From Pakhala To Pizzas: A Look Into Odisha's Present-Day Food Culture

City Lights: Food

Over the last few years, Bhubaneswar has seen rapid developments in its food industry. Here's a sneak-peek into how the food culture exists in the Temple City today

Be it in the middle of the day or night, one thing that appeals to the soul of every Odia is food! Odisha's history with food is most definitely one of a kind. Even though Odisha is normally associated with fish, rice, plantains, and greens, it has also welcomed the staples from other cultures with open arms, be it the cuisines of North and South India, western India or even other parts of the eastern coastal plains!

With new restaurants opening up in the city almost every other day, one might think that Odias might forget their food origins. "Be it any part of India, people know Odisha by temples and Odias by food! I think even though Bhubaneswar is developing new tastes, most people still prefer to go for abhada during festive occasions, I know my family does. It's mostly the younger generations trying out the new stuff," says Sarthak Mohanty, a college student.

To this, Meenaxi Panda, a home-maker from Chandrasekharpur adds, "We eat all kinds of cuisines and appreciate every flavour. It is just we have reserved Thursdays for abhada. It is a family favourite. Personally, abhada for me is sort of a cleansing source, it is the food of Gods after all! Nonetheless, it is just a personal preference and we are equally accepting of other dishes as well!"

While one can point out that it is the youth which is mostly transitioning into adding variety to their taste buds while the previous generations are sort of having a hard time adapting to the same, it will most definitely be a misconception if one starts generalising as there are many from the previous generations too who are in love with food evolution in the city.

Speaking of her joy on the opening up of several national and international food chains and joints in the city, Sarmishtha Tripathy, an HR-specialist and mother of two says, "We finally have KFC and Cold Stone while McDonalds is under works. There's Barbeque Nation and Giani, I love where Bhubaneswar is headed to. Being an avid F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan, I was psyched when Central Perk opened up as well! Yes, it will take our generation a little longer to accommodate but I'm pretty sure it will all work out in the end!"When it comes to food, there is not a single parameter that Bhubaneswar has not met. Lingaraj Kumar, a chef at popular fast food chain, 'Green Chillyz' says, "We have gained a name over a span of just three to four years and I feel it's because we offer quantity with quality. The rolls are big and we are not that heavy on people's pockets. Personally, I like to cook and feed people. It just makes me happy being part of something as noble as satisfying someone's hunger."

The coming up of new food outlets has however not caused any hindrance when it comes to the city's effervescent street food culture. Rupali Chhak's chat, Khau Gali's Chinese and Mexican specialties, Patia Chhak's Arabian and inter-continental delicacies are still popular as ever.

Subhransu Mohanty, a member of FoodFindoTM, a Facebook 'closed group' of foodies in and around Bhubaneswar says, "When I used to visit Bhubaneswar during my school days, people were delighted to eat local street-food such as gupchup, chat and jhaal mudi. Now-a-days, one can see crazy rushes in various pizza, burger, and food joints as well. Various global brands such as Pizza Hut, Keventers and Subway, are opening up outlets in our city. These, along with local brands like Green Chillyz, Country Kitchen, and various other food joints, food courts, food trucks, are truly revolutionising the food culture of our city!"

Odisha is perhaps one of the rarer places where food from every culture exists harmoniously, be it the temples' abhada, the local dalma, pakhala, machha bhaja, or dishes not only from other parts of India, but other parts of the world as well. From plantains to plates, Odisha has come a long way as a food hub, and it still continues to grow. One must definitely look out for the hipsterly styles now, which clearly are not very far away!