Fostering Bonds Through Street Food Culture In Bhubaneswar’s Silicon Valley

Debadurllav Harichandan

Bhubaneswar: As the clock strikes 5.30 in the evening, the eateries and food trucks in Infocity area of Bhubaneswar get  swarmed by techies and students for a bite from a host of food items that stand out from those served at normal joints.

Keeping the demographic profile of the young mass in Infocity in view, these eateries serve delicacies from other states and regions of the country. With the area in norther part of the city housing educational institutions and IT companies with a fair sprinkle of youths from outside Odisha, they have a wide option of street food on their platter for breakfast and tiffin.

Prashant Parida from Jagathsinghpur, who runs his ‘Dabeli’ (a Gujrati snack) stall with the help of two boys, is one of the favourite food carts in the Infocity square for the young crowd in the evening. Prashant, who had a long 10 years of working experience in top hotels and bars of Mumbai, returned to Bhubaneswar with the hope that his experimentation with north-Indian dishes would create ripples and he has succeeded so far.

‘Aloo Tikki’, ‘Dahi Bhalle’, ‘Dabali Paav’, all priced in Rs 20-40 range in Prashant’s food stall, have been attracting people from nearby Cuttack as well. KIIT Boarders and IT workers who flock Prashant’s stall say it has the best ‘Dabeli’ in entire Bhubaneswar.

Similarly, ‘Chicken Shawarma’, which has become a recent hit among college students, is lapped up every evening as soon as the food trucks line up. The Lebanese dish which is rolled up in thin bread with spicy chicken crumbles in addition to sauces is a daily eating ritual for KIIT final year engineering student Tarun Acharya.

Pravanjan Behera and his elder brother, who have been serving ‘Chicken Shawarma’ from their food truck for the last three years, sell around 30-40 chicken rolls every day. “The business has been good for us except during lockdown,” said Pravanjan.

Unlike other states, which have instantly taken to non-resident street food culture, Odisha is still moving at a snail’s pace to embrace it. Odia people, who are used to a pretty long array of dishes which rarely found elsewhere, are slowly opening their taste buds for non-Odia junkies.

It is believed that food represents a strong cultural identity. Hopefully, exchange of delicacies across border would foster an extravagant relationship among people with a treasure of excellent food memories.

Debadurllav Harichandan

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