attractively scattered, giving ample space to individuals to relax and unwind and couples to rekindle romance.

Sun Temple

Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath

One of the greatest events in 2015 is Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. Also known as Nabakalebar Rath Yatra, the festival is likely to attract more than 10 lakhs devotees around the world, who will be immerged in the chant of ‘Jay Jagannath Swamy’.

Lord Jagannath

What is Nabakalebara?

Nabakalebara is an ancient ritual of replacing the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra with new set of wooden image idols. This periodical renewal or replacement of gods takes place in most Jagannath Temples around the world in every 12 – 19 years. This time, it is going to happen in 2015, after 19 years – 1996. The festival is really a special one for all Jagannath devotees.

Best Time of Nabakalebara:

According to Hindu calendar, a year that has two months of Ashadha is ideal for celebrating this much awaited event. This usually occurs every 12 to 19 years and 2015 is the best time for this celebration. Lord Jagannath Himself comes in the dream of the main priest of the temple and gives him hints about of the located of the sacred Neem Trees or Margo Trees, from which the idols of deities are made up. The idols will be made up from no ordinary need trees unless they are mentioned by the Almighty. The trees are otherwise known as “Daru Bramha”. Each deity will be made up from different Daru.

To have the best glimpse of this festive carnival, head out to Puri. A splendid holiday destination, Puri will surely mesmerize you not only with its world famous Jagannath Temple, but also with its miles of stunning sandy beaches. Book a hotel or a holiday rental in advance to enjoy a hassle free vacation with family.

Puri – Abode of Lord Jagannath

Positioned right on the Bay of Bengal, Puri, also known as Purusottam Kshetra, is one of the most popular tourist hotspots for locals and foreigners alike. The bustling city, the pristine beach, an array of local shops and restaurants and the grandiose Jagannath Temple make this Hindu sacred place a must visit destination.

From the Puri bus stand, we took a rickshaw that ran through the main market – the Bada Danda. It was not very crowded in the morning; this helped us moved faster. We reached the main gate east-facing. It is called the Lion’s Gate or Singhaduara. Removing the shoes and not carrying things (except wallet) is to be strictly followed before the entrance to the temple. There were shoe-stands either side of the gate. We surrendered our belongings, washed our feet and bowed our heads in front of Aruna Stambha – a massive pillar soaring up to 10 meters high. It is positioned right in front of the Lion’s Gate.

Policemen and policewomen were deployed to check the devotees before entering into the temple. We got checked by them and moved ahead to find ourselves on a flight of steps – ‘Baisi Pahacha’ or twenty two steps. Devotees were sitting around; some were even making their kids roll over the steps from top to bottom seeking spiritual bliss of Lord Jagannath. I wish I had a camera to capture such unique sights.

We were immediately dragged by a Panda who was very determined to do a ‘puja’ and forced us to buy a “puja thali”. I was quite acquainted with the activities of Puri Pandas. So, I told Sunita not to pay any attention to him. But, she was a staunch believer in this stuff. This made me buy a puja thali cost Rs 110/-. We along with the Panda entered into the main temple. It is the abode of three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.

Oh My God!!! What a rush! The small premise was incredibly overcrowded that even an ant could not find space to settle down. I was little worried about Sunita whether she would make it not. Because she had met with an accident in December. However, we managed to get a close look of three deities. For that we were asked to pay Rs 100/-.

By this time I had become dry fish due to the extreme heat of sun. But, Sunita was enjoying and completely involved. She gestured me the Laxmi Temple. I immediately nodded. And we made our way to the entrance. Again, the same problem! I had to pay another Rs 100/- to the Panda. Observing us very polite and quiet, the Panda tried to deceive us through a fake image of Maa Lakshmi (at Rs 1,000/-) saying it would bring wealth and property. I was keeping an eye on Sunita and became happy to see her denying paying anything.

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The Lion’s Gate
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Temple Entrance & the Aruna Stambha

Before we made an exit, Sunita rushed to Anand Bazaar to buy ‘bhog and prasad’. She also had a glass of ‘tanka torani’, the tastiest drink ever. As soon as we came out of the temple, I insisted to be at the beach. This was what I wanted.

If you have to see Odisha’s most crowded and spoilt beach, it should definitely be Puri Beach. The main beach was pretty crowded. People in large number were splashing water and soaking in the sun. The thunder sound of roaring waves makes the atmosphere electrifying. It won’t be wrong to say that Puri Beach is the only party destination in Odisha. Along the beach promenade there are a wide range of hotels and resorts, shops, stores and outside dining spots. The scrumptious ‘dahibara’, ‘aloo-dum’, ‘aloo-chaat’, ‘bara-maja’ and ‘pudi-sabji’ were enough for our lunch. We then visited the sand art by the award winning sand artist, Sudarshan Pattnaik.

To avoid the scorching heat, we grabbed a safe place right on the beach, under a beach umbrella. This reminded me of my old days. We caught hold of our old memories – just 2/3 years ago we used to come here to spend quality time.

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Some Beachcombers Relaxing on the Golden Sand
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A Refreshing Bath in the Sea!

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sand art
Sand Art of Lord Jagannath by Indian Sand Artist Sudarshan Patnaik

It was then 2 p.m. – time to come back and meet friends at Bhubaneswar. The short trip was very interesting, but I wished to spend more time exploring the architectural grandeur, moderate climate, historic antiquities and many more. Well, I was bit disappointed for not taking a bath in the sea. I must tell you that the water here remains calm and is considered as the best for swimming.

