Puri, the name itself opens the floodgate of nostalgia in a bong’s mind. Probably, the first tour with parents, the first sea, the first crush with the girl in the conducted tour- khaja, anything….. and everything. I frankly, do not want to elaborate anything on the sight-seeing and visuals in Puri- much better writers have written about it a lot of times. But, what I want to write about here is the food scenario in puri. Probably, all the bengalis have been to puri- at least once. But, till date, very few people can write about a good khaja place, a good chhenapoda place or Oriya cuisine in particular. This piece is a modest attempt on the same.
Puri is known for 2 edible items in particular. One is khaja and another one is Chhenapoda. In khaja the flour with ground sugar is made in layered dough and fried in low temperature to retain the color. Its really, really good in puri. Once, you’re in puri, almost all the sweet shops sell this dessert, but few make it good.
One of the most popular places in Puri is the “Kakatuar dokan ( কাকাতুয়া র দোকান ). Though it’s probably one of the most visited shops in Puri, but over a period of time, quality has gone down drastically .
But, I personally found them to be quite dry and not upto the mark. This time, with the help of our priest and the auto driver (they are the official tourist transport in puri), we’ve reached a place called Khaja-patty (খাজা- পট্টি ). there is the local khaja shops are located and hardly any tourist goes there. Its near the southern-gate of the jagannath-temple ( দক্ষিণ – দুয়ার ). Once you reach that place, there are at-least 20 khaja shops on both sides of the narrow road (be sure to go by an auto and not a car). In that lane, you’ll find a small shop with tremendous rush called Narsimha’s sweet shop. Hit that one and you won’t be disappointed. Words of caution: they run out of the khaja pretty soon. So, we had to make a booking with advance amount and come back in the afternoon even. But, just the next shop to Narsimha’s is a name-less sweet shop (the right-sided photo). It gave us a wonderful kheer and Rasmalai. They claimed to make a good chhenapoda even, but we’ll come to the best on that one shortly. So, enjoy and khaja and Rasmalai…… Chhenapoda is next.
For the chhenapoda, we enquired again with the locals and it seemed all roads lead to place near the jagannath temple. We reached the temple and the enquiry again took us to the opposite lane to the temple main entrance. We walked around 5 min and reached a nameless shop where only 3-4 items are made and chhenapoda is one of them. Now, one may ask, what’s the fuss about chhenapoda and why is it getting so much footage ? Chhenapoda is burnt cottage cheese cake in oriya cuisine. And its the only well known Indian dessert whose flavor is predominantly derived from the caramelization of sugar.
The shop is run by one single person named Murari hailing from Berhapmore, who acts as the cook, server and takes care of the billing. He’s a 2nd gen cook and a pretty good one at that. The menu items consists of milk, Kheer, Malai and Chhenapoda. And, the shop is anytime flocked by customers and they’re made to stand in a queue to get the items.
This place is next to an ATM and that’s the only landmark that I could gather. But enter the lane opposite to temple main entrance and ask anyone for a good chhenapoda shop- you’ll be guided here. On the way around, we had the famous Oriya Lassi and jilebi/samosa from road-side shops. They were pretty decent price-wise.
Journey to this place will be worth your time and energy, I promise. The chhenapoda is brilliant and freshly made. They make it around 615-630 PM and mostly gets over by 730-8 PM. Go for it. You won’t be disappointed.
Apart from this, Oriya cuisine is pretty rich in terms of non-veg items also and they make it quite good. We visited the only Oriya-cuisine-restaurant in Orissa – Dalma and was not disappointed. Details about their locations can be found in http://www.dalmahotels.in/ . They basically use fish but, prawn, crab and meat was quite good. The chain is present in Puri and having 3 outlets in Bhubaneswar. Apart from it, they’ve got quite a few outlets on a pan-India basis. There, I would suggest everyone, to go for the veg thali and suggest non-veg items separately.
Ambience-wise, they have AC in all of their outlets and its basically a quick-service restaurant with no-frills. The service is extremely quick and very reasonably priced. Per head cost should not go beyond 300/- for a heavy eater.
So, happy Puri trip … Jai Jagannath !!! And don;t forget to get some Khaja for me as well… LOL
Bon apetite !!!
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