Pana Sankranti, Odia New Year Through Culinary Journey Of Odisha
Image Credit: Wood apple sharbat is must for Pana Sankranti

Pana Sankranti, also known as Maha Vishuba Sankranti, is a festival celebrated in Odisha to mark the start of the traditional new year and the conclusion of the previous one. This day is named after a special drink called Pana, which is served during the festival. It is also observed as the first day of the solar calendar.  

A typical Odia meal on Pana Sankranti comprises several curries, vegetables, and pickles accompanied by rice. The meal could feature Kanika, Dalma, Aloo potol subzi, and Chhena poda, all served generously. The traditional Pana drink served on this day is Bela Pana, a refreshing beverage made from ripe bel fruit pulp. Let us explore in detail the sumptuous spread served during this celebration. 

1. Bela Pana 

To prepare the dish, you will need half a cup of finely grated bel, one cup of milk, a quarter cup of chenna, a peeled banana chopped into small pieces, half a cup of honey or jaggery, half a cup of yogurt, 3-4 cardamoms, a teaspoon of black pepper powder, 10-12 cashew nuts, and a tablespoon of grated coconut. First, blend the bel, peeled banana, yogurt, paneer, cardamom, and sugar together. Then, add water and mix until it becomes a smooth paste. Finally, sprinkle ground cashew nuts and grated coconut on top and serve immediately. 

2. Macha Ghanta 

Macha Ghanta, a popular fish dish in Odisha, is enjoyed by every household in the region. The dish consists of the fried head of the fish and is typically served with hot steamed rice and salad. The recipe includes a combination of onions, potatoes, garlic, and other common spices. Vegetarians can make a plain version of the dish by omitting the fish. Macha Ghanta is an unmatched delicacy that is likely to leave a lasting impression on anyone who tries it while in Odisha. 

3. Dalma

The popular dish Dalma in Odisha is made with roasted moong dal and does not include onion or garlic. A variety of vegetables, such as pumpkin, plantains, yams, and papaya, are added with common spices to enhance the flavor. This dish is usually served with rice and is a delicious, healthy meal that can satisfy any appetite. 

4. Kanika

Kanika, a sweet pulao dish traditionally prepared in Orissa, holds a significant position among the 56 items included in 'Chappan Bhog'. Kanika is a popular Odia dish that is made during the festivities of the traditional New Year. Basmati rice, with its aromatic flavor, can be used instead of the raw rice that is typically used to make Kanika. Although it is commonly served as an offering in temples, Kanika rice is also considered a staple food in Orissa and is best enjoyed with delicious chicken or mutton curry. 

5. Santula

The Oriya delicacy referred to as a classic is a vegetable curry that can be either fried or boiled. It is made with a combination of raw papaya, potato, tomato, and brinjal, and the taste is very enjoyable. The dish is considered healthy because it contains a lot of greens and fewer spices. Many people eat it regularly for its nutritional value. To enhance the flavor, some people opt to sauté it with milk and spices. 

 6. Aloo Potala Rasa

One of the well-known curries in Orissa is a dish made with a combination of potatoes and pointed gourds. This dish is also referred to as Parwal in North India and is offered to God at the Puri Jagannath temple. To enhance its taste, a small amount of cashew paste or onion/ginger paste can be added.  

7.  Kadali Manja Rai

The ideal accompaniment to a meal on a special occasion is this delicious curry made from banana stems and seasoned with garlic, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and two red chilies. The scent of stir-fried banana stem and the addition of coriander leaves provide a delightful experience that lingers on even after the taste is gone.  

8. Dahi vada-Aloo Dum

Dahi vada and Aloo dum are popular in Odisha, and both dishes are served together in a unique combination. The delicious taste of dahi vadas balances out the spiciness of aloo dum, creating a flavor that is highly desirable to locals. Known as the "Vada Pav" of Cuttack, this dish has become a beloved staple in the daily lives of many people all over the state of Odisha.  

9. Chhena Poda 

Chhena Poda, a famous sweet from Odisha, is also known to be a preferred dessert and is often presented at the Puri Temple. The dessert is made by baking a mixture of burnt homemade cottage cheese, semolina, and sugar syrup for several hours until it turns red, and the caramelized sugar enhances the unique taste of Chhena Poda. This delectable dish is made during the festivities of the traditional New Year and is also sold across the state. 

10. Fruit Pana

To make this dish, you will need half a cup of freshly prepared paneer, half a cup of peeled and chopped apple, a quarter cup each of peeled and chopped mango and banana, half a cup of honey or jaggery, half a cup of yogurt, two cardamom pods, a handful of ground cashews, and a fistful of freshly grated coconut (optional). To prepare the dish, blend all the ingredients, including the fruits, yogurt, paneer, cardamom, and sweetener, in a mixer. Add a cup of water and mix well. Serve the mixture fresh, garnished with the ground cashews and grated coconut.