A Dying Flavour of Western Odisha

Sarsatia, a sweet delicacy that was a part of every household in Sambalpur till a few decades back, has today become a rarity. Blame it on the dwindling green cover. Today, only three sweetmeat shops in Sambalpur prepare Sarsatia which resembles vermicelli and is mildly sweet and crisp.
The base of the sweet is prepared from resin of twigs of a tree locally called ‘Ganjer’. A batter is made by mixing the resin with water, powder of raw rice (Arua) and sugar. The batter is fried in the shape of vermicelli.
Twigs of Ganjer tree are collected from Barapahad hill range. Sources said the decreasing number of Ganjer trees in the hill range has taken a toll on collection of the resin. Earlier a bundle of Ganjer twigs used to cost around `100 but today, it costs between `400 and `500. This has also led to price rise of the sweet. The resin is collected between the months of October and March when due to dew, the twigs ooze the resin. Bark of the twigs are then peeled and fermented in water for five days. The resin gets dissolved in water after which it is strained.

Pic by Ritu Pattnaik

Narendra Nath Sahu, owner of Sahu Sweets that is more popular as shop of Dina Gudia in Jhaduapada, is one of the three sweetmeat makers who prepare Sarsatia here. “My late grandfather Dinabandhu Sahu and his family started making Sarsatia 120 years back. He had learnt the recipe from a couple Jagat Janani and Sushil Mishra of Jhaduapada. My recipe was passed on to my father Krushna Sahu,” said Narendra. After frying, the vermicelli bundles weighing between 75 gm and 100 gm are sold at `eight to `10 per bundle. Narendra said the trick of making perfect Sarsatia lies in extraction of the resin and only Arua rice that has been powdered using a ‘Dhenki’ (locally made wood crusher) is used in the batter. “It gives a distinct flavour to the Sarsatia that can be had with Kheer, milk or even mutton curry,” he said.
In villages located in forested areas of the district, Ganjer flowers are used to make pancakes. Sources said flower buds of Ganjer tree are collected. After cleaning, the petals are opened and a batter of Arua rice powder, whole groundnut seeds and jaggery is kept in each of them and the petals are sealed and steamed. The base of the sweet is prepared from resin of twigs of a tree locally called ‘Ganjer’. A batter is made by mixing the resin with water, power of raw rice (Arua) and sugar. The batter is fried in the shape of vermicelli.
This story was originally written by Ratan K Pani for The New Indian Express. If you are in the knowledge of such rare recipes of Odisha, do write in to me at dianasahu@gmail.com

17 thoughts on “A Dying Flavour of Western Odisha


    In this country every city is identified either for a historical monument, for a temple, for a famous living personality or for a special kind of local culinary. When you think of Kolkata it reminds you of Rosgola; think of Hyderabad it would be Biryani; think of Mumbai it is Vada paun; likewise when you talk about this little town Barpali only one thing will strike your neurons and that is chaul bara.

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  2. karanjeetagarwal

    With the advent of new quick foods, people are now forgetting the old foods. Frankly saying, these are the best recipes and far better than today's modern quick foods if you compare. Western Odisha is famous for its famous dances, dishes, sweets, artworks, folk dances and other things that make it an unique place to visit. Tourists from other states and countries have different mindset about this beautiful picturesque part of Odisha. Thanks for sharing this, it will help many people to recognize their dying flavor and get addicted to it again.
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