When you mention Indian food, an average person around the world would imagine butter naan bread, spicy paneer or chicken tikka curry and countless other dishes that will tickle their nostrils with flavourful aroma. Well, that’s how the rest of the world generally knows Indian cuisine, tempered with loads of spices and topped with clarified butter or ghee.

Now, think of Vegan food, we bet many of you might start picturing leafy salad greens, fancy dressings, low on spice which you might think of having once in a couple of months when you feel your belly fat is on a steady rise. If you’ve ever wondered of having vegan food that will hypnotize your taste buds with flavors, while giving that much needed boost to your health: Welcome to Odia cuisine. Odisha’s cuisine is known for three main things: it’s simplicity, health benefits and delightful flavors.

Odia people, by tradition usually choose a vegetarian or vegan diet for certain days of the week including auspicious festivals or life events. Infact the ongoing month is called Kartika Maasa(month) which they entirely dedicate to practice abstinence from non-vegetarian food. Even Lord Jagannath, the principal deity of the Odia Hindus relishes his 56 varieties of Vegetarian dishes everyday as his prasad or meal.

Straight from a common Odia kitchen, we present five handpicked Odia Vegan dishes that are healthy, tasty and worth every bite. All you need are some fresh veggies, a handful of spices and a low fat oil to prepare these Vegan dishes that will nurture your body, mind and soul.

Dalma – One Pot Lentil Dish Loaded with Veggies

Dalma, Picture Courtesy @odiabhukkad

This quintessential Odia dish that brings dal or lentils together with fresh seasonal vegetables, tempered with spices like cumin seeds and dried red chillies topped with shredded coconut is prepared at least once a week in an Odia household.

One bowl of this dish gives you a dash of your much needed proteins, vitamins and good fat. Served hot with a bowl of rice, it is every Odia’s comfort food which is super easy to prepare, super tasty to eat and super healthy for your body.

During the month of Kartika, a special version of the Dalma is made, containing select vegetables and spices called Habisya Dalma.

Besara – Veggies Cooked in Mustard Gravy

Besara, Picture Courtesy @sarmi_funwithfood

Mustard oil and mustard seeds are an essential part of every Odia’s pantry. The dish that truly celebrates the zesty flavor of mustard in Odisha is Besara.

Fresh vegetables including drumsticks, which are rich in calcium, are cooked together in mustard paste for the vegan version of Besara, giving your tastebuds their much-needed zing of good health and great taste.

Nadia Bara – Coconut Cutlets

Nadia Bara, Picture Courtesy the_riyas_kitchen

What if someone told you that you could enjoy fried food that would actually nourish your skin? Well, one such popular Odia Vegan dish is the Nadia Bara or Coconut cutlets.

The goodness of shredded coconut, which is a great supplement for healthy skin, is sealed in a cutlet after being mixed with a few spices and fried on a tawa or flat pan with minimal oil. This is one Vegan fried food you won’t be guilty of indulging in.

Santula – One Pot Vegetable Soup

Santula, Picture Courtesy @food_stories99

Picture a nice soup, the one that brings together all the veggies that are lying in your refrigerator. This soup, unlike the ready-to-eat ones doesn’t rely heavily on corn flour or starch. It only brings the goodness of vegetables to you, tempered with some spices like cumin and garlic, you might actually end up licking up the bowl like most happy Odias do after finishing their Santula.

Manda Pitha/Enduri Pitha – Steamed Cakes Stuffed with Coconut

Manda Pitha, Picture Courtesy @buds_beast

When we are high on our sweet cravings, we are usually also high on guilt by imagining the calories that would make our body their home. Odisha is home to Pithas or cakes that are an essential part of any Odia festival.

Manda pitha and Enduri pitha are simple yet elegant steamed cakes with sweet coconut filling that will help you satiate your sweet cravings without adding to your calorie count. Some creative cooks replace the sweet coconut filling with spicy vegetables as well to add variation to their dishes. The tumeric leaf cover of Enduri pitha, further adds to it’s health benefits, making it a wholesome sweet snack. It is a must have on any Odia’s menu during special events and festivals.

Enduri Pitha, Picture Courtesy @bigbitetales

So here you have it: the list of delicious Vegan Odia dishes that will help you maintain the fine balance of taste and health. These five examples show you that Vegan food from Odisha can be incredibly diverse, flavorful and interesting.

Odia Vegan Food nourishes your body while also appealing to your taste buds and senses making it a wholesome experience. What more would a food lover ask for?

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