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Authentically Odia

This blog has written extensively about chefs who strive to maintain the authenticity of regional cuisines by relying on the same locally sourced ingredients that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. In this context, we have written about Chef Abbas Bhat who avers that Kashmiri food, in particular the legendary Wazwan dishes, can never be prepared without cold-pressed Mustard Oil. Likewise, we have written about Chef Manjit Gill, a towering figure on India’s culinary landscape. He believes that it is impossible to retain the authentic flavours of Punjabi and other north Indian cuisines without using generous amounts of Mustard Oil.

In today’s post we feature another chef who is passionate about preserving the authenticity of traditional cuisines from Odisha. His name is Chef Abinas Nayak. He recently shot to fame when he emerged as the winner of the sixth season of the well-known cooking reality show, MasterChef. Chef Nayak’s culinary training began very early – at home. That’s why his favourite food continues to be home-cooked meals. He learnt the art of cooking from his grandmother and his mother. They were sticklers for authenticity – and they were ardent users of Mustard Oil.

Chef Nayak believes that food, menus and traditional cuisines can be sustainable only when the ingredients are sourced from the region in which they are being prepared. That’s the way it has been for thousands of years. In recreating the traditional flavours of Odisha, Chef Nayak is emphatic about the use of Mustard Oil. He points out that the authentic flavour of Odia cuisine cannot be created using refined or other oils. Mustard Oil is a must!

To demonstrate the power and popularity of Odia cuisine, the dish that Chef Nayak loves to make is Chicken Besara – a preparation of chicken in rich, thick and delicious mustard gravy. This is, in fact, his signature dish. And it calls for the warmth, aroma and subtle pungency of cold-pressed Mustard Oil. Any other cooking medium will just not work.

So when it comes to authenticity, listen to Chef Nayak. After all, he is a Master Chef who knows his Mustard Oil inside and out. Always trust the specialist!

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