Oriya Cuisine is not very well-known to most people and very little is known about it outside of India. Located on the eastern coast of India, Orissa is one of India’s most picturesque states. Oriya food is usually characterized as delicate and mildly spiced. Local ingredients and fresh seasonal produce – especially, are a large part of the typical Oriya diet. Ghanta Tarkari is a delicious vegetarian dish where “ghanta” means mixed and “tarkari” means curry – so basically Oriya Mixed Vegetable Curry. Traditionally, this dish is made with typical Indian vegetables -many of which are hard to find outside or India or are just not available year round, so just feel free to use your favorite vegetables for this dish. Personally, I love to use local & seasonal vegetables whenever I make this dish.
Try to choose vegetables that will hold up to the cooking process and not fall apart or break down completely. Also, try to cut all of the vegetables roughly about the same size – so they will cook evenly. You can also add your favorite combination of dals, beans or lentils to the dish.
Now at first glance, this may seem like a long ingredient list and a lengthy process but do not be discouraged – this dish is totally worth the extra little effort ☺.
GHANTA TARKARI (Oriya Mixed Vegetable Curry)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1˝” piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
˝ cup toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas or arhar dal)
1 medium potato, peeled & diced
1 medium sweet potato (or yam), peeled & diced
1 large carrot, peeled & diced
5-6 brown cremini or white button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending upon their size
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 cup green beans, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup small cauliflower florets
˝ cup red bell pepper or you can use any color of bell pepper
˝ cup daikon radish (mooli)
˝ cup green peas (frozen is fine) or edamame
˝ cup baby corn, cut into bite size pieces
˝ tsp black mustard seeds
˝ tsp cumin seeds
2-3 dried red chilies, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 tsp ground cumin powder
˝ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
˝ cup chickpeas (canned is fine but drain & rinse well before use)
˝ cup freshly grated coconut (or you can use coconut milk)
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Using a small blender or food processor, grind the onion along with the ginger and garlic into a fine paste using a little water as needed to help with the blending process. Set aside until needed.
Next, cook the toor dal. In a small soup pot on high heat, add 1 cup of water along with the toor dal. Bring to a good boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook until the dal is tender but not mushy (about 12-15 minutes or so). Alternatively, you could cook the dal in a pressure cooker if you wish.
For faster results, you can either steam or microwave all the vegetables (except the tomato) together for 2-3 minutes so they are already partially pre-cooked.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the mustard seeds. When the splattering subsides, add the cumin seeds and the dried red chilies. Now add the ground onion/ginger/garlic paste and stir well. Let cook until the onions are golden brown and then add the bay leaves along with the rest of the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, red chili powder, salt & pepper). Let the spices cook for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, chickpeas and cooked toor dal along with any of its cooking liquid. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients and let cook for 3-4 minutes before adding in all of the vegetables and coconut. Stir well and then cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with fresh rotis and fragrant Basmati rice.