Chefs Madhusmita Soren & Saipriya Share Odisha's 7 Salty Dishes
Image Credit: Mo Pitha

India has 28 states and 8 Union Territories, each with a regional cuisine that allows foodies to embark on gastronomic journeys. One such cuisine is Odia cuisine belonging to Odisha. Compared to many regional foods, this one flaunts dishes with minimal use of oil and spices. If you are a devotee of Lord Vishnu, you must be aware of Puri, a revered temple town in India which is currently in headline due to Rath Yatra, an annual Chariot Festival.

The city is a testament to the delights that regional cuisine has to offer. The 56 Bhoga comprising several Odia dishes is offered to Lord Jagannath during this festival and distributed among pilgrims. Whether you are visiting the state to participate in the festival or explore its picturesque spot, you should not miss out on trying the local food.

Video Credit: Soma's Kitchen/ YouTube

Slurrp spoke to Chef Madhusmita Soren, a MasterChef India participant in season 8 and an expert in the Tribal cuisine of Odisha and Saipriya, food researcher and blogger from Bhubaneswar, to bring you the best savoury dishes from Odia cuisine.

“An Odia vegetarian Thali is always light on your stomach and includes all the seasonal produce. Rice is the staple food for this region. There are a lot of rice-based ‘Pithas’ which are important during the festivals and rituals, ” said Chef Saipriya.

Kadali Manja Rai

Kadali manja rai is a thick yellow curry made from mustard paste and banana stems. Chef Madhusmita Soren shared that manja means stem which can also be used in dalma, another Odia delight. The tender core part of the stem is cooked and threads are removed to achieve the right texture. It is healthy and an amazing choice for vegans and vegetarians to pick and pair with rice. 


Both chefs suggested gastronomes to try dalma, which is a popular lentil preparation in Odisha. It includes cooked grains with a lot of vegetables, hence, considered healthy and nutritious. Chef Madhusmita Soren added, “It is generally made from toor dal and contains chopped vegetables like plantain, green papaya, pumpkin, gourd, etc.” Elevating its flavour are the spices like mustard seeds, turmeric powder, and panch phutana (Odia’s mixture of five spices).

Image Credit: Chef Madhusmita Soren/ Instagram

Pakhala Bhata (Bhat)

Chef Soren believes that pakhala bhata is one Odia dish that celebrates the simplicity of the regional cuisine. It is prepared by fermenting the cooked rice overnight with curd, lemon water, or green mangoes so that it absorbs the tangy flavour. This dish is widely consumed during summer and monsoon because it has a cooling effect on the body and is considered good for digestion. 


In Odisha, you will find a variety of pithas, both savoury and sweet. This dish is a part of temple food which you can relish during lunch hours in the common canteen of Puri’s Jagannath Temple. While Chef Sai suggested temple food as a must-have if you are visiting Puri, Chef Madhusmita shared different kinds of pithas you can relish. Poda pitha, kakara pitha, enduro pitha, gainthaa pitha, chitau pitha, gajaa pitha, etc. are worth trying, especially if you have a diverse palate craving to taste new notes.

Dahi Vada Aloo Dum Or Aloo Potala Rasa

If you are a fan of aloo or potatoes, Odia cuisine has two perfect dishes that will leave you in gastronomic heaven. Chef Saipriya mentioned dahi vada (dahi bara) dum aloo. You need to prepare dahi vada, using lentils and potatoes, and make curd-based chaat. Next, you prepare dum aloo by simply cooking diced potatoes in onion-tomato gravy. Combine the two dishes and finish it off with chopped onions, tomatoes, sev, cucumber, and chaat masala. Chef Madhusmita Soren’s suggestion is alu (or aloo) potala rasa, a gravy-based delight prepared by cooking potatoes and pointed gourds together. You can enjoy it with rice, roti, or paratha.

Image Credit: Chef Saipriya


Chef Madhusmita Soren shared a regional dish called ghuguni. It is prepared by soaking peas and potatoes overnight with moulds of horse gram powder. The next day, this dish is cooked. It is a thick curry-based delicacy that is served with deep-fried vadi or bara made with lentils. If you are travelling across Odisha, you will find restaurants in Cuttack and Puri serving this street food delight.

Chhatu Rai

Chef Soren’s suggestion to vegetarians is to try chhatu rai, a dish made from mushrooms and mustard. It is a must-have for non-vegetarians as well if you like the flavour and texture of mushrooms. The spicy notes of curry married with steamed rice and ghee roti make a comforting meat for dinner or lunch.