Like the other sweetmeats in Odia households, ‘Kora khai’ has a special mention especially as an offering in the temples. Popular at famous Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar as a special offering to Lord Shiva, the sweet item has traditionally been placed as one of the most favourite ones among other sweets. Odias living across the country and the globe prefer to have this item in the familiar traditional packing.
Prepared from four basic ingredients like Khai, jaggery or sugar, coconut, and cardamom, this sweet item kept its unbeatable but mouth-watering flavor in comparison to every other item in Odia cuisines. Although traditionally acclaimed as a great food item, the sweet offering to God is now caught in a time warp.
“The tasteful Kora khai has now passed unto the hands of unscrupulous people resulting in great loss of its earlier quality. Competition and availability of other sweet items have hampered its sale to a great extent. Although, you find a number of shops selling this item in the proximity of Lingaraj Temple, only a few shops selling this have the original taste”-says Annirudh Sen, who hails from Kolkata but makes sure to carry it home during his every visit to the temple city.
Among the shops selling Kora khai, Baya Baba Kora Khai in old town area of Bhubaneswar is mostly reputed for its quality. Tourists coming from every part of the state and India make it a point to buy from this shop. The buyers often state right kind of caramelization is the reason behind the good taste of Baya baba kora khai.
Caramelization of other ingredients with Sugar or Jaggery is the most important part in the process of itspreparation for this sweet item. Often cheaper quality of jaggery gives this item inferiority in taste. AsCompetition in the market is growing, sellers in the market get compelled to compromise with the quality of raw-material in the sweetmeat. “Apart from the taste, it also depends on the individual choice.
See, the traditional Odia rasoi is having innumerable items especially in sweet category. Rasgulla, Chennapoda, and Gulab jamoon are the items the buyers are most preemptive about. The hard texture of kora khai is something not palatable to the people, who like the spongy sweet-balls of the other sweets. Your teeth need to have strength. Else, you would find it tough to bite off a piece from kora khai. In my opinion, it is the hardest in the range of all available sweet items.
To add to it, this sweet item is also sticky. Unlike other sweet items, it does not melt in your mouth easily. Once you bite off a piece from it, broken pieces stick to your teeth till you push those off from the gap between your teeth. For this, children as well as aged people avoid this, although it has a great taste”-explains Radhika Kar- a woman in her thirties from old town of Bhubaneswar, who gave up eating this sweet item despite its great flavor as the her dentist advised her to do so.