A kid can be madly excited when his Family shows love in the form of the realization of dreams. I always dreamt of being accidentally locked up in a sweetmeat shop or getting lost in a Russian fairy tale type chocolate castle ( now do not raise your eyebrow-I told you i am a Foodie). It was  mid year 1989 in Kolkata when at home they prepared Chicken Egg Rolls at home. We were a joint family basically from Orissa, but settled in Howrah. When delicious street foods are served at home with no limit on the intake, I guess a glutton like me runs amok like a bull in a China shop. That evening, after early dinner, I left West Bengal for ever with my Father and my kid brother. It was in the train as it left the ever busy Howrah station, sitting by the window, I realized the pain of loss for the first time in my life. And also for the first time in my life, I practiced the art of crying silently and let go a few tears through an utterly choked throat and a suddenly running nose. Bhubaneswar  happened. Not by design but by destiny.

I laughed my way through the interview at Buxi Jagabandhu English Medium School, Bhubaneswar. Weird things happened. Coming from a strict Convent ICSE school, naturally I was good at English, but the medium and language used at school here was like Sanskrit to me-spoken and used by all –known to me but I dint know how to properly use or  write it. The fear for this singular language, which sadly is my mother tongue, gradually became a psychosis and till date I can read only the name of the newspaper but never attempt to read the rest of the content until I am threatened to look down the barrel of a loaded gun. I even passed my matriculation exams with poor scoring Hindi rather than better mark fetching Oriya.

I started the school on day one with a similarly fated skinny artist from Durgapur named Surya Kant Rout and a very bright jolly fellow named Abhishek Patnaik and a firebrand of a girl called Chinmayee Tripathy. We were the 4 new entrants in the class that year. My abhorrence of Oriya perhaps made me the only fellow who studied in every section of the class in the whole period of schooling. It was a blessing in disguise, actually. I made lots of friends for the lifetime. School was fun with football being the singular passion- which started at 5 in the morning and continued till 7 in the evening. How we passed the board exams is still a miraculous mystery.

It was afterwards, in college that I rediscovered and rekindled the hunter instinct in me. A student at Maharshi College in Sahid Nagar, we used to have the best Kachori Chat at Dam Maharaja in Satya Nagar and though the Gup Chup infront of Rama Devi College were popular because of the crowd, the best one were at Ravi Talkies and Market Building and Master Canteen. For deep fried snacks like bara, aluchop, vegetable chop and singada, I would suggest one to try out Bombay Snacks at Bapuji Nagar and most of the Gangurams. Khatta Meetha in Bapuji Nagar made the best of Chole Bhature while Mausima Chaks Patra Chat’s quantity beat Kalpana Square and Sahid Nagar’s quality. For a different taste, one should try out Bapuji Nagar’s Papdi chat too.The whole of Khurda district, which was famous for pickled Jhalmudi, soon found favour with AluDum Ghuguni Dahi Bara on bicycles too. They are nothing like the one at  Cuttack’s Barabati stadium centre, but a dona full of dahi (curd water) in the summer quenches the thirst like nothing. Omfed shops specialized in quality tea, with Sahid Nagar (near present day NM study centre) being the premium one. The khatti ambience there, will beat CCDs and Baristas any day anywhere. But what will beat everthing black and blue is Cuttack Professorpada’s singular single room food outlet run by 2 brothers who prepares only sold out before being made nonveg only items. The variety available there is eaten to be believed. Mati handi(earthen ware) mutton is good too, while Appetite and Food Bugs at Sahid Nagar drew in crowds too. But sales at Green Chillies on       Master Canteen beats all records. But if you have a heavy Non vegetarian intake capacity and are ready to forgo class and do not mind tipsy company, try out the Maa Tarini Dhaba at Rasulgarh. Unique and famous for its pioneering concept and presence is the Dalma. Though these days Sola anna odia and others have also come up with the authentic Odia food concept too.

When at Bapuji Nagar, one should also try out Bhaina’s Mutton curry and Biriyani, Venus Inn’s Veg items and Non Veg preparations at Tandoor Delight, located at the fag end of Bapuji Nagar. Though I would be missing Rajdhani Chak’s Dum Biriyani- one of the best that I have tasted. Also popular is Satuas Bhaina’s deep fired snacks infront of Panthanivas near BJB College Basketball Court. While at Market Building, the Ice Golas and Pav bhajji may not compete with the one at Mumbai and Delhi‘s India Gate and Kolkata‘s Victoria Memorial, but they are the bet available in Bhubaneswar. Also popular is the ghuguni at MB and piyaji at Unit IV.

