Dussehra 2022: 5 Sweets To Try In Cuttack During Dugra Puja

When it is about the Durga Puja celebration in Odisha, the first name that pops up is Cuttack. This used to be the former capital and the second largest city in the state. People from different parts of Odisha and even the neighbouring state flock here in huge numbers during this festival. Cuttack's Durga puja is famous for the extravagant and luxurious 'medha', the backdrop of the idols. Most of them are made of pure silver, gold or gold coated, and the cost runs into crores. Also famous as the Millennium City and the Silver City because of its over 1000 years old history and intricate silver filigree creations, Cuttack also impresses one with its rich spread of traditional decadent sweets. These sweetmeats, in a way, keep the old-world charm of this ancient place. Many shops serving these delicacies run for generations, and often they sans any fancy set-up.

As you visit this city and meander through its narrow lanes, busy circles, and old-fashioned roads, stop by a few shops to taste its five iconic sweets in the most authentic manner. 

Chenna Poda

The Nayagarh district of Odisha is believed to be where Chenna Poda is originally from. This traditional dessert is prepared with chenna or cottage cheese and dried fruits. Then it is dunked in sugar syrup till it absorbs the sweetness. It looks quite appealing because of its lovely golden-brown hue. Because of its shape, Odia people typically regard this as a cake and serve it by slicing it. Locals vote for Biswanath Sweets to try Chenna Poda and rasagulla. 

Chenna Gaja

Chenna gaja, Image Source: Twitter

Semolina and chenna combined with sugar syrup prepare Chenna Gaja, another indigenous sweet of the state. The result is a light pink hue, which is hard to resist. Smolina gives it a distinct texture from other desserts. Compared to many other sweets, this one isn't soft. Shaped in rectangular pieces, they ooze syrup and aromatic flavours. Personally, I like the Chenna Gaja in Bhagaban Sahu Sweets & Snacks. One can try Rasa Bali and Kheera Gaja too. 

Kakara Pitha

These are prepared using suji or semolina and hot water to make a dough. While a few add jaggery, others prefer sugar. Tiny balls are taken out of the dough, spread out, and filled with coconut stuffing. It's either deep-fried or steam-cooked. During the Durga Puja, it is offered to the goddess as one of the pithas. Do ask for Mitha and Pitha to try this. In this shop, you will get an array of other dumplings, such as poda pitha, monda pitha, and enduri pitha. 

Chenna Jhili

Chenna jhili, Image Source: wikipedia

An iconic dessert from Odishan cuisine is chenna jhili. Nimapada in the Puri district is where it was born. Aarta Sahoo from the Nimapara village of Shyam Sundarpur was the person who first began making this dessert. Fresh chenna is kneaded thoroughly to make a soft dough and semolina are added as a binding factor. It the carefully rolled into small 'U' shape pieces, with both the top ends joined. These pieces are deep fried till they develop a golden hue and then dunked in sugar syrup. Once they swell up absorbing the syrup, they are either served warm or cold.

Meetha Dahi

Meetha dahi, Image Source: rumkisgoldenspoon.com

Yes, it may sound like a Bengali dessert aka Mishti Doi, but Odisha also has its share of meetha dahi or sweet yoghurt. There are several sweet stalls in Cuttack preparing it; they often serve in clay bowls or pots. A few variants have a light hue, while the others have a brownish tinge because of caramelised sugar or jaggery. One of the city's best places to taste it is Calcutta Sweets. 

Hope you will try at least a few of them!