7 Traditional Sweet Delicacies From Odisha
Image Credit: Khaja | Image Credit: Istock.com

Located on the eastern coast of India, Odisha is a land steeped in cultural heritage and natural beauty. It is adorned with lush greenery, pristine beaches, and majestic mountains, making it a place for tourists from across the world. Beyond being renowned for its vibrant festivals, intricate temples, and traditional arts and crafts, Odisha is known for its sweet delicacies.  

The traditional sweets in Odisha hold profound significance and are not only delectable sweets but also act as embodiments of heritage, community, and festivity. These sweets are deeply intertwined with the state's rich history and religious traditions, often being prepared and shared during festivals, rituals, and special occasions. For instance, the state is highly influenced by Jagannath Puri Temple, where Lord Jagannath is offered Khaja as a prasad. Through generations, the art of making these sweets has been passed down, preserving age-old recipes and techniques that connect people to their roots. From Chena poda to khaja, the traditional sweets have shaped the religious and cultural heritage of the state.  

Here are some traditional sweets of Odisha. Take a look. 

  • Chhena Poda 

Chhena poda literally translating to ‘roasted cheese’ in Odia showcases the versatility of chena. It is crafted from fresh chhena, sugar, and cardamom, intricately blended to create a luscious batter. The mixture is then caramelized to perfection, often in a traditional clay oven. Until it forms a caramelised crust, imparting unique flavour and texture. The outer layers achieve a delightful golden-brown hue with a soft and aromatic interior.  

  • Rasabali  

Rasabali holds a significant position among the traditional sweets of Odisha. This rich dessert features deep-fried patties of chhena, soaked in sweetened, thickened milk flavoured with aromatic spices such as cardamom and saffron. The chhena patties are golden and crisp on the outside and soft and succulent on the inside. It is often garnished with chopped nuts like almonds and pistachios.  

  • Chhena Gaja  

This delicacy combines the richness of chhena with the crispness of the golden-brown exterior. Here chhena which is the primary ingredient, is kneaded with sugar and shaped into rectangular or diamond-shaped pieces. These pieces are then deep-fried to achieve a golden-brown colour, rendering them crispy on the outside while maintaining a soft and creamy texture within. After frying, the chhena is dipped in fragrant sugar syrup that results in the melt-in-the-mouth experience.   

  • Pitha  

Pitha is a rice delicacy that are an integral part of Odia cuisine, especially during festivals and special occasions. Pithas come in various forms, each with its unique flavours, textures, and cooking methods. There are a variety of pitha namely Enduri Pitha which are steamed rice cakes filled with a sweet coconut and jaggery mixture, Kakara Pitha, which are deep-fried sweet dumplings and Manda Pitha,  steamed or fried rice flour dumplings filled with a sweet mixture of coconut and jaggery.  

  • Chhena Jhili  

Chhena jhili are known for their indulgent taste, and soft and spongy texture. It is made from fresh chhena, where a dough is made which is shaped into elongated oval or cylindrical pieces and then deep-fried to golden perfection. Once fried, these jhili are then soaked in a fragrant sugar syrup infused with cardamom. The result is the melt-in-the-mouth experience offering a balance of softness and slight crispness, complemented by the rich creaminess of the chhena.  

  • Malpua  

Malpua is popular all across the country but the Odia one is slightly different. This delectable treat consists of deep-fried pancakes that are made from the batter of flour, milk, mashed bananas, or coconut, and sugar, yielding a soft yet crispy delicacy. Once fried to golden perfection, the malpuas are then soaked in a fragrant sugar syrup infused with aromatic spices like cardamom, cloves, and sometimes saffron. It is served warm and garnished with chopped nuts, raisins, or grated coconut.  

  • Khaja  

Offered as a prasad to Lord Jagannath, khaja holds religious importance and is renowned for its delicate layers of crispiness. The delicacy is crafted from the flavourful combination of maida, ghee, sugar, and sometimes cardamom. The dough is kneaded to perfection, rolled thin, layered, and then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. Once fried, the Khaja is immersed in a fragrant sugar syrup, infusing it with sweetness and moisture while maintaining its distinct crunchiness. What sets Odisha’s khaja apart is the blend of crispness and tenderness that provides a melt-in-the-mouth experience.