Please do not feel bad and  suffocated by the mention of so much food. This is my humble attempt at a small crude food guide of Bhubaneswar for the new breed of food hunters. Though anyone who visits Orissa and especially Bhubaneswar knows that Bhaang Laced Chena Balls and boiled eggs are available at almost every street corner under the shady lamp post in the evenings. All these are small eat outs.

One also finds omnipresent- Chenapoda, aluchop (batata Vada/deep fired masala mashed potato dipped in besan), bara (plain salty doughnut looking type snack), ghuguni(pulse based thick gravy based curry), Singada (odia for Samosa), piyaji ( onion besan based deep-fried snack), and every Oriya outside Orissa admits to missing these non healthy oily but mouth watering snacks every evening.

But for class and continental, one has to visit Mainland China beside Vishals and Crown Hotel at Jaydev Vihar and Shanghai Express in front of Ram Mandir. In fact Shanghai Express has a smoking and liquor  section too. Hakka at Unit IV has mixed reviews while Embrosia at Gopabandhu Square has space constrain and is limited in its menu card, though its quality is good enough. There are a number of good hotels like Mayfair, Pal Heights, Swosti,Trident, Ginger and brands like Smokin Joe’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut and Cafe Coffee Day.

Lastly, Bapuji Nagar‘s Pratihari Mistaan Bhandar’s Rabidi, Nimapara Chena jhili, Bikalananda kar’s Rasogollas and Pahala’ sweets opened up franchise all over Bhubaneswar.But my personal Favourite remains Market Building Nirula’s Katthi Kulfi and Master CanteenVineet’s Kaju Barfi. Just like numerous lassi shops, of which Lingaraj lassi of Sahid Nagar boasted of fan followings.

Other than these, if you have come this far and not yet burped, I would end this hunt on a general note on an Odia’s love for Pakhal Bhata ( fermented water Rice with added flavours), Badhi chuna ( fine grounded badhi

laced with ginger and garlic), ambula rayi, chenchada, Alu baigan Bharta, Dalma ( No U dnt put Ma in Dal ;p), Sukua (salted dried Fish), santula (Dry Vegetable Stew with gravy),etc.

While one finds some interesting regionally famous items like Charu, Rasam, milk based Santula, ambula besara, and saddi (turmeric and Tamarind flavoured fried rice)and  ambila down south in Ganjam region, while mudi and desi chicken and mutton curry of Baripada is equally famous.

If now you feel nauseated by all these, please listen to my all time favourite lunch. Just visit any temple in the midday like the Maa Kali temple at Baramunda, and have a ghee based meal there. And if you are interested to feed me to the fullest, treat me to Ananta Vasudev Mandir or Puri Jagannath Mandir’s Abhada.

For readers forced by circumstance, to live outside Orissa, I do not mean to remind you of sweet good old days back home and make you nostalgic. For non Oriya s, do not puke here and please do not give me that exasperated annoying look, either. And for people in Orissa, I hope to help you in your hunt for good food.

  1. Suryakant says:

    When I was last in BBSR (2007) there used be this restaurant above Rohan’s Honda showroom. They served a killing Achari mutton.
    Try that one if you go around that place…

    • Saint Devil says:

      Sure will Buddy..may be nxt sunday.. but yeah, I remember having awesome Achari chicken n paneer at Picadilly in Rajouri, New Delhi.. Lets see if this is better..

  2. Helped revisit memories. Thank you.

  3. shabana95 says:

    hmm…good old days! 🙂
    I miss the gup chup at Kalpana chaka…me, smruti n sharmistha have had quite a few mouthfuls there…

  4. jagadisha says:

    what a delicious description… ur corrrect staying away, u can only read this and be in ur sweet memories. missing bbsr every moment… thnks a lot..:)

    • Saint Devil says:

      Dint mean 2 mek anyone nostalgic, and I myself hv lived out of state, so I kinda know how it feels 2 read such an article.. Hope you will enjoy the other pieces too..

  5. kaushik9002 says:

    What days were they. I remember you and me doubling on my cycle every evening to rabi bhai’s gupchup thela…even during the board exams.

    And those kachori chats at khatta meetha or dama maharaj…those days u used to be a ” VEGETARIAN”. Ha ha

    I really miss that when I try to gulp down a vaada paav here…

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