Orissa -- Mitha Khechudi & Mitha Dali
Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 21
Dish: Mitha Khechudi & Mitha Dali (Sweet Khichdi with Sweet Dal)
Today we are going to Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, located in the east coast of India. Orissa shares a border with Andhra Pradesh, but I never had a chance to visit it. My dad went there for work years ago and brought back a souvenir from Konark Sun Temple. I've seen his pictures at Puri Jagannath temple and Bhubaneshwar. That's the most I knew about Orissa.
Odisha has culinary tradition spanning centuries. I was really surprised to read that rasgulla actually originated from Odisha, I always thought it was from Bengal. Also Kheer or rice pudding, that is relished all over India, also originated in Puri 2000 years ago.
Oriya cuisine is rich and varied and relies heavily on local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and lightly spiced, unlike the fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Only 6% of the population of Odisha is vegetarian. Oriyas are very fond of sweets and no Oriya meal is complete without the dessert course at the end.
Specialties: Dali, Dalma, Khechedi, Mittha Dali, Pakhala, Chena Poda, Dahi Bara, Kalakand etc.
Today's Dish(es): After reading about the Oriya cuisine, I initially planned on making a dessert. But after making quite a few desserts for the marathon, I decided against it. I wanted to make something simple, yet traditional and authentic to Orissa. So after a lot of searching, I found this Oriya blog, Turmeric Kitchen, by Jagruthi. She has a ton of traditional dishes and I picked two that were simple and easy to make.
First is a sweet rice dish that is a spiced up version of good old khichdi. I didn't add too much sugar to make it too sweet, but the sweetness can be adjusted as per personal preference.
Recipe adapated from Turmeric Kitchen:
- Rinse rice and dal; soak them together for 20 minutes.
- Heat 2tsp ghee/ oil in a pressure cooker; add the bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pod and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute or until the spices are fragrant. Add the cashews and raisins and cook till lightly brown.
- Drain the water from the rice and dal and add it to the cooker. Mix well and cook for 2~3 minutes, stirring constantly, until very lightly browned.
- Add the warm water, sugar, salt, turmeric powder, ground nutmeg; cover with the lid and cook for 2 whistles.
- Note: This dish can be made without the cooker as well, just cook in a heavy bottomed pan covered for about 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Second dish is an slightly sweet lentil based dish that is cooked with an aromatic spice paste. This dish is one of the "Chhappan Bhoga (56 offerings)' that is offered to Lord Jagannath as Mahaprasad in Puri. Jagruthi says that this rustic dish pairs well with Mitha Khechudi.
For the Spice Paste:
- Make the Spice paste: Combine all the ingredients for the spice paste along with the hot water and set aside for 5~10 minutes. Grind to a coarse paste adding more water if required.
- Soak dals for 20~30 minutes. Pressure cook the dals along with 3 cups of water for just one whistle.
- Add the spice paste, turmeric, salt, jaggery and grated ginger to the dal. Mix well and cook for one more whistle. Dals should be cooked and tender, but not mushy. If there's water left, then cook it over medium flame.