Odia Chuna Macha Besara- The Perfect Accompaniment For Winter Lunch
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As a kid, I would for Sunday as it brought with it an array of Odia delicacies to be relished. The smell of chakuli pitha used to act as my morning alarm so that I don’t miss out on the first batch of piping hot chakulis along with ghugni. The piping hot, soft and fluffy chakulis and the flavourful ghugni were enough to set my weekend mood for the day. The lunch comprised of steamed rice along with a fish dish and dinner was reserved for mansha jhola or mutton curry.

With the arrival of winters, this routine remains the same except for the addition of the season specialties. And as soon as winter arrives, my mom becomes extra vigilant to save us from the season’s ailments. She begins adding miraculously nutritious foods to our diets and chuna machha or sardines are one of them. Our Sunday lunch during winters was comprised of steamed rice along with sardines cooked in a mustard paste or chuna machha besara. The sardines zing with numerous nutrients that are instrumental in keeping us healthy throughout winters. The mustard paste results in the use of as little oil as possible making the entire dish healthy.

To make chuna machha besara, clean and wash the sardines properly under running water. Marinate them with salt and turmeric and pan-fry with mustard oil till they are golden brown. Add 5-6 cloves of garlic, two tablespoons of mustard seeds and a tablespoon of cumin seeds and blend to a smooth paste. Heat mustard oil in a kadai, add panch phoran, slit green chillies and onions and saute till the onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and cook till they are mushy. Now, add the mustard paste, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder and cook for 3-4 minutes by covering it. Next, add the fried fish and dry mango or ambula and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Once the curry has achieved the right consistency, remove it from the flame and serve with steamed rice and salad on the side.

Now that you know how to make Odia-style chuna machha besara, you can easily make a healthy and delicious fish curry for lunch. Try it out and let us know how you like it.