Five years ago, I wouldn’t have ever imagined myself preparing a traditional Odia thali – that’s mostly because I have always been the venturous kinds, finding myself playing with new ingredients and untried stuff.Tried and tested recipes were for “traditional” people.Or so I thought – until this whole idea of preparing a thali was seeded with the Indian Thali Mela, which gives a unique platform for food bloggers all over India to represent their own states. That’s when I decided that I want to represent Odisha.
The aroma and the taste of each morsel of a traditional dish evokes such strong emotions that can only be experienced.My very own time-machine you see. I have been wanting to prepare this Thali for quite sometime now, particularly since its been very busy at work lately. So last Sunday was one of the few Sundays I got some time for myself after a long time. Feeling well rested and armed with a strong desire to make it happen..I took upon myself to make a traditional Odia “Arua” thali. “Arua” refers to dishes which do not have any garlic or onion for religious reasons.This thali is mostly prepared on Thursdays and Sundays, for those were the days no non-veg was allowed into the house. So my first phone call was to my Ma and after a lot of consultancy and given my time constraints,we decided upon a menu.This is my mini-version of the Odia thali which is influenced by the “Chhapanna bhog” (56 offering) or the “Mahaprasad” offered to Lord Jagannath in the Puri Jagannath temple.
The Lord Jagannath temple of Puri needs no introduction to many of us but those of you wanting an introduction- its one of the “Char Dhams” that a Hindu is needed to make in a lifeitme. I wouldn’t go into the history over here but will definitely try to represent the significance of Lord Jagannath for anyone born or brought up in Odisha. There’s a mandatory visit to the Jagannath temple every year that I return home to India. No visit of mine has been complete without visiting the temple and to the “Ananda Bazaar”. “Ananda Bazaar” is the food market within the temple premises which sells the “Mahaprasad” to devotees. The aroma of the deliciously cooked prasad is irresistible and divine and this is an attempt to recreate it at home.
All items in this menu are without any garlic and onion in line with the demands of “arua” days and various permutations and combinations of the thali is possible.The menu is as follows
-“Mitha Khechudi” – Sweetened rice-lentil pilaf, fragrant with whole spices
-“Butta Dali Dalma” – A highly nutritious dish made of split chick peas and veggies with a traditional tadka of cumin, a traditional cumin-red chilli spice mix and coconut.
-“Dahi Baigan” – An eggplant and yogurt raita with a tempering of mustard seeds and chillies.
-“Tamato Khatta” – A sweet sour instant pickle of tomatoes with dates and chillies.
-“Kheeri” – Traditional sweet rice pudding fragrant with rose water, saffron and nuts.
-“Lembu,luna aau kancha lanka” – A wedge of lemon, salt and green chili
All of the recipes will come in eventually with different posts. Here’s the first of the list – “Mitha Khechudi”.
This rice and lentil pilaf is a fragrant with nutmeg powder is the sweetened version of the “khichdi” which is a well known comfort food in most parts of India.The crunchiness of cashews imparts a nutiness that elevates this simple dish to a different level altogether.
- Wash and soak the rice and lentils together for about 20 mins.
- Add ghee to the pan and when its warm, add in the whole spices.Once the spices turn fragrant, add in the cashews and raisins. Stir till light brown.
- Strain the rice and lentil mixture thoroughly and mix it with the spices.Stir the rice mixture for 2-3 mins till very lightly browned. The rice tends to stick so keep stirring.
- Add in 2 1/2 cups of warm water to the rice.Sprinkle the sugar, salt, turmeric powder and nutmeg powder and boil for 20 mins until done.
Variation: This dish can very easily be made in minutes with a pressure cooker. Use the same procedure as above and wait for 2 whistles.
This is one of my favorite warm comfort foods that parallels khichdi in taste and surpasses it in memory. It’s simple, warm and packed with flavor for any occasion needing that kind of special attention. Serve it with a side dish or just by itself- it promises to satisfy you nonetheless.
Keep an eye for later posts with dishes from this thali.
P.s: Apart from Indian Thali Mela, I am submitting this recipe to:
“[Cooking with Love- Mom](http://www.nithubala.com/2012/03/event-announcement-cooking-with-love.html)” by Nithu and Sara.
“[Heirloom Recipes:Kitchen Chronicles](http://www.sarasyummybites.com/2012/04/event-announcement-kitchen-chronicles.html)” by Sara and Kalyani.
“[Walk through memory lane](http://rascookbook.blogspot.com/2012/03/wtml-event-announcement-giveaway.html)” event – Rasi and Gayatri
” [Mom’s recipes](http://sravscc.blogspot.com/2012/04/announcing-cooking-concepts-10-moms.html)” event – hosted by Sravs.
“[Show me your hits:Rice](http://cooksjoy.com/blog/2012/07/show-me-your-hits-rice-event-announcement.html)” hosted by Sangee and Vardhini.