‘Pentha Beach’ – An Unknown Name

Without giving a second thought, we headed to explore the most unexplored tourist destination in Odisha. We had to cover almost 10 kilometers from Rajnagar to reach the village, Pentha. There was no limitation to my excitement as I had never been to such a fantastic place – being staying so close. As our car inched further, I could see a sand barricade standing high up to 15 ft. At first, I had no clue about this giant barricade – mixture of sand and soil I guess. I couldn’t hold my curiosity and ran up to see what the barricade had been hiding. “Oh My God, it’s unbelievable.” The views my eyes captured were incredible. “How could I miss such a beauty of nature right next to my home for so long?”

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Tranquil Sea Meeting the Blue Sky on the Horizon
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Quite Secluded a Place, except a Dog and a Couple
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Peace is Restored
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Trying to Get a Perfect Location to Have a Perfect Pic

The “Pentha Beach” is a perfect combination of sun, sand and sea. Mangroves and pine trees create the scenery pretty mesmerizing and charming. The roaring waves hitting the shore of Bay of Bengal will remind you the prominent beaches of Puri and Gopalpur. We could not resist ourselves from taking pictures on the backdrop of awe-inspiring infinite water and golden sandy beach. There was no one except immaculate beach, crystal clear water, the tress and the beautiful red crabs.

Did you know red crabs can run so fast? I could not believe my eyes when I discovered that crabs can run so swiftly. We tried to get hold of some of them, but in vain. Only the driver could manage to catch a few. Every time I attempted to catch them, they dug up the sand and managed to escape. The beauty of the place was so intriguing that at one time, I thought to shift in there. Leaving the place and coming back to our own place was very tough. We ended the trip on a high note when my nephew showed signal to attend the call of nature right on the beach. I did not want to say good-bye, but we had to return.

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It’s Beautiful!
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Ladies Having Fun
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Here’s Gajini. He’s only 3 years old
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The red crab – finally, we got one

The short trip was pretty thrilling for me and my family. Everybody loved the beach, its tranquility and serenity. The beach is undoubtedly a must visit for all beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. Nothing can deprive the Pentha Beach from being listed amongst the top beaches of Odisha. Away from frenzy crowd, the Pentha Beach is a superb place yet to be explored fully.

But, I was little disappointed to find no hotels close to the hotspot. Perhaps, this could be the reason why visitors are not turning up in huge numbers. OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) should take appropriate steps and make the district of Kendrapara worth visit.

Address: Pentha Beach,
Village: Pentha, P.S: Rajnagar, Dist: Kendrapa, State: Odisha.

Rajnagar: 10 km
Kendrapara: 45 km

Bhubaneswar – 150 kilometers.

 

Visiting MAA Matia Mangala Temple, Rajnagar

On a bright Tuesday morning my wife expressed her desire to visit the temple of ‘Maa Matia Mangala, 15 kilometers from my house’. The temple is very famous in our area that encompasses more than 100 villages. It is located in the village of Baranga, Rajnagar, Kendrapara, Odisha. After a little discussion, my father called up a cab driver and around 11 am, we were all set out for the place.

Our group comprised 6 members, including my mother, sister, her son, my sister-in-law, my wife and, of course, me. Though I am not a temple goer, it was pretty excited for me to see a new place, at least. I only knew it was a temple close to the river of Brahmani and I would have some amazing pictures.

There was no problem till we reached Madanpur as the Madanpur-Pattamundai road has newly been constructed. It wouldn’t be wrong to compare the road to the national highways. It was wide enough and there was ample space for bikers, cars, trucks and buses to go smoothly. The road was not great after Madanpur College. Single narrow road with vehicles from both ends – a terrible journey! Finally, we arrived at our destination safely after crossing the Rajnagar Bridge, some villages and crowded markets. From Rajnagar, Baranga is just 7 km away. The journey took us almost an hour.

I was actually expecting more crowd as I heard such stuff from people earlier. Well, it was not that less either. After alighted from the car, I discovered that my mother had come barefooted. It was not because she is a great devotee of Maa Matia Mangala, rather she had forgotten to wear it. Quite strange, isn’t it?

Surrounded the Brahmani River, agricultural field, lush landscape and several shops selling ‘puja samagri’, the temple has a mesmerizing location. The driver parked the car under a tree and waited for us. I was strictly instructed by Sunita, my wife, to do ‘pranama’ and have some respect. (Trust me, I am a staunch believer of God. I just don’t believe in idol worship or visiting temples.) We did a small puja, took the ‘prasad’ and headed to the river. The journey became more interesting as my nephew was doing funny stuff. They were quite hilarious.

WOW!!! It just came out my mouth as we inched a further to the river. Truly amazing view, quite serenity and astonishing. Got some pictures and had some fun! I was teasing my nephew and in return, he responded well with some funny acts every time.

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From left to right – Me, Sunita, my mother, my sister & my nephew
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With my sister-in-law, mother & sister in the stunning backdrop
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Teasing Sunita
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Fun with Gajini

By 12.30 p.m. our appetite increased and it was intolerable for us to stand without food in our stomach. We made up our mind and returned. My eyes were looking for a hotel. At Rajnagar, the driver recommended a vegetarian hotel. We grabbed 7 seats and ordered full meals. The guy who took the order served 6 meals thinking my nephew can’t have a full meal. I insisted on serving another meal and he did it hesitantly. To his surprise, Gajini (my nephew) finished his meal effortlessly and sought for more food. The moment was very comical.

No, no, no…I’m not finished yet. The second part of the day led us to another hotspot, ‘Pentha’ – a spot for all beach lovers.