Flavours Of Fire: Eat Right To Survive The Odisha Summer

Satyanarayan Mohapatra

Odisha’s summer scorches the earth, making your skin burn and your energy wilt. Yet, eating wisely can be your shield against this fiery season. Let’s craft a food strategy to nourish yourself and beat the lethargy that comes with such relentless heat.

Hydration remains your greatest ally. Water is essential, but take it a step further. Coconut water, nature’s own energy drink, will replenish your electrolytes and bring back that spark to your eyes. Homemade ‘nimbu pani’ (lemonade), slightly sweetened and salted, is another refreshing way to keep dehydration at bay. Think of these drinks as essential accessories, not just accompaniments to a meal.

Rediscover the bounty of your local market. Melons of every kind – cantaloupes with their sweet flesh, muskmelons with their heady fragrance – will refresh your palate and quench your thirst. Bite into mangoes, their juice a sweet reward on a scorching afternoon. Snack on tender cucumbers and crisp green peppers, their cool textures a respite from the relentless sun.

Explore the wisdom of Odia kitchens. ‘Pakhala’, the quintessential summer staple, offers more than just sustenance. The probiotics in the fermented rice aid digestion, keeping you feeling light. Add mashed potatoes, a fried fish, leafy greens… build your pakhala bowl with the seasonal offerings for a burst of flavour.

Embrace the power of ‘dahi’ – plain yogurt – an incredible heat combatant. Mix in a little roasted cumin powder, chopped mint, and a pinch of black salt for a savoury treat that soothes your system.

Transform salads into vibrant meals. Sprouts – crunchy, packed with nutrients – come alive with a simple dressing of lemon juice and green chilies. Experiment with raw fruit salads – chopped papaya, watermelon, a hint of black pepper… an explosion of sweet, sour, and spicy that tantalises your tastebuds.

Remember, large meals are your enemy when the mercury soars. Eat small, frequent portions throughout the day to keep your energy levels stable. As evening falls and the air carries a hint of a breeze, a light fish curry becomes a perfect option. Focus on simple, fresh flavours – a squeeze of lime, crushed garlic, a few whole spices. Enjoy the subtle aromas as they waft through your kitchen – a reminder that even in this heat, good food still brings comfort.

This summer, consider food your ally in the fight against the blistering temperature. Choose hydrating, cooling ingredients, embrace the traditions of your ancestors, and let your inner chef come out to play with the abundance the season offers.

Satyanarayan Mohapatra

Nutritionist & Food Safety Consultant

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