The Odia Art Of Making Badi Or Dried Dumplings

The onset of spring brings a wide smile to my and my sister’s faces. The reason is the realisation that the season to spruce up our meals with some delicious and crunchy delights has finally arrived. As soon as the colours of spring start blooming, my mom starts soaking black lentils, blending them in a mixer-grinder, leaving them to ferment and finally making bite-sized lentil cakes out of them to be dried in the sun for at least 3-4 days. These dried and crunchy cakes are then preserved in airtight containers for further consumption. While sitting on our terrace early in the morning to study, my sister and I don’t mind sneaking a badi or two from the batch to fry them for lunch. This ritual has been followed by us until now. That’s how our love for badi has escalated; transcending all barriers of age and maturity.

Looking through the pages of history reveals that badi have been specific to the Odia tradition for ages. Around Makar Sankranti, large batches of badi are made in Keonjhar to be offered to the deities at Baladevjew Temple in the Keonjhar district. No Odia girl goes to her in-law’s house without a batch of badi. Badi are regarded as auspicious in Odia culture.

Traditionally, they were prepared using a sil-stone. However, commercial badi makers in Odisha have adopted technology in the form of batter-making machines. Odisha Rural Marketing Services facilitates funds and marketing of badi.

Along with the large batches, the varieties of badi made in Odisha are also diverse and unique. Starting with the simplest, the ‘phula badi’ are the smallest of the varieties and are made without any additives. ‘Kakharu badi’ or bads made with pumpkin pulp are usually bigger in size than ‘phula badis’ and enriched with the flavours of pumpkin. ‘Rashi badi’ and ‘lia badi’ are two other popular varieties that are made with sesame seeds and fried paddy respectively. Other than these varieties, several other badi types like ‘tomato badi’ and ‘chaula badi’ are also relished fondly.

Needless to say, with the variety of badi made and savoured in Odisha, the cuisine is also full of other delicacies made with badi that have rich and robust flavours. To start with, badi chura is a must-have in an authentic Odia pakhala platter. All Odia besara (mustard-based) delicacies are revamped to a whole new level with badi in them. And are Odia sagas even complete without the crunch of badi in them? My Odia heart says “No”.

If you ever get a chance to visit Odisha, do not forget to bring back some packets of badi to add a flavour of Odisha to your favourite dishes.