Odisha Celebrates Dahi Bara Aloo Dum Dibasa

Dhenkanal ra Biri Bara, khaiba thare bhai !
Kataka ra Dahi Bara, pasori jiba nahin !!

Do you remember these lines from the iconic Odia song ‘Asa kiye khaiba ho” from Odia movie Akhi Trutiya (1978). It’s one of the few Odia songs dedicated to Odia cuisine. And, the mere mention of Biri Bara and Dahi Bara among other Odia delicacies, prompted it to be featured here in this article for obvious reason since Odisha celebrated its maiden Dahi Bara Aloo Dum Dibasa on 1st March recently.

One of the promotional campaign in social media*

The concept of observing Dahi Bara Aloo Dum Dibasa on the lines of Pakhala Dibasa (20th March) & Rasagola Dibasa (Niladri  Bije day) the brainchild of two hardcore guys – Vishwajeet Das from Bhubaneswar , founder of motovlogging channel in YouTube by the name ‘JustVish’ & Rohit Srivastava, founder of Foodfindo, a food community from Cuttack. They came up a unique campaign with official hashtags like #DahibaraAlooDumDibasa  & #AlooDumDahibaraDibasa to be heavily promoted in the social media platform on individual levels. The hashtag wording was kept as authentic Odia to maintain its ethnic feel. The reason for choosing the day as March 1st was obvious – the advent of summer season & this day is quite easy to remember & recall. This time the campaign is limited to social media only just for awareness among foodies & fans of Dahi Bara. Next year, the plan is to connect with the Dahi Bara sellers.

The intention was to give credit to the people who have in for generations been in the business of serving this delicacy called Dahi Bara Aloo Dum. The social media pages were flooded with images of foodies Dahi Bara Aloo Dum plates either made at home or purchased from street stalls. Although the campaign was started in cities of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar by the Odia foodies community, but it has surpassed the boundaries of Odisha & Odias and social media played a powerful role in popularising the campaign. Even oversea Odias were noticed celebrating this day by sharing catchy images of Dahi Bara Aloo Dum prepared by them. As per Rohit Srivastava – if there is one dish that can ignite more emotions than any other dish in Odisha, then its Dahi Bara Aloo Dum. This one dish can bring people closer, communities closer and can make foodies happy. The ground rules were kept simple & more emphasis were given on experience sharing among all so that by next year, it will be more stronger.

Aloo Dum Dahi Bara is undoubtedly the favourite snack of Odisha which can be consumed at any time of the day, be it during breakfast time, lunch time, evening snacks time or even dinner time. Dahi Bara is just Bara made from urad daal & soaked overnight in curd water where as Aloo Dum (Dum Aloo in Odia) is the spicy gravy curry made from potatoes. And, when these two are served in jugalbandi, it makes one feel  heavenly while gulping it. However, there is no documented origin of the dish Dahi Bara Aloo Dum in Odisha. Since, Cuttack was the trading capital of Odisha, there are many communities and from this confluence of culture, many new food varieties gets evolved and Dahi Bara Aloo Dum might be the outcome of it since the business communities like Sindhis, Gujaratis, Marwaris all are comfortable with their style of making & consuming Dahi Vada & Aloo Dum, but separately. It’s also said to be developed around Bidanasi (old Cuttack), the vendors who were selling near Barabati Fort. One of the vendor who was selling Dahi Bara & Dum Aloo separately, tried by mixing and making it into one as a supplement & it clicked. Legend Raghu Dahi Bara is an outcome of this gharana who is from Bidanasi & initially was selling near Barabati, but later on shifted his stall to Bindanasi chowk ;). As already shared, there are basically two types of Dahi Bara in Cuttack – one simple Bidanasi type without any toppings & the other layered one sold in rest of Cuttack. March 1st was zeroed on as the day for celebration since summer arrives by this time in Odisha & people looks for lassi, pakhala, butter milk, curd, sharbat type items. And, what could be better than Dahi Bara with its butter milk acting as coolant to body. Moreover, it’s quite easy to remember & recall a date like March 1st.

Raghu Mausa stall getting set up in evening

Hot spots in Bhubaneswar selling Dahi Bara Aloo Dum includes Prasant Sahoo’s (Mitu Bhai) stall near Rabindra Medical Hall & Ajaya Sahoo’s stall near Yes Bank, both at Bapuji Nagar, near Reliance Fresh at ID market (near Reliance Fresh), near DAV School Unit 8 (new apartment), Trinath Dahi Bara at 100 feet Road near Jagamara etc. Cuttack has a long list of hangouts made short – Ishwar Behera (Biju Patnaik Chowk), Raghu Mausa (Bidanasi), Purnia (Bidanasi), Kathi Bhai (Gouri Shankar Park), Bhagi (Mission Road), stalls near Barabati Stadium, Trinath Dahi Bara (Kanika Chowk) etc. When it comes to Dahi Bara Aloo Dum, Cuttack has edge over Bhubnaeswar in terms of taste & popularity , but Bhubaneswar is soon picking up.

These are all about street cart sellers. Even restaurants have been serving Dahi Baras for decades. During the 90s, majorly North Indian snack shops/restaurants in Bhubaneswar like Dama Maharaj (Unit- III) selling plain Dahi Bara with meetha chutney. There is no written data who introduced the street business of Dahi Bara Aloo Dum in Bhubanesawar, but two Mausas (old man) were noticed selling Dahi Bara Aloo Dum. One was noticed opposite Governor House (towards Ganga Nagar) with a red shirt as branding & another one at Bapuji Nagar’s 1st lane. Gradually, Dahi Bada trend clicked & the vendors started using Red shirts as trademarks for Dahi Barawalas, inspired from the Governor House mausa’s branding. Now there is a specific association in Bhubaneswar, by the name Bhubaneswar Dahi Bara Byabasayi Mahasangha (BDBBM) with over 320 as members as per unconfirmed information. If we count the non-members, it will be another 300 or more, each occupying their designated streets & even highways and doing business as per different timings & taste. Surprisingly, many vendors are originally from areas like Bayalish Mouza in Cuttack & Begunia in Khurda, majorly from Gudia community with Sahoo surnames. Even some vendor commutes from their villages nearby to cities for daily brisk business.

Dahi Bara Aloo Dum served in eco-friendly leaves. Notice the red shirt as trademark 🙂

Dahi Bara business is providing livelihood for many. Gradually, the sellers are opting for hygienic way of carrying business which is a good sign. Recently, when the ban on use of plastic was imposed, the street food sellers including  Dahi Barawalas were at the receiving end, but they wholeheartedly supported the ban & opted for more eco-friendly way, but we need to support them by carrying our own container for parcel. Hope, Dahibara Aloo Dum Dibasa to be more popular in coming years & turn truly global & in turn help this community to grow & serve us better !!

Happy #DahibaraAlooDumDibasa !
Happy #AlooDumDahibaraDibasa !!

All images © 2012-2019 Taranisen Pattnaik except * by Rohit Srivastava
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About Tarani Trotter

I'm Taranisen Pattnaik, originally from Aska (Ganjam). I grew up in the capital city of Odisha – Bhubaneswar. An MBA by qualification, an Accountant by profession, but a freelancer by interest with phillumeny (matchbox collection) as my hobby. I like going to places, meeting new people & capturing the moments through my camera which helps me in my storytelling.

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