Odisha, the land of temples, beaches, and art, is also home to some of the most delicious and mouth-watering sweets in India. Odia sweets, or mitha, are made from a variety of ingredients, such as milk, chhena (a form of cottage cheese), coconut, rice, and wheat flour. They are often flavored with cardamom, saffron, nuts, and dried fruits. Whether you are visiting Odisha for its rich culture and heritage, or for its scenic beauty and wildlife, you should not miss the opportunity to taste these heavenly delights. Here are five must-try sweets from Odisha that will make your trip unforgettable.
1. Chhena Poda: The most popular dessert of Odisha, chhena poda literally means roasted cottage cheese. It is made by mixing chhena with sugar, rice flour or semolina, clarified butter, milk, and dry fruits. The mixture is then wrapped in sal leaves and baked in a charcoal oven for two to three hours. The result is a soft and juicy cake with a caramelized crust and a hint of smokiness. Chhena poda is also considered as the favorite sweet of Lord Jagannatha and is offered to him during the annual car festival at Puri.
2. Rasabali: A delicacy from the Kendrapara district of Odisha, rasabali consists of deep-fried, flattened patties of chhena that are soaked in thickened, sweetened milk (rabri). The chhena patties are soft and spongy and absorb the rich and creamy milk. The milk is lightly seasoned with crushed cardamoms for a fragrant touch. Rasabali is one of the 56 items (chappan bhog) that are served to Lord Jagannatha as part of the daily ritual. Rasabali has also got the GI tag recently.
3. Rasagola: A classic Indian sweet that has been a subject of controversy between Odisha and West Bengal over its origin, rasagola is made from ball-shaped dumplings of chhena and semolina dough that are cooked in a light sugar syrup. The dumplings are kept in the syrup for a while before serving so that they soak up the sweetness. The Odia rasagola is different from the Bengali rosogulla in terms of color, texture, taste, syrup content, and method of preparation. The Odia rasagola is brownish in color, softer in texture, less sweet in taste, has thinner syrup, and is cooked over an open flame.
4. Chhena Gajaa: Another variation of chhena-based sweets, chhena gajaa is made by kneading chhena with sugar and a little bit of flour. The dough is then cut into small pieces and deep-fried until golden and crisp. The fried pieces are then coated with sugar syrup and garnished with pistachios or almonds. Chhena gajaa has a crunchy exterior and a chewy interior and is best enjoyed when fresh.
5. Arisa Pitha: A traditional Odia pancake, arisa pitha is made from rice flour that is kneaded with jaggery or sugar syrup and topped with sesame seeds. The dough is then shaped into thin discs and deep-fried in oil or ghee. Arisa pitha is crispy and sweet and can be stored for a long time. It is usually served on Manabasa (Lakshmi Puja) which falls in the month of Margasir (December).
These are just some of the many amazing sweets that Odisha has to offer. Each region of Odisha has its own specialty and variation of sweets that reflect its local culture and cuisine. So next time you visit Odisha, make sure you try these sweets and discover more for yourself.