Paddy being the principal crop of Orissa, Rice is naturally the staple food of the people. Wheat, though not grown in plenty, has the privilege of being the second. Side dishes are prepared from a variety of pulses and vegetables like Brinjal, pumpkin, gourd, colocasia, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, papaya, beans, lady’s finger etc and a number of leaf vegetables and roots.
A traditional Oriya meal, generally spicy, consists of Rice, Dal, vegetable curry, vegetable fry, leaf vegetable, khata (sour dish), chutney, pickle etc. There is also a plate of salad with onion, cucumber, tomato, ginger, lemon or curd. On ceremonial occasions, the number and variety of items increase.
Oriya people also like to consume Pakhal, which is basically cooked rice soaked in water, overnight. One of the typical dishes of Orissa is Dalma which is a mix of Dal and vegetables. When this is served with rice, many of the items are deleted from the menu. Dalma is considered as an energy booster and popular due to its ample nutritional value. Among people of Orissa, another famous food is Besara which is cooked with assorted vegetables and stirred and fried in Panch Phutana, spices and oil. Among other delicious dishes Bhendi Bhaja, Aalu palak saag , Kadali Bhaja, Dahi Baingan are notable.
Oriya meal is not served by courses. All the dishes are served at a time after which only eating starts. While the main dish is served on a large plate (Thali), other dishes are placed around it in small bowls and plates. Sometimes, especially on festive occasions, the meal is served on banana leaf.
Another special preparation of the state is the food offered to the gods in the temples which are not only strictly vegetarian but also without onion and garlic. Even some of the vegetables like potato, tomato etc also not allowed. Traditional vegetarian cuisine can be enjoyed at kitchens of Lingaraj and Ananta Basudev temples.