While the diversity of Indian cuisines is often discussed, there are still certain lesser-known dishes that are waiting to be explored. The rustic fare of Odisha is one of them. A mélange of different flavours and dishes, the cuisine is replete with both temple food and coastal-style bites, thanks to their vast influences. However, since rice is the staple grain, it is commonly eaten for breakfast too.

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Poha is a kind of flattened rice that is usually found on the breakfast tables of many North Indian households, particularly in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Taking inspiration from the same and making use of this kind of rice, a delicious and healthy Chuda Santula is prepared in Odia homes too. The method of making this kind of poha is quite different from the one found elsewhere.

What makes Chuda Santula so unique, you ask? Chuda refers to flattened rice while santula is a term used for steamed vegetables in the native language. Combined together, they form a super light and healthy breakfast item. The highlight of the dish is the kind of rice that is used to make it. Acharmati rice, an indigenous variety that is usually found in the autumn season in Odisha, goes into the making of Chuda Santula.

This short-grained rice has a distinct fragrance that lingers on much after it is cooked into a dish. What adds more flavour to the breakfast meal are the vegetables like carrots and ginger. During the cooking process, the vegetables are chopped and steamed in water without any oil. Once they get mushy and soft, they are added to the rice. The same rice that is used for making this humble breakfast dish is also utilised for other rice-based items like pulao and khichdi.

Not just for breakfast, Chuda Santula is often packed for school lunches too, as it is quick and easy to make. The hassle-free dish is spruced up in other forms too in Odia cuisine. There’s something called Chuda Ghasa which is considered to be a prasad in temples. Cooked in ghee, along with coconut and jaggery, the rich and dry prasad is served during Ganesh Chaturthi and Saraswati Puja in the region. Another popular variation is the Chuda Kadali Chakata wherein bananas, paneer and jaggery are tossed together with the rice to give it flavour and taste.