Pakhala Bhata is a beloved dish among the Odia people, who have been relishing it for generations. It is a unique preparation of cooked rice soaked in water and partially fermented to bring out its natural flavors and nutritional benefits. This dish is consumed almost everyday in Odia households, but especially popular during the hot summer months.
In Odisha, a special form of “Rice water” is known as “Pakhala Bhata”. You can get different variations of pakhala. It is easy to prepare and healthy too. Pakhala Bhata stands out for its simplicity and versatility. There are several variations of this dish, each with its own taste and preparation process. Some people like to add curd or yogurt to the dish, while others prefer a basic version only with a pinch of salt.
In this article, I will share the traditional method of making Pakhala Bhata along with some tips and tricks. In this article we will discuss everything about the preparation of pakhala recipe, the health benefits of pakhala, importance of pakhala in Odia cuisine, significance of pakhala dibasa etc. So join our journey and discover the unique flavors and textures of Pakhala Bhata.
Why is Pakhala Bhata famous in Odisha?
Pakhala Bhata is a traditional Odisha Food. This is made by soaking cooked rice in water and allowing it to ferment overnight. The fermented rice is served with a variety of side dishes.
Pakhala Bhata is a popular everyday meal in Odia kitchens, mainly required during the hot Summer months when people look for refreshing and cooling foods to combat the heat. The dish is also considered to be a healthy and nutritious meal. Pakhala is rich in probiotics and has a cooling effect on the body.
Pakhala is not only appreciated among people but also offered to Lord Jagannath. Four different types of Pakhala are offered to Mahaprabhu from madhyana dhupa to bada singhara besa. It is believed that Lord Jagannath loves to eat Pakhala Bhata everyday. You will find the same reflection in Odisha culture and food. That’s why it is also the absolute favorite of every Odia. Lord Jagannth is offered Pakhala with ghee. Besides this ‘Tabha Pakhala’, ‘Malli Phulia Pakhala’, ‘Subasita Pakhala’ are also offered to the Holy Trinity for a good sleep.
What are the benefits of Pakhala Bhata?
- Promotes hydration: Pakhala helps to stay hydrated. The fermented water helps to quench thirst and rehydrate the body.
- Improves digestion: The fermentation process of pakhala helps to break down complex carbohydrates and proteins, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb nutrients.
- Provides probiotics: During the fermentation process beneficial bacterias are produced that can improve gut health and boost immunity.
- Offers a cooling effect: Pakhala is a popular dish in the hot Summer months because it provides a cooling effect to the body. It also helps to lower body temperature and prevent heat stroke.
Overall, pakhala can be a healthy and nutritious addition to a balanced diet.
What are the types of Pakhala?
There are different types of Pakhala based on the ingredients used to flavor the dish. Some of the popular types of Pakhala are:
- Basi Pakhala: This is the most basic and popular form of Pakhala, where cooked rice is soaked with water in an earthen pot overnight to allow it to ferment. It is typically eaten with salt, green chili, and roasted vegetables.
- Saja Pakhala: It is prepared by adding water instantly after making freshly cooked rice with drops of lemon in it. This variant doesn’t need fermentation.
- Dahi Pakhala: It is prepared by adding curd and salt to the pakhaḷa.
- Sugandhi Pakhala or Subasa Pakhala: It is prepared by adding chopped or grated ginger and roasted cumin seeds to cooked rice submerged in salty water which gives an aroma to the pakhala.
- Chupuda Pakhala (squeezed Pakhala): This is prepared by squeezing out the cooked rice washed in water and served with curd, roasted cumin, and salt.
- Mitha Pakhala (sweet pakhala): It is prepared by adding sugar or jaggery to cooked rice and water along with roasted cumin. It is an unusual variation and not popular compared to popular fresh pakhala.
- Tabhaa Pakhala: This is prepared by adding lemon water to the cooked rice.
- Ghia Pakhala: This is prepared by adding ghee to the cooked rice.
