The Cult of DahiBara AlooDum
Dahibara Aloodum Dibasa (1st of March)1st of March, 2019 will be commemorated as the first ever World Dahibara AlooDum Dibasa(also reffered as AlooDum DahiBara Dibasa) by people of Odisha. People from all over the world are expected to come together to celebrate this legendary snack of the Odia people. There are very few culinary masterpieces that enjoy a cult following like that of this delicate delicacy from Odisha. Though it appears evident from its name, there is more to this dish than just a perfect marriage between two standalone delicacies Dum Aloo and Dahi Vada.
What is Dahibara AlooDum?The yin and yang of this delicacy are Dahibara which is Vada soaked in a thin consistency of curd with spices/buttermilk and AlooDum which is Odia version of Dum Aloo, a thick gravy of slow cooked potatoes. The marriage of these two delicacies happen just before they are served for consumption. The authentic method of serving is by making a bowl out of the khalli patra (Bahunia Vahlii leaf), placing few DahiBaras in the bowl and then adding dollops the thick AlooDum gravy. There is also the Guguni(white peas curry) that is added by the spoonfuls however it is the underdog of the story and finally it is garnished with coriander, chopped onions and bhujia sev. The molecular magic that happens when these two are mixed together and the outcome is a delicacy that transcends generations and evokes pure nostalgia of our "pila dina" (childhood). If you noticed I have not mentioned much about the recipe as it is a closely guarded secret and even professional chefs find a hard time getting it just right however if you are looking for the recipe Google would throw some relevant options at you.
Origins of the Delicacy.
The exact origins are not known however it is believed to have been developed around the Bidanasi area and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack. There are a couple of legends that surround the origin of DahiBara AlooDum. One such story is about a tiffin centre in Cuttack that used to sell Puri and AlooDum to the travellers coming from Howrah towards Cuttack. In the absence of Puri, the shop keeper alternatively serves DahiBara with AlooDum giving birth to the first iteration of the delicacy we know and celebrate. Ishwar Behara, one of the living legends of this delicacy, who is now in his 70s, states that he learnt his craft of making DahiBara AlooDum from his erstwhile gurus in Bidanasi area. He states that the collective memory of the origin of this delicacy dates atleast over a century. Likewise another 80 something legend Raghu is known to have learnt his craft from his forefathers. There is also a theory that the traders community of Cuttack comprising mostly of Marwaris, Punjabis and Gujrati have both Dahi Vadas and Dum Aloo as a part of their cuisines and another legend has it that a Cuttacki accidentally mixed both giving birth to the legendary DahiBara AlooDum. Both these claims are debatable as I was not able to find recorded history of the origin of DahiBara AlooDum. The cultural influence of the various regions of Odisha has played a pivotal role in developing the taste of Dahibara AlooDum over many decades. For instance the distinctive taste of Dahibara AlooDum in Cuttack can never be replicated outside the realms of the city however the recipe has travelled throughout that State of Odisha (and beyond) and has evolved to appeal to the taste buds of the region it now resides in.
Why does DahiBara AlooDum have such a cult following ?
This delicacy is an almost perfect meal, it has carbohydrates in the form of potatoes, the vadas are made from lentils which are a rich source of proteins and the curd/yogurt is a source of lactobacillus probiotics. There are spices used like cinnamon, pepper etc which contribute towards its health benefits. Lastly the Dahi paani of the Dahibara is a source of hydration for the people of Odisha during the hot summer months. The twang of the Dahibara and spice of the Aloodum are a few contributing factors for Odisha's insatiable appetite for this delicacy. Like me, everyone of us would know someone who could have DahiBara AlooDum for all 3 meals a day. It is probably this attribute of can-be-eaten anytime gives the DahiBara AlooDum its legendary cult following.
Why 1st of March is celebrated as the Dibasa(Diwas)?By the time the calendar turns to March 1st, the winter bliss has receded and the summer sun is right around the corner. It is around this time of the year that the people in Odisha start looking for cuisines which have a cooling effect on mind, body and soul. It is natural for people to gravitate towards curd/yogurt based delicacies for its cooling effect hence DahiBara AlooDum and Pakhala stand out as saviours from the summer heat. The date 1st of March slots in perfectly due to the transitional weather and hence has be chosen to celebrate this Dibasa.
Two years after the viral video of AlooDum DahiBara Legends of Cuttack on YouTube when I decided to make a tribute to celebrate the cult following of this legendary delicacy, I reached out to Rohit Srivastava from FoodFindo to capture a video story on it.
Brooding over the topic we bounced the idea on our audience asking people if they would be interested in commemorating a Dahibara Aloodum Dibasa. The objective was to choose that one day in a year where foodies from the world over could come together to celebrate DahiBara AlooDum and thank the legends who have been making this delicacy for decades. With an overwhelming fanfare from the cult following, March 1st, 2019 was hence declared as the first ever World DahiBara AlooDum Dibasa. Our gang and fellow creators HungerPanks, Chef Rachit, Oh.Delicious.Cuttack and Harsh jumped onto the bandwagon and ran with the idea. This revolution captivated imagination of thousands around the world and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has joined hands with us to "share our happiness". We are asking people on March 01, to grab a plate of DahiBaraAlooDum and take a picture and share it with the world using our Official Hashtags #dahibaraaloodumdibasa and #aloodumdahibaradibasa
The above pic dates to 25th December, 2010 when the then unknown JustVish and HungerPanks are seen sharing a bowl of pure Happiness.