Macha Besara To Dalma: Top 8 Dishes Of Odisha's Cuisine
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Despite its rich and diverse culinary offerings, Odisha's cuisine remains relatively less known on a global scale due to a combination of factors. Limited exposure in mainstream media and tourism promotion has contributed to its underrepresentation. Additionally, the state's cuisine has not undergone widespread commercialization compared to some other Indian cuisines, leading to a lack of recognition beyond its borders. While neighboring culinary traditions have gained more prominence, Odisha's distinct dishes, ingredients, and cooking techniques have yet to garner the same level of attention, resulting in its culinary culture remaining a hidden gem awaiting wider discovery.

The state is blessed with its unique and flavorful cuisine, characterized by the use of mustard oil, panch-phoron spice blend, and an array of indigenous ingredients. Rice is the staple food, and dishes like dalma (a lentil and vegetable stew) and pakhala (fermented rice with yoghurt) are integral to daily meals. Seafood holds a special place due to the coastal location, with preparations like Macha Besara (fish in mustard gravy) being favorites. Sweets like Rasagola and Chhena Poda reflect the region's expertise in dairy-based delicacies. The culinary heritage of Odisha reflects its cultural diversity, with influences from tribal, temple, and Mughal cuisines, making it a fascinating and delectable journey for food enthusiasts.

Macha Besara

Macha Besara is a traditional and beloved dish from the coastal state of Odisha, India. This flavorful seafood preparation showcases culinary expertise. The dish features fish, often the catch of the day, marinated with a mixture of ground mustard seeds, garlic, turmeric, and spices. The fish is then gently simmered in a mustard gravy that imparts a pungent and tangy flavor profile. The distinctive aroma and taste of mustard oil are integral to Macha Besara, contributing to its unique character. Often served with steamed rice, this dish represents the fusion of coastal ingredients and aromatic spices, making it a treasured part of Odisha's gastronomic culture.

Chhena Jhili

Chhena Jhili is a delectable sweet treat that hails from the culinary traditions of Odisha, India. Made from fresh chhena (paneer) dough, it is shaped into flattened pieces and deep-fried to crispy golden- brown perfection. Once fried, these delicate pieces are soaked in a fragrant sugar syrup, allowing them to absorb the sweetness while retaining a delightful crunch on the outside and a soft, succulent texture within. The interplay of textures and the balance between the slight sweetness and the richness of the chhena make Chhena Jhili a beloved dessert, often enjoyed during festivals and special occasions in Odisha.


Rasagola is a revered and iconic dessert. Crafted from kneading the delicate chhena (paneer) spheres. These soft and spongy balls are expertly prepared and then gently soaked in a fragrant sugar syrup. This intricate process results in a delightful treat that embodies a blend of sweetness and texture. While there has been historical debate about the origins of rasagola, with claims from both Odisha and West Bengal, it remains an integral part of Odia culture and cuisine. Celebrated during festivals and cherished by locals and visitors alike, Odisha's rasagola is a symbol of the state's rich gastronomic traditions and its ability to create culinary delights that resonate far and wide.

Aloo Dum

Aloo dum, a popular dish in Odisha's culinary repertoire, showcases the states skillful use of spices and flavors. This vegetarian delicacy features small potatoes cooked in a rich and aromatic gravy. The gravy, typically made from a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and red chilli, is enhanced by the addition of tomatoes, onions, and sometimes yoghurt, resulting in a balance of tanginess and spiciness. Aloo dum is often accompanied by traditional accompaniments like puffed rice or rice cakes known as pithas creating a delightful combination of textures and tastes that exemplify the diverse and savory offerings of Odisha's cuisine.


Dalma, a heartwarming dish deeply rooted in Odisha's culinary heritage, embodies the essence of comfort food. This traditional lentil and vegetable stew seamlessly combines the wholesome goodness of lentils with an array of locally sourced vegetables, creating a nourishing and flavorful one-pot meal. The dish is skillfully seasoned with the signature panch-phoron spice blend, lending a distinct aroma and taste.

Coconut is often added for a touch of richness, while the tempering of ghee or oil with aromatic spices elevates the dish's complexity. Dalma is more than just a dish; it is a cultural emblem that brings families and communities together, symbolizing the unity of ingredients, flavors, and traditions in Odia cuisine.


Pakhala, a culinary gem of Odisha, embodies both tradition and refreshment. This cooling dish takes centre stage in the state's cuisine, particularly during the scorching summer months. A simple yet cherished creation, pakhala involves soaking pre-cooked rice in water, allowing it to ferment slightly, and then serving it with an assortment of flavourful accompaniments.

The accompaniments range from fried fish, roasted vegetables, and pickles to curries, creating a symphony of tastes and textures. Beyond its culinary allure, Pakhala holds cultural significance, dating back to ancient times when farmers would consume it to beat the heat and replenish their energy. It's not just a dish; it's a tradition, a remedy for hot days, and a cultural testament to Odisha's enduring culinary identity.


Khaja, a delectable treat deeply rooted in Odisha's culinary traditions, is a testament to the state's mastery of creating intricate and irresistible sweets. Crafted from layers of thin, crispy dough made from refined flour, ghee, and sometimes milk, khaja is skillfully folded and fried to perfection. Once golden and crisp, it is delicately coated with a sugary syrup that infuses it with sweetness and a touch of moisture. Often enjoyed during festive occasions and celebrations, Khaja's intricate preparation and delightful taste showcase the artistry and attention to detail that characterize Odisha's rich culinary landscape.

Kheer Sagar

Kheer sagar, a velvety dessert originating from Odisha's culinary tapestry, is a delightful confluence of flavors and textures. Crafted from fresh chhena (paneer) balls that are immersed in a luxurious bath of thickened, sweetened milk, this dish offers a rich and indulgent experience. The chhena balls absorb the creamy sweetness of the milk, resulting in a melt-in-the-mouth sensation. Often garnished with chopped nuts, saffron strands, and aromatic cardamom, kheer sagar not only pleases the palate but also captivates the senses with its visual appeal and aromatic allure.