- Malliphula Pakhala: It is prepared by adding malli flowers(jasmine) to the cooked rice for aroma.
- Chunka Pakhala: To prepare this pakhala a tempering of mustard, dry chili, and curry leaves are added to the freshly cooked rice along with curd and salt.
What are the side dishes to serve with Pakhala Bhata?
Here are some common pakhala side dishes:
- Badichura: Crispy and savory fritter made from black gram dal and spices. It is often served as a side dish with pakhala.
- Kanji: It is a traditional Odia drink made from fermented rice and water. It is slightly sour and is believed to aid digestion. It is often served as a refreshing beverage with pakhala.
- Aloo chutney: It is a spicy potato chutney made with boiled potatoes, onions, garlic, and various spices. It is a flavorful accompaniment to pakhala bhata.
- Baigana bharta: A popular dish made from roasted eggplants mashed with onions, garlic, and spices. It is a flavorful and creamy side dish that goes well with pakhala.
- Saga bhaja: This is a simple yet delicious side dish made from fried green leaves. You can use any type of saag like spinach, Malabar spinach, amaranthus or drumstick leaves for this recipe. This saga bhaja pairs well with pakhala bhata.
- Chingudi bhaja: Crispy and flavorful shrimp fry made with shrimp, ginger garlic paste, onion, and spices. It is a popular side dish that goes well with pakhala.
- Macha bhaja: Fish made with mustard oil, ginger garlic paste, and spices made it more flavourful which elevates the taste with pakhala bhata.
What is the Significance of Pakhala Dibasa?
Earlier, Pakhala was considered to be the food of the poor and underprivileged. However, hotels and restaurants including the star hotels have now included it in their menu and commercialized it to attract a global audience, who love to taste Odia cuisine.
Three types of Pakhalas are served to Lord Jagannath such as Tabha Pakhala is served during Sakala Dhupa, Mitha Pakhala during Madhyana Dhupa while the Subhasha Pakhala is given during Sandhya Dhupa.
Pakhala Dibasa is celebrated to show the simple lifestyle of Odisha people, who traditionally ate pakhala for generations to lower heat during hot days. On Pakhala Dibasa Odisha people prepare a variety of pakhala in large quantities and share it with their family, friends, and neighbors. The festival is also an opportunity to promote the traditional Odisha food culture and to encourage people to adopt healthier and sustainable food practices.
Pakhala Dibasa is celebrated on March 20 every year. Pakhala Divas has gained popularity in recent years and is now celebrated not only in Odisha but also in other parts of the country and even abroad.
Pakhala Bhata is a popular dish among the Odia people, especially during the hot Summer months. The dish comes in different varieties, each with its unique taste and method of preparation.
Rice – 1 bowl
Curd – 1 cup
Salt to taste
Grated Ginger – 1 tsp
Mustard Seed – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 5 to 7
Dry chili – 2
Oil – 1 tbsp
- Saja Pakhala: Cool down the cooked rice to room temperature and pour fresh water into the cooked rice. Add a pinch of salt and serve immediately.
- Basi Pakhala – Prepare Saja Pakhala as mentioned above and leave the cooked rice soaked in water, in an earthen pot overnight. The rice will ferment partially, resulting in a slightly sour and sweet taste. Add a pinch of salt before serving.
- Dahi Pakhala – Add plain curd to the Saja Pakhala prepared from freshly cooked rice to get a sour taste without fermentation of the rice along with salt.
- Chunka Dia Pakhala – This variation involves Saja or Basi Pakhala with “tempering”. To prepare the tempering, heat a pinch of oil on a pan. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dry red chili. Saute the ingredients and add them to the Pakhala bowl. Add grated ginger along with curd and salt to the pakhala bowl.
- You can prepare any pakhala bhata according to your choice.
- Use raw or boiled rice to prepare the pakhala bhata recipe.
- Avoid using basmati or any scented rice to make Pakhala recipe.
- Use an earthen pot to make fermented rice (Basi Pakhala)which gives an earthy smell to the Pakhala recipe.