With Chefs nowadays willing to experiment a lot more than earlier, the many other regional cuisines of India are now getting their due. I’ve always been an exponent of the richness of Odia cuisine and extolled of it’s many nuances. But sadly the Odia food was always relegated within the borders.
You’d find Odia chefs all over India in literally every kitchen, yet they’d be cooking everything else other than their own food. For a cuisine which has been always compared and termed similar to Bengali, it’s great to see chefs finally it’s due.
And I must say Chef Amit Dash has done one fabulous job. It isn’t just the regular dishes which were already known like the Pakhala and Chenna Poda which made it to the buffet but also the ones from Western and Southern Odisha too. He has done his research by bringing in such richness of food heritage to a food festival.
I was very happy to see the Pakhala Live Counter. I was pleasantly surprised when there was a comment that it’s a poor man’s food. The Pakhala is a meal in itself, a one bowl meal of sorts. Much like the Ramens, Thukpas and the likes, the Pakhala packs itself in a single bowl. The accompaniments do a great job to enhance the taste but aren’t specifically necessary. That’s the beauty of the fermented rice dish.
The other dish which completely stunned me at the buffet was Mudi Mangsho, a typical wedding/tribal dish from Balasore. In originality the puffed rice is tossed over with fresh produce and mutton kassa of sorts to make a beautiful and enticing dish. It’s like Jhalmudi (Bhelpuri) had a non-vegetarian cousin.
The main course paid homage to the rich non-vegetarian heritage of the state while also showcasing it’s temple food. Many of Odia food have their origins from the numerous temples which dot the state. The Jaganath Temple, Puri has been instrumental in changing the desserts in India. The Dalma was there and so was the Kanika. But my happiness was unmatched when it comes to the Chilika Crabs.
My grandmom was born in and around Chilika, so whenever we had relatives visiting. There would be a huge basket of fresh crabs which came alongside them. Chilika Crabs for me literally define the term ‘Foodgasm’. And Chef Amit Dash cooked it perfectly. Happy was I breaking away at the claws and mixing along the runny gravy with plain white rice.
Does the Odia Food Festival at Feast, Sheraton do a great job at showcasing the food of Odisha? It’ll be a resounding Yes from my end. With Chef Amit Dash at the helm it couldn’t have been any better. And also did I mention the dessert section is just huge.
The Odia Food Festival is part of the buffet at Feast, Sheraton Hyderabad.