Lesser-known dishes from regional indian kitchens
There’s more to Indian food than the regular Butter Chicken and Paneer Tikka. Every regional Indian cuisine has some unique dishes – which often go unexplored. At the Home Chef Matters celebrity chef Harpal Singh Sokhi spoke about the importance of these unexplored regional dishes and how home chefs are playing a key role in preserving them. “India is a land with diverse cuisines and culinary styles vary from region to region. Some of these lesser-known dishes should be preserved and documented by home chefs. The way to keep them alive is to continue cooking these,” he said.
Here are some flavourful and relatively unknown dishes from kitchens all over the country.
Chhena Poda of Orissa
Odisha, the land of Lord Jagannath, has some of the most drool-worthy delicacies on offer (read mutton mudhi, Dhenkanal bara). But the showstopper is the quintessential Chhena Poda (sweet cottage cheese). Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi calls it “the signature dish of Orissa,” which is available in roadside stalls and confectionaries throughout the state. According to folklore, this sweet dish originated accidentally in the town of Nayagarh in the first half of the 20th-century. Known for its lingering taste of burnt cheese, this sweetmeat was invented by late Sudarsan Sahu while experimenting with the leftover cottage cheese. A favourite sweet dish offered to the Lord, it is sold in small traditional roadside stalls and confectionaries. Chhena Poda is made by kneading chhena and semolina along with sugar and flavoured with cardamom powder, raisins and roasted cashews.
Kasrod Ka Achaar of Uttarakhand
The undiscovered Pahari cuisine is unique constituting mainly herb and millet-based dishes. Fiddlehead fern, a speciality of New England and the eastern coast of Canada, is widely grown along the banks of Uttarakhand during the rainy season. This power-packed vegetable rich in iron enhances immunity and promotes bone growth. Chef Sokhi recalls, “I came across this vegetable in a pickle shop in the state when I was shooting there. Earlier the fiddlehead ferns could only be obtained through foraging but they are now easier to source. In India too, home chefs and restaurants are increasingly relying on local food wisdom and incorporating these unknown vegetables in their menus.” This green pickle is the perfect accompaniment with hot parathas and phulkas.
Thekua of Jharkhand
Thekua is a popular crunchy and mildly sweet whole wheat cookie made in every household during the Chhath Puja and other festive occasions. This healthy dish doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. Traditionally, this deep-fried snack is made using wheat flour, sugar and ghee. Try baking it if you don’t want it fried.
Khurmi of Chattisgarh
The cuisine of Chattisgarh is flavourful and spicy. The quintessential thali has a rustic flavour with rice and rice flour preparations and a variety of leafy vegetables. Dishes like Aamat, rice pakodas and dehati bada (urad dal fritters), gulgule and kusli are common. But perhaps it is the Khurmi (sweet dish), a tribal favourite, which tops the food charts. Khurmi is an oval-shaped sweet deep-fried dish made up of wheat flour and jaggery. Coconut is added to enhance the flavour and for some crunch. The dish is served traditionally as a prasad along with Thetri and Biriya during the occasion of pola festival in which bulls are decorated and worshipped by the farmers.
So what’s your favourite regional delicacy? Share your comments with readers below.