We like to taste the local food of every new place that we go to. But in every culture there is a subset of hidden foods, the food that you eat at home. Home cooked sweets often fall in this category. So we were happy to see in a fancy restaurant in Bhubaneswar a selection of Odisha’s pitha.
The three that you see in the photo are the manda pitha, with its steamed rice flour coating, the deep fried kakada pitha, and the enduri pitha, which is made by enclosing the pitha in turmeric leaves before steaming. All had fillings of grated coconut sweetened with palm jaggery. You can also see a serving of rice kheer, that staple of home sweets across the rice growing parts of the country. This one was sweetened with the same gud that was used for the pitha. I finished one serving before The Family reminded me to take a photo.
Bodo food was on my mind when we travelled to Manas National Park this week. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore food, but our resort did served some. Not the meat most commonly eaten in this region: pork. Nor that other staple: duck. We saw people collecting snails from ponds, but we didn’t find the famous dal with snails on our menu. We had leafy greens with every meal, something that you find when you travel to Bengal or further east. Two specials were a local variety of spinach called lapa mwidru, and jute leaves, called morapaat. A dal and a fish curry flavoured with tenga mora (roselle) also appeared on our menu. Everything else is left for future exploration.
What we were fortunate enough to taste were local sweets. Our wildlife guide’s wife generously sent us these supplements. The rice kheer is common across India, and the mildly sweet version that is traditionally Bodo was not surprising. Another specialty was one of the Bodo versions of pitha, shown in the photo. In the version we ate, the rice crepe was filled with jaggery before being steamed. It was much drier than the Bengali version. I was glad, because that made it easier to carry in our backpacks. The Family and I, quite literally, took one for the road.