Odias love their food, irrespective of which part of the globe they live in. And, so when Odia girl Sneha Senapati recently decided to host an ‘Odia bhoji’ at a popular restaurant in Mumbai, the response was overwhelming.
The lunch party organised at WTF in Versova, Mumbai, also saw restaurant cum bar owner Prashant Pallath join hands with Sneha to make it a grand success. Besides Odias living in Mumbai who crave for authentic Odia cuisine, a lot of non-Odias also joined in to relish the food that was prepared by Sneha herself.
Sneha, who is working as a Senior Manager at RBL Bank, Andheri West branch in Mumbai loves to cook in her spare time and had therefore willingly prepared all the items that were included in the menu. The lunch was prepared for around 120 to 150 people and went on for over three hours on March 26th.
Talking to MCL, WTF owner Prashant said, “I have recently started organising lunch parties for various Indian cuisines with the aim to promote them among different categories of people and create awareness about that particular cuisine so that the authentic dishes of different cuisines do not die a natural death. The first lunch event was based on Parsi cuisine and this was the second one in the series on Odia cusine. Sneha expressed her interest to host the lunch and so I thought it was a great idea and gave her the platform.”
“Many Odia people had contacted me for the party and had booked their seats beforehand to enjoy authentic Odia food, which they miss out here in Mumbai. But along with Odias, we had a large number of guests who were non-Odias and this was also one of the objectives of the lunch party. We wanted to spread awareness about Odia platter among the masses. Since we knew that most people would be busy on weekdays, we had organised the party on Sunday so that more people can come and enjoy the tasty Odia food,” he added.
The lunch included starters, main course and dessert. In starters, there was gupchup, mudhi masala, chicken pakoda, mix bhaja, machha bhaja, alu chop and mutton keema baraa. The main course items comprised ghee anna, dalma, badi churra, khasi mansa tarkari, bandha kobi matar, machha kalia, chuin alu besara, kukuda kassa, Cuttack dahi bara aludum, amba khatta, dahi baigana and luchi. Then, desserts had chaula khiri, iced tea and smoothie. With each plate costing just Rs. 900, the organisers had also arranged for a special ‘bucket of beer’ that included six beers and was priced at Rs 990.
Sneha, who was very excited about the lunch, told us, “I usually go to WTF as it is near to my house. When I got to know that Prashant has plans to promote regional Indian cuisines on Sundays, I suggested him to take up Odia cuisine too. Seeing my interest and zeal, he considered the proposal and then we mutually decided to host this ‘Odiya Bhoji’. I decided all the dishes and prepared the menu and Prashant was fine with it. Also, I cooked all the dishes with the help of the kitchen staff of WTF. The recipes were all mine. Prashant was kind enough to give me such a wonderful opportunity and platform to showcase my cooking potential and also make Odia cuisine popular.”
“The environment at the venue was made such that it would portray the essence of Odia culture and tradition. The motive was to make people feel and know unique things about our culture and cuisine, who came for the party.I used my Sambalpuri sarees, Pipili artifacts and chanduas, to decorate the dining hall. There was Odia music (Sambalpuri music) too, so that the ambiance would be typically Odia,” she further added.
Expressing her views about what generally other people think of Odia food, Sneha said, “People eat Odia cuisine, but assume it as Bengali food, and only a few know that most of our Odia dishes have been translated into Bengali food which have now become famous as Bengali cuisine. Originally, it was Odia cuisine which had a great influence on Bengali dishes. In fact, about 90% chefs who are working across different hotels in Mumbai are Odias. But still a majority of Indians aren’t aware of Odia dishes and this is really disheartening. Therefore, I decided to host this lunch party to make people understand and appreciate authentic Odia cuisine.”