Odisha's dried white peas curry, known as ghuguni, is a snack in itself. But when you pair it with a few other foods as the locals do, the result is heavenly.
Growing up in Odisha, my food habits were influenced by a mix of Odia cuisine and Bengali culinary fares. The latter is because of my Bengali roots. Nevertheless, this medley was easy to handle as these neighbouring states have many foods in common, and so are their recipes. A simple example is ghugni or the white peas curry. Perhaps the only difference is the additional 'U' in the spelling or pronunciation of the dish in Odisha, and it's spelt ghuguni. While a few cooks it with potato cubes, others skip it. 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' - resonating with this famous adage, I also acquired a taste for ghuguni. It is hard to resist its versatility when it is paired with an array of foods. I must say, the natives of this state ace in matchmaking of flavours.
So, embark with me on this journey and explore how Odiyas relish their ghuguni.
Chakuli pitha ghuguni, Image Source: Instagram
In many Odia households, the staple breakfast option is ghuguni and chakuli. Chakuli is a close cousin of the famous south Indian staple dosa. It differs from the latter in size, colour and crispiness. Chakuli is white, soft and a little thicker rice crepes. This combo is an all-time winner: simple to make, easy to digest, yet filling.
Being a state high on rice consumption, the consumption of paddy's byproducts is also significant. Mudhi or mudi (puffed rice) is a testament to Odisha's love for anything made of rice. While in regions like Baripada and the entire district of Mayurbhanj, mudhi is the mainstay of local cuisine, the rest of the state also relishes it. And it would have been unfair not to pair mudhi with ghuguni. The typical Odia way to devour this combination would be mixing crispy puffed rice with a teaspoon of mustard oil, chopped onion, green chilly and a lavish portion of ghuguni in a big bowl. For extra munch, add some Cuttack special mixture.
Idli with ghuguni and sliced onion, Image Source: Instagram
Yes, you read it right. Go to any eateries serving breakfast or those roadside vendors or snacks sellers at pushcarts; idli and ghuguni must include on the menu. The taste and consistency of white peas curry aren't the same across the food hubs. Even the fluffiness of idli differs. However, this combination is another popular breakfast choice in Odisha.
Bara ghuguni, Image Source: Instagram
In Odisha, bara refers to split black lentil fritters. These are similar to Medu vada of south India. Bara-ghuguni is a common snack option found widely across the state. Apart from home, it is sold as street food in small to medium-sized eateries. Often while serving, the crispy baras are dunked in ghuguni in a bowl and garnished with chopped onions and fresh coriander leaves. The crisp and mushy mix leaves one craving for more.
It is another most preferred snack option is Odisha. Chop refers to aloo chop or aloo bonda, or vada. The crisp mashed potato filling seasoned with spices coated with Bengal gram batter is a treat. But Odiyas know how to enhance the taste further by serving these crispy potato patties with the humble ghuguni. Next time you have an aloo chop in Odisha, don't forget to ask for the white peas gravy.
Which one made you drool? We are eager to hear you out!