Mahaprasad, or locally known Abhada, is the food of Puri Temple. It is hailed as the food of the gods for its sheer sanctity. This kitchen cooks for nearly 25000 devotees every day. And, not once, has it run out of food.
Well, last time I told you about the kitchen, Rosaghara.
Today I will tell you about the food that comes out of this sacred kitchen.
Mahaprasad of the Puri temple is so famous that many people go for a visit just to eat it. I can vouch for that since I am one of those people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist or a staunch believer, the food here will entice you to keep coming back. If you think it will get boring, you’re wrong. Abhada is also known as chapphan bhog. With 56 different items, there is no way you’ll be bored!
There are mainly two types of bhog that are prepared here. One is the Sankhudi Bhoga that includes ghee rice, Dalma, saga (spinach), Besara and Mahura (mustard-based dishes), and khichdi. The other is the Nisakhundi Bhoga which has all the sweet dishes included. The most famous sweet is Khaja and it is also something many people take back because it is so delicious!
A little history lesson here. It is learned from the madalapanji that sankhudi bhoga was also served during the rule of king Jajati Keshari. According to the legends, the Prasad was first prepared on the 9th day of Asadha Suklapaksha. It was made in the Gundicha Temple. Hence every year on asadha nabami, the mahaprasad tradition is celebrated in the temple. The only time Mahaprasad wasn’t served was during the Mughal invasion (1568AD-1575AD) when most of the temples in India were destroyed, including the Puri Temple.
There is a total of four cooking procedures that are followed in the kitchen of Puri Temple. They are called:
- Bhimapaka: Items include Badatiana, nadia rasa (coconut water), different types of sweet and spicy pithas.
- Nalapaka: Items include adanga, and different sweet drinks.
- Souripaka: varieties of cakes and bhajas are included
- Gouripaka: Mugatiana, leutia, madhura saga are cooked.
The rice of the sankhudi bhoga is thought to be purer than Ganga itself. Known as nirmalya, it is believed that Ganga can be impure, but not mahaprasad. Nirmalya is believed to be given to a dying person to prepare them for the journey beyond. The food cooked is offered to Lord Jagannath first. It is after the offering that it becomes the mahaprasad in the truest of the essence.
Well, as a foodie, I might be biased towards the food here. But you won’t know till you try it. So, the next time you are in Puri, visit the Puri Temple. For both its serenity and the Mahaprasad!