Bhubaneswar: Food is the universal thing that has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, people around the world, enjoy every morsel served with love.
Odias across the globe are known for their passion for cooking and sharing the dishes too. Sujata Dehury of Odisha’s Sundargarh too cultivated this passion in her growing up years and despite staying away from the family her interest in Odia food only grew stronger.
Delhi and now Ahmedabad, Sujata has been winning the hearts of North Indian with her Odia platter.
A journalist by profession and home chef by passion, she has had the opportunity to serve Odisha’s delicacies at the Odia food pop up at The Green House of The House of MG, a heritage hotel in Ahmedabad.
Talking about the planning and the excitement that went into deciding the dishes Sujata says, “curating a vegetarian thali in Gujarat could be challenging. Because what is sattvik for Odias may not be so for Jains, an influential community in this part of India. Many don’t eat root vegetables and I was also advised against making mushroom and jackfruit dishes. So, no ‘Chhatu Rai’ or ‘Panasa Katha Bhaja’.”
So, in came heritage dishes from the temple repertoire of Odisha. The lesser-known Ekabarni Khechudi’, ‘Ramarochak Tarkari’, ‘Nadia Pachedi’, ‘Ghaanta’, ‘Rasabali’ and so on, she adds.
A thali that represents our ‘Na Tiana Chha Bhaja’ idea came to reality with a lot of careful thinking, says Sujata who also manages a Facebook Page to promote Odia food.
The Odia thali was very well-planned and had a wide range of healthy dishes.
Assorted Pakudi platter with Odisha style Dhania Chutney, a ‘Tamarind-Garlic’ dip and ‘Ghuguni’
Janta Ruti (super soft rotis made from a pre-cooked dough and mildly sweet, flavoured with saunf, brushed with cow ghee
Saru Chakuli or dosa
Ramarochak Tarkari, temple style eggplant-potato curry with fried moong vadas
Misamisi saaga, winter special greens cooked with vegetables and garnished with fried vadi crumbles
Kanji aka Ambila, wintery soupy vegetable dish
Chhatu Besara, Mushrooms cooked in mustard gravy with sun-dried mango kernel
Bhaja, Assorted vegetable tawa fries
Pachedi, a yoghurt based coconut relish
Badi Chura, a deep-fried Odisha style Badi (vadi), spiced with onion, chopped garlic, ginger, green chillies, spiked with a hint of raw mustard oil and a squeeze of lemon juice
Chalha, Odisha style flavoured buttermilk
Mishtarna, melt-in-mouth Rasagola
Sujata says she chose Ekabarni Khechudi keeping the Gujaratis taste buds in mind. “The people here prefer flavoured rice over the plain one and this temple-style Odia khechudi received an awesome response,” she says.
“I was overwhelmed by the response to khechudi, Dahibara-Aludum, tomato-khajuri khata and even the simplest of dishes like alu-chhuin bhaja and bandhakobi bara. In fact, a group of young Odia professionals paid money worth 20 plates of dahibara aludum in Odisha to have one platter in Gujarat. They were beaming and were my first guests,” said Sujata.
The event ‘Weekend With A Home Chef’ is curated by noted food critic and author Anil Mulchandani and hosted by heritage hospitality stalwart Abhay Mangaldas of the House of MG fame.
About the idea behind curating such a unique event, Anil said “After COVID, a number of restaurants were looking to bounce back. On the other hand, the lockdown turned people to cooking and many with a passion for it turned home chefs. Some turned home chefs out of the love for their regional cuisine while for some it was a means of earning after job losses. To bridge this gap and connect the food-inspired people, we came up with this weekend with the home-chef event.”
Before the pandemic, we had the opportunity to taste the food prepared by Sujata and when we came up with this idea, she was our choice. “We were sure of her culinary skills,” adds Anil.
To this Sujata says “When Anil Mulchandani Sir offered me an invitation in his characteristically unassuming way, I had no way to escape.”
The event began in October and every weekend they host a region-specific cuisine at the heritage hotel. This week its ‘Surti thali’ by Reetika Gadi Jalan, a CA by profession.