Chhadakhai: When Odisha Celebrates Non-Vegetarian Food

If there is a single festival when people of Odisha shower their love on meat, it is none other than Chhadakhai. This festival marks the end of holy Kartik month and beginning of a massive winter culinary feast. Chhadakhai is on 9th November this year and the people not just in Odisha but Odia people all over the globe eagerly wait for this festival. 

Chhadakhai roughly translates to eating something that one has not been eating for a while. During the last five days of Kartik month also known as panchuka, many people give up eating non-vegetarian food including fish that has remained close to the hearts of Odia people since ages. After wearing a deserted look for last five days, the market springs into life and people throng to buy the meat they were waiting to have. If some legends are to be believed, Chhadakhai is a day when most people return to their usual diet after a month-long ritual. While some return to eating onions, garlic and other ingredients that were not allowed in the holy month, a majority of people return to their favourite meat.

Some historians and food experts also believe that this festival marks the beginning of Winter season.  It is believed that around mid-November, the sailors, fishermen and traders get ready to set sail when the wind changes. Earlier, the traders and sailors were given a farewell with a big non-vegetarian feast in the coastal areas of Odisha. Incidentally, the day fell around the time when the meat was better, and the fish would move towards the coast. That period today is marked by Chhadakhai. Interesting, isn't it?

Now there isn't a particular dish that one must have to celebrate this much-loved festival. People usually make their favourite meat dishes. From Mangsha Jhola to Machha Bhaja, Chingudi Besara to Mudhi Ghanta, the list of Odisha special meat dishes is very long. So, here is the list of some of the top picked meat dishes that people cook and eat on this special day. 

Mangsha Jhola

Mangsha Jhola is an Odia style mutton curry that has many takers. It may look like a generic mutton    curry to you, but it tastes a lot of different because of its ingredients and preparation method. This mutton curry has semi-thick gravy with potato pieces in it. Ever tried it?

Mudhi Ghanta

Yet another popular non vegetarian dish in Odisha is mudhi ghanta. This popular dish has fish   cooked in green vegetables and chana dal. People of Odisha has a special love for fish thanks to it being the coastal eastern state. Fondly known as fish head chickpea curry, this delight is a common delight at wedding functions. There are many fish dishes in Odisha but this one is the most special.

                             Image credits: Mudhi Ghanta/Youtube

Chingudi Besara

Don't call yourself a prawn lover if you haven't tasted this prawn curry. This Odia style prawn curry     is cooked in mustard gravy and tastes best when cooked with shell. Shell imparts a great flavour to the curry and the fun of removing shell with hands while eating is next level. 

Kankada Jhola

Kankada Jhola is Odia style famous crab curry that has quite many fans. As we told you, people in Odisha can't say no to sea food. Nobody can when there are so many scrumptious dishes like Kankada Jhola.  Made with a blend of spices, this dish goes well with piping hot rice. If you are in Odisha this Chhadakhai, don't miss to have this crab curry.

So, are you going to celebrate this meaty festival? Do let us know.