For Odias, pakhala (watered-rice) is one of the most popular and simplest forms of eating rice. The traditional dish is also offered to Lord Jagannath. Since the dish curbs dehydration, it is regarded as an indispensable summer staple in the region.
While Orissa (situated in the eastern part of India) is not a typically hot region, the state does get considerably warm during summers. Traditionally, the farmers of Odisha always relied on ‘pakhala’ to give them strength and cool down their body temperature, through long and humid days in the fields.
In fact, Odisha was previously known as ‘Odra Desha’ which translates to land of cultivators, which is indicative of the significance of ‘pakhala’ is for its people. Every year, 20th of March is observed as Pakhala Dibasa (Pakhala Day) since it is the signature dish of Odisha. We usually relish it with drumstick, aloo and pumpkin flower fry, pickle, dry fish fry, alu bharta, badhi chura, papad, saga, roasted baingan, tomato, onion and green chilli.
Dahi Vata Pakhala
- Steam rice – 1 bowl
- Water – as per the type of rice
- Curd – 4 to 5 tbsp
- Mustard oil – 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – ½ tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Curry leaves
- Green chilli – 1 pc
- Sliced lemon – 1 pc
- Take steamed rice in a large bowl.
- Add curd and salt, mix well.
- For tadka, heat oil and mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chilli.
- Fry for 1 min and mix the tadka with the rice.
- Add a dash of lemon juice to the rice.
- Mustard oil – 2 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
- Sliced onion – 1 small sized
- Dry red chilli – 2 pcs
- Boiled potatoes – 3 medium sized
- Turmeric powder- ½ tbsp
- Heat oil and add mustard seeds.
- Add the sliced onions, dry red chilli and fry till golden brown.
- Add boiled aloo and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for 5 mins on low flame.
This is the simplest way to make aloo bharta.
Drumstick, Potato and Pumpkin Flower Fry
- Drumstick – 1 pc
- Sliced potato – 1 medium pc
- Pumpkin flower – 3 pcs
- Rice flour- 1 cup
- Salt – ½ tbsp
- Haldi – ½ tbsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
- Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
- Cut, peel the drumstick and put it in water.
- Boil the drumsticks and sliced potato with a pinch of salt and haldi for 5 mins on medium flame.
- Take rice flour, salt, haldi, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste in a bowl.
- Add a little water and mix well to make a paste.
- Meanwhile, cut out the lower part/sepal (which contains a stalk, a bottom and a stigma 0.5-1 inch in length and yellow in colour) of the flower, except the petal. Wash well.
- Marinate the flower, boiled potato and drumsticks
- Cook for 2 minutes or until crisp on one side. Then flip and cook the other side by drizzling a little oil.
- Fry until both sides of the pumpkin flower is crisp.
- Kosala Saga – 500 gm
- Sliced onion – 1 small size
- Chopped rasuna (Garlic) – 5 small cloves
- Chopped kancha lanka ( Green Chilies) – 1 Pc
- BADI (black gram fritters)- 15grm
- Luna (salt) – to taste
- Sorisa Tela (mustard oil) – 2 tsp
- Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
- Red chilli – 2 pcs
- Wash the Kosala saga and then cut into small slices (1-2 cm is best).
- Heat mustard oil and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and red chilli
- Once it starts spluttering, add onion to it and fry till it turns golden brown
- Then add salt, cook for 2-3 minutes in medium flame
- Add the badi and cook for 1 minute till the spinach is tender
- Bhakura (Catla) or Rahu Fish – 6 pieces
- Turmeric powder – ½ tbsp
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 tbsp
- Garam masala – ½ tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- Sorisa Tela (Mustard Oil) – 8-9 tbsp
- Lemon juice – 2-3 tbsp
- Clean the fish pieces thoroughly and drain the excess water.
- Take a bowl and add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Mix all with a little water.
- Marinate the pieces of fish and keep aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil in a Pan. You can add 3-4 pieces of fish at a time and fry on both sides for 10 minutes till it cooks through and turns golden brown.
- Sprinkle lemon juice over the fried fish and enjoy.
- Badi / Sun dried urad daal fritters – 5 to 6 pieces
- Green chilies – 1 to 2 pieces
- Chopped garlic – 2 to 3 big cloves
- Salt – to taste
- Coriander leaves
- Onion – 1 small cut into slices
- Shallow fry the badi/sun dried urad daal fritters in mustard oil till they turn golden brown.
- Crush the fried badis.
- Add green chillies, onion, salt and coriander leaves. Crush it all together to make a chura.
Watch this recipe here – Pakhala Thali
Pratima was born in a small village of Odisha, into a family of five. While she and her siblings ranked well academically, she was more inclined towards cooking. At the age of 13 she partially lost her hearing but her other senses of taste, touch and attention heightened and she became curious about farming, gardening and cooking.
She learned how to cook when she was in the sixth grade. Her first dish was ‘Khatta’ – a sweet and tangy tomato based gravy, which she made for her father who worked as a farmer. Since then, a passion for cooking grew in her and she would spend hours in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes.
She moved to Bhubaneshwar after her wedding and was a happy homemaker supporting the family’s small business. Despite her love for cooking, she never considered pursuing it as a career. She didn’t think she had the skills or confidence to.
During the pandemic, her son introduced her to social media and showed her videos of many women content creators. Pratima decided to give it a try and share her recipes with the world.
She struggled with being in front of the camera initially but her daughter and son helped her overcome her inhibitions. Eventually, she took the leap and started her YouTube channel and there’s been no looking back since.
Translations and detailed descriptions are provided to give a better understanding of the story to people from different cultural backgrounds across the globe.