The Traditional sweet dishes of Odisha
We start of with the sweet dishes, as we Odia’s do have a very pronounced sweet tooth. The specialty of the Odia sweet dishes are that the main ingredient is usually the home made cottage cheese and the sweet dishes don’t satiate your tongue.
Khaja – Offered to Lord Jagannath as one of the Chappan Bhog’s (Fifty Six Offerings) and is very popular amongst of devotees who visit the Lord at Puri. Khaja – is basically refined flour mixed with sugar and made into a dough garnished with just a little bit of cardamom and gently fried in oil.
Khaja is also stuffed with various things like grounded coconut and jaggery amongst other things. But the plain Khaja available at Puri just takes the cake. After all you cannot fault Lord Jagannath’s taste.
Rasogulla – Pahalo the village credited with the invention of the popular sweet Rasogulla (made out of Indian Cottage Cheese and Dough) on mass scale. As per the Madala Paanji an old chronicle of Jagannath temple and Dandi Ramayana – an adaptation of Valmiki’s Ramayan in Odia- there is a mention of the sweet Kheera Mohan- which is offered as Prasad to goddess Laxmi by Lord Jagannath to appease her after he comes back from his nine day Rath Yatra- the ritual is called Bachanika and his part of the ritual Niladri Vije.
Pahalo a village between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar had many cows. People used to throw the surplus milk everyday. Seeing this, a priest from Jagannath temple taught the villagers the art of curdling and making Kheera Mohana. Till this day while going to Bhubaneswar from Cuttack along the National Highway- once can see lines of shops of Pahalo selling the famed Rasogulla along with Chhena Podo ( Burnt Indian Cottage Cheese) and Chenna Gaja ( Indian Cottage cheese with a hard sweet coating).
Rasogulla is made from cottage cheese which rolled into round balls and lightly fried in sugar syrup.
Chhena Jhili – Originated in Nimapada, a town near Puri, this sweet dish made from cottage cheese which is fired and caramalised with sugar syrup and cooled. Though as a popular sweet dish its available all across the state, but Nimapada does stand head and shoulders above everyone because of the taste and quality. The best part of the delectable Chhena Jhili from Nimapada is that , the sugar content is not that high that one’s mouth gets satiated. So for the sweet loving insatiable’s this is the go to dish. Nimapada is 41 KM.
Rasabali – Owes its origin to Baldev Jeu temple of Kendrapada. The most striking aspect of the temple is that Lord Balabhadra is the main deity of the temple, though Goddess Subhadra and Lord Jagannath are also worshipped. Probably Lord Balabhadra expressed a desire to have an offering which is different from the offerings made to Lord Jagannath- hence this enticing sweet dish.
Rasabali is made from cottage cheese which is flattened and deep fried into reddish brown cheese cakes. Then they are soaked in milk which is thickened and sweetened and garnished with sliced dry fruits.
Chhena Podo – Literally meaning burnt cheese, Chhena Podo is believed to have originated around the 12th Century in the Nayagarh district of Odisha. Chhena Podo is made by mixing cottage cheese with semolina and kneading it into a dough, cardamom is added for flavour and then the dough is baked in a container coated with caramalised sugar. It is one of the most popular sweet dishes of Odisha and available through out the state.
Chhena Gaja– One of the popular sweet dishes throughout the state. The ingredients required for the preparation of this enticing sweet dish is the same as that of Rasgulla or Chhena Podo but the treatment is different. Cottage cheese is mixed with semolina and kneaded thoroughly.The dough is then put in a cloth and squeezed so that the water is drained from the dough. The dough is left to dry briefly to get the consistency and moulded into oval shaped pieces and boiled and deep fried.
Khiri– One of the favourite sweet dishes in every household. Khiri is milk mixed with sugar or jaggery and thickened and mixed with either rice or vermicelli and boiled. Its used as offerings to gods or functions and festivals and even forms a part of everyday household meal.
Rabidi – Rabidi is like khiri minus the rice or vermicelli. In rabidi the milk is thickened further and the consistency is thicker and it tastes sweeter.