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Green chunks of mixed vegetable curry in mustard paste and coconut, on a green piece of banana leaf resting on a clay plate. A clay tumbler in the bakcground with yellow mango lassi, white cooked rice on a banana leaf and a white hibiscus flower complete the presentation
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5 from 1 vote

Traditional Odia Vegetable Besara - Curry in Mustard Paste

Traditional Odia Vegetable Besara, vegetables cooked in mustard paste and panch phoron. With desi vegetables like Pumpkin, raw banana, parwal, this follows a recipe from the kitchens of the Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri. Vegan, Gluten free
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: besara, chhappan bhog, mahaprasad, mixed vegetable, Odia cuisine, panch phoron, puri temple
Servings: 4 People
Author: Sujata Shukla


For Mustard Paste

For Urad Dal Badi

  • 2 tablespoons or 10 small pieces urad dal badi from ½ cup soaked urad dal/ black lentils - click the ingredient name in previous column, for link to recilpe for badi.
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or sunflower oil

For Panch Phutana or Panch Phoron 5 Spice mix

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds rai seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds jeera seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds saunf seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds methi seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon kalonji / nigella Seeds kalonji/ onion seeds

For Odia Vegetable Besara

  • 2 tablespoons ghee I used the leftover ghee after frying Badi, and topped it up. The traditional recipe is with ghee, but if you dont prefer this, use a mild vegetable oil such as sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder dhania powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup green banana about 100 gms - 2 cm lengths (or use Yam or Colocasia/ arbi)
  • 1 cup pointed gourd/ parwal/ potola about 100 gms - 2 cm lengths
  • 1 cup drumstick / moringa pods about 100 gms - 2 cm lengths
  • ½ cup moringa leaves about 10 gms (or use methi/ fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard paste from list above
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder/ haldi
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon powdered jaggery
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons urad dal badi or 10 small pieces (from list above)
  • ½ cup grated fresh coconut
  • ½ tablespoon ghee


Make Mustard Paste

  • Soak the mustard in 1 tablespoon water for 15 minutes. Drain and grind the mustard into a paste, adding upto 1 more tablespoon of water, to make a thick paste

Fry the Urad Dal Badi

  • Heat Ghee (or other oil as preferred. The temple recipe requires Ghee for frying. Alternatively use a mild vegetable oil such as sunflower oil. Though mustard oil is extensively used in Odia cooking, this recipe already has both mustard paste and mustard seeds, so mustard oil is not recommended).
    Add the badi in batches. Fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, till they turn brown, turning them over every now and then so that both sides are fried. Drain excess ghee using a slotted ladle, and remove the fried badi. (I used the leftover ghee after frying, for the rest of the cooking process as below).
    Place the urad dal badi on a small colander lined with kitchen paper, to drain. Set aside till required.


  • Wash, drain and dry the vegetables. Peel the raw banana and slice it into 2 cm long slices. As it will begin to blacken, immediately place the slices in a bowl of water. Drumstick may be sliced into 2 cm lengths, after removing any fibre that juts out at the sides. However don't peel the drumsticks. Cut the ends off the parwal and slice into 2 cm lengths. Keeping all the vegetables to a uniform thickness and length will help them cook evenly.
    Wipe away any water clinging to the vegetable slices so that they are dry when added to the cookpot
  • Grate fresh coconut. Peel and grind ginger into paste (if using fresh ginger). Separately powder each type of spice that is required in powdered form, such as coriander and black pepper. Shred the moringa leaves (or methi leaves).

Make Odia Vegetable Besara

  • Heat the ghee. ( I used the leftover ghee after frying the urad dal badi, and topped it up a little to make up 2 tablespoons.) Once hot, turn the stove heat to low, add the panch phoron mix all together and allow the seeds to burst (about 30 seconds)
    Add coriander powder and black pepper powder, stir and saute for 5 seconds
  • Add sliced vegetables and stir well. Stirring and mixing the spices into the vegetables is important, otherwise the spices will catch and char at the bottom of the pan. Cook the vegetables for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. If pumpkin is used, you may see water being let out from the vegetables into the pan after about 3 minutes.
    Add the mustard paste, stir it well into the vegetables. I used only 1 tablespoon of the paste, but you may like to add more depending on taste
    Add the moringa leaves (or methi leaves)
    Add ginger paste, turmeric and jaggery powder, stir them in.
  • Add one and half cups of water. Add half the salt in the ingredients list. You can add more if required, towards the end.
    Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to simmer, covered for about 15 - 20 minutes, until there is just enough water left in the pan to prevent the curry becoming totally dry, and vegetables are tender and cooked.
    Taste for salt and add a little more if required as per your taste. I found 1 teaspoon of salt adequate for this volume of curry.
  • Add the urad badi that you had fried and kept ready earlier.
    Add the fresh coconut.
    Add a little ghee from the sides of the pan, so that it melts by the time it reaches the vegetables. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently so that the vegetables do not catch at the bottom of the pan.
    Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot with rice, Dalma and a dry sabzi.


Link to the recipe for making urad dal badi (fritters out of black lentils) for use in the above recipe:    Urad Dal Badi


Serving: 2people