Home Chef Sujata Curates Temple Food Of Odisha In Ahmedabad For Rath Yatra

Ahmedabad/Bhubaneswar: “Bringing temple cuisine of my home state Odisha to the fine dining space was a long-standing desire and this Rath Yatra I did it. Challenging, satisfying and humbling! So much to learn from centuries-old food traditions! It is not just a mini culture trip, it also emphasises how important local, indigenous food is,” said home chef from Odisha Sujata Dehury.

Currently based in Ahmedabad, she teamed up with Double Tree By Hilton and curated a temple food platter with 21 items on the occasion of Rath Yatra. The event was held on July 12 and 13.

Speaking to Odisha Bytes, Sujata said she was surprised to see the craze for Lord Jagannath among Gujaratis when she moved to Ahmedabad a few years back. “Rath Yatra was a grand affair here. But it had a Gujarati touch to it,” she added.

It was then that she wished to introduce the rich Mahaprasad, the offering to Lord Jagannath, to Ahmedabad. And she had since then been waiting for the right opportunity to showcase the rich flavour of temple cuisines.

A journalist by profession and home chef by passion, Sujata started with an Odia food pop up at The Green House of The House of MG, a heritage hotel in the city in February this year. “My wish to present the Rath Yatra thali came true when an agency contacted me after getting to know about this festival. It had also tracked me on social media and learnt about my interest in food,” she said.

Sujata, however, had just seven days to prepare for the big festival. “Initially, I had trouble getting the right ingredients and fresh vegetables, turmeric leaves for preparing the pithas,” she said.

A vegetable vendor from Odisha, who is popular as Das babu, came to her rescue. “He got me fresh leafy vegetables, parval of my required dimensions and also the turmeric leaves,” she said.

Sujata said that it was a challenge to get the flavour distinct to Odia food in a far off place. “Some of the preparations were very complex and I had prepared a checklist for every dish,” she said, adding that she experimented with a few ingredients in some of the dishes while sticking to the traditional preparation for the others.

The extensive platter included three types of anna, meetha dali, three types of curries, four types of khata, four types of pithas and two types of drinks. Nadia bara, pithou bhaja, and 4 types of khata made from fruits were the highlights.

“Odisha Tourism also chipped with dry sweets like khaja, gaja and magaja ladoo to add authenticity to the food festival,” she said.

The response was heartwarming and heightened the desire in her to popularise Odia food wherever she goes.

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