Tales Of A Jwai & His Encounters With Odia Food

Tales Of A Jwai & His Encounters With Odia Food
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Baripada Mudhi Mansa is a mixture of puffed rice & Odia mutton curry. Photo: Pallavi Roy

Someone said marriage is the union of hearts. But, somehow your husband’s culinary tradition also plays an integral part of your married life. My mother always reminded me about Moshe's untold commandment – “A way to a man's heart was through his stomach.” I have ever since followed it.

Our wedding was a hushed affair. While I hailed from the east, he belonged to the western part of India. Quite naturally our backgrounds were different. But what brought us together was our love for food. So it came down to the real test of the new son-in-law! Soon plans were made to visit my ancestral home, my part-Bengali and part-Odia influenced household. He obviously took a heavy gulp before venturing into a non-territorial zone.

We were a toned down version of the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam family minus the grandeur. We loved food so much that you’d always find ourselves engulfed with plates full of savoury and sweet ballistic missiles, which were aimed right at his tummy. And he never got a chance to say ‘No’. This homecoming of a son-in-law is synonymous with other parts of India too.

My uncle’s house was located right beside the Mahanadi river in east central India, which meant that fresh catch was always available. It was 8 o’ clock in the morning and my husband was already seated at the breakfast table. I made an entry like the lioness of the den with a very nonchalant gait only to be shaken by his bewildered expression. Served in front of him was fried Pohola fish (a variety of small fish), which for him was out of this world! Interestingly, an average Odia household loves its portion of non-vegetarian food be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and this was a first for my husband. After numerous servings of bhaja macha (fried fish), macha tarkari (fish curry), chinguri masala (prawns cooked with spices) and kasha mansa (slow-cooked mutton), we embarked on our journey to my city of birth, Jamshedpur.

On our way, we made a pit stop at Baripada, a small township in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It is very popular for its puffed rice or mudhi, which is also considered as an integral part of its diet. An exclusive dish available in this small town is Baripada Mudhi Mansa (puffed rice with mutton curry) that was served to us for breakfast. The exclusivity is that it is not to be found in other parts of the state. A leftover gravy from the mutton curry is mixed with onions, green chillies and fresh coriander along with the puffed rice to prepare this interesting dish.

Incidentally, mudhi is touted to have originated in Baripada. Hence, ‘Baripada mudhi’ is like a brand name owing to its natural, additive-free and indigenous product. With the involvement of several NGOs, mudhi production provides employment to the economically marginalised women of this region too. My endeavour is to take this snack to the mainstream, and also bring this region to the limelight for its micro-entrepreneurship. For the uninitiated, mudhi has now been included as part of the ‘Make in India’ flagship programme by the Government of India.

As for the dear jwai pua (son-in-law), he continues to be flabbergasted by many such meals, which I save for my next post.

This dish is only available in Baripada, Odisha. Photo: Pallavi Roy

Recipe for Baripada Mudhi Mansa

To make the Odia Mansa Tarkari (Odia mutton curry)

Ingredients

1 kg khasi mansa with extra charbi (fat)

3 large onions, made into paste

2 medium potatoes, diced

2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 tbsp mutton curry Powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 bay leaf

2-3 cloves

1 black cardamom

1 inch cinnamon

2 tbsp mustard oil (for the typical taste)

1 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

Method

1. Marinate the mutton with 1 tsp mustard oil, turmeric powder and red chilli powder.

2. Heat oil in a skillet or kadhai. The trick to using mustard oil is to allowing it to become piping hot. This would remove any strong odours from the oil in your recipe.

3. Shallow fry your potatoes and set them aside. In the same oil add the sugar and let it caramelise.

4. Then add your whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, cardamon and bay leaf). Wait till the aroma engulfs the kitchen.

5. Add your onion paste and fry for 5 minutes. Then add your ginger garlic paste and fry for another 5 minutes.

6. Now add your mutton curry powder and fry for another 5 minutes. Add a little water to the mixture and allow it to steam fry for a few minutes or until the oil separates from the spice mixture. At this stage the mixture is ready to go to the next stage.

7. Now add your marinated mutton and coat it evenly with the spices. Keep frying the mutton for a few more minutes. Add your potatoes now.

8. Pour 2 cups of boiling water and let it simmer for 1 hour covered. This would help the mutton fat to gradually melt and add to the richness and flavour of the dish.

9. After one hour when the gravy has thickened then add your salt.

10. Your delicious Odia mutton curry is ready. There will be a thin layer of oil over the mutton curry, which indicates a good mutton curry.

To make Baripada Mudhi Mansa

Ingredients

1 cup mudhi

1 onion finely chopped

1 green chilli finely chopped

Fresh sprig of coriander leaves, finely chopped

A pinch of Odia jira raga gunda (roast cumin seeds and red chillies & then grind them together)

Method

Mix all the ingredients together and finally add a some mutton curry with a few chunks of meat.

Born and brought up in India, Roy currently resides in London. She works as a part-time software professional, writer, heuristic recipe developer, stylist apart from blogging, photographing and travelling. She chronicles them on her website, Heuristic Kitchens. She is currently smitten by the rare art of slow living. When not juggling pots, camera or computer, she is making memories with her family.

Follow Roy on Twitter @HeuristicK

Pallavi Roy

Pallavi Roy

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