By Srikanta Mohanty: “Among the dishes on the dining-table, ‘pakhala tatia’ (the filled-up bowl of rice with water) is the catchiest thing to the eyes of every visitor to my household. Eyes also glisten, when they see every other small food-item near the bowl. Badichura, mango sauce, fried small fishes are some of the other delicacies that make us simply devour the meal. For the last five years, people in Odisha celebrate ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ on March 20 to glorify the delicacy.
Although, this dish comes at a minimal price, it enjoys the highest popularity in the entire Odisha” – says Mili Kara- a housewife in old-town area of Bhubaneswar, while marking the #PakhalaDibasa.
The evolution of this great food-item is simply untraceable. The mention of this item goes down the ages. The great Odia literature of the pristine statehood has the mention of it. Especially at a time, when families lived in utter penury, stale cooked rice was kept inside the bowel for days and it was the staple food-item that brought the sigh of relief from the pangs of hunger and sleep to the weary eyes.
“The all-time popular novels of great writers like Fakir Mohan Senapati , Gopinath Mohanty, and Surendra Mohanty have vivid description about pakhala in their novels. As a food habit, this food was traditionally present. It was the depressing sight of poverty that linked Odisha to this food item. Movies, short stories, fictions, and even the lectures in the Odia literature classes had given place to this food-item in the Odia households”-narrates Sai smita Pattnaik- a pass-out in Odia literature from Utkal University and voracious reader of Odia literature.
As abysmal poverty and simple living are only bygones, this food- item stands completely transformed now-a-days with the increase of riches in the society. Pakhala is now poised to take a prominent place in the menus of leading restaurants of Odisha. Fresh cooked rice in water with curd and with the traditional vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries, pickles, and condiments has appeared as the top choice of millions of Odias.
With the changing life-styles and food habits of millions of Odias, this food-item has now gone to the world platform. Thousands of Odias working all over the world has not lost appetite for this food that could give them a night of deep sleep after a strenuous schedule of work.
Although, sleep inducing quality of pakhala is considered as the flip side, the food has its millions of fans, who praise it because it gives them break from excess stress in their daily routines. Moreover, it remains a very simple task to prepare it without any chance of adulteration. In an age, where eating junks in the fast-food restaurants has become the regular feature of life, consequent health hazards created an opinion in favor of this food as it relatively casts no problem on the health of the eaters.
Curd mixed water from the food soothes the stomach without bringing any harmful effect. As these days, hyper-tension and digestive disorders have become common, eating a bowlful of it gives relief to both the problems, while the other side of the truth is excess and regular eating of it brings obesity and sloth.