Pakhal, also spelt as Pakhaal, is an Oriya dish that is made by fermenting rice in water, which is then mixed with curd and lemon juice and sautéed with roasted cumin seed powder. This dish is popular in the eastern part of India in the states of Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Known to prevent heat stroke, the Pakhal recipe is common in most Oriya households. Cucumber, fried onions and mint are also added to the dish, which help in enhancing the flavor. Roasted vegetables such as potato, brinjal, saga bhaja, badi and fried fish are usually served with Pakhal.
Origin of Pakhal Recipe
Pakhal originates from Orissa in India. This rice dish is considered common man’s food as it is made with some very basic ingredients that are easily available. The first known Pakhal recipe was officially recorded during East India time, in their daily diet. However, the dish has been part of the daily offering at Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri, which was built in the 10th century AD. Though, the dish originated in Orissa, the recipe is now popular in Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of Myanmar. Today, a lot of Five Star Hotels in Bhubaneswar have also included Pakhal.
Preparation of Pakhal
Pakhal is a watery and starchy rice dish. Rice is cooked and set aside to cool (it is important to ensure the rice is not frozen though). Curd, coriander, salt and roasted cumin seed powder are added to the rice and mixed well ensuring that the consistency of the dish is watery. However, traditionally, cooked rice used to be fermented overnight for about 8 to 12 hours and then seasoned with roasted cumin powder, salt and coriander. Fried fish, spinach, roasted potatoes and other roasted vegetables are usually served with Pakhal.
Popular Cuisines that Include Pakhal Recipe
Pakhal is popular in almost all the Eastern and North Eastern cuisines of India, but the name differs with each cuisine. In West Bengal and Bangladesh, the Pakhal recipe is known as Panta Bhat or Pani Bhat. In Chhattisgarh it is called Pakhal Bhat or Bore Bhat, while it is called Pakhal in Jharkhand. In Assam, Poita Bhat is the term used for the Pakhal recipe.
Pakhal Recipe Trivia
Pakhal has been a poor man’s dish for a long time; however, in recent times it has been given the status of ethnic foods of Orissa, by the Tourism Department.