PAKHALA: THE INDIGENOUS ODIA FOOD

 The term "PAKHALA" is derived from Pali word "PAKHALIBA" (Odia: ପଖାଳିବା) as well as Sanskrit word "Prakshalana" (Sanskrit: प्रक्षाळन) which means "washed/to wash." The word pakhaa was used in the Odia poems of Arjuna Das in his literary work Kalpalata (1520-1530 AD). The Bengali name for this dish is PANTA BHAT, in Chhattisgarh it's called BORE BHAT, in Jharkhand linguistic communities use names like PAANI BHAT, paakhaal or pakhala, and in Assam it's called POITA BHAT, in Tamil Nadu is called PAZHEDHU SAADHAM

History
It is unknown when pakhaa was first included in the daily diet of Eastern India, but it was included in the recipe of Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri circa 10. Pakhaa is eaten in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent (including Nepal, Bangladesh and some parts of Myanmar).
Preparation
The dish is typically prepared with rice that is cooked and allowed to cool. Cook normal rice and then cool it. Pour water in a bowl and add rice to it. In a pan, heat a pinch of oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, dry red chili and fry well. Add this chhunka or tadka into the pakhala bowl with sour curd. One can add mint leaves and raw salt to enhance the taste. To add more zing, one may opt for fish fry or SUKHUA PODA (dry fish fried), SAGA BHAJA, BADI CHURA (a regional food item made up of batter of urad or black gram by drying under sunshine as small nuts and then fried to serve) and much more. Cumin seeds are fried, ground into a fine powder and added to curd with coriander leaves and salt.
Health benefits of PAKHALA
It is rich in calories (32%), rich in vitamins (28%), easily digestible (22%).
Here are few health benefits, of Pakhala, that will make you love this Odia food throughout year.
The agricultural biotechnology department of the Assam Agricultural University here has unraveled the immense health benefits of water-soaked rice (PAKHALA BHAT). The lactic acid bacteria isolated from PAKHALA BHAT has the potential of removing anti-nutritional factors in fermented food.
Madhumita Barooah, who worked along with Gunajit Goswami of the department to isolate the bacteria, said cooked rice had an element that prevented the availability of minerals like iron, potassium, sodium and calcium in high quantities.
“About 100gm of cooked rice has only 3.4mg of iron, while for the same quantity of rice fermented for 12 hours, the iron content went up to 73.91mg. Likewise, sodium, which was 475mg came down to 303mg, potassium went up to 839mg and calcium went up from 21mg per 100gm of cooked rice to 850mg, after 12 hours of fermentation of the same quantity of rice,” Barooah said. Even after slight fermentation (three hours), the breakdown of the nutritional inhibitor by the lactic acid bacteria increased the mineral content manifold, she added.
“Although rice is an important source of dietary energy and nutrients, it is not a good source of metabolic micro-nutrients because of the presence of anti-nutritional factors such as phytic acid. Cereal grains such as rice also contain oligosaccharides that are not easily digestible because of absence of an enzyme in the human intestinal mucosa. Fermentation allows for breakdown of this and easy digestion,” Barooah said
Summer Supplement: Pakhala is considered the best food in summer to beat the heat. It’s a great weapon to fight back dehydration due to heavy sweating in summer.
Stay Slim: Eating Pakhala rice can help you stay slim! This is because rice, when refrigerated overnight, can contain up to 60% fewer calories than when freshly cooked – dropping from 130 calories per 100g to just 52.
Sound Sleep: Pakhala helps eliminate heat in the day and provides sound sleep in the night.
Digestive: Eating Pakhala helps break down meals daily for compromised digestive systems, and also helps strengthen the digestive system in general. They provide beneficial digestive enzymes, and also a good strain of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Natural Coolant: This fermented rice is a natural coolant, it reduces body temperature and keeps you cool.
Reduces Stomach Illness: Consuming Pakhala in the morning can keep stomach related illness at bay as it neutralises the harmful and excessive heat trapped in the body.
Cures Ulcers: If you are suffering from ulcers take this rice thrice a week to speed up the recovery.
Glow with Pakhala: It also helps in maintaining a radiant look.
Rich Minerals: It is high on micro-nutrients and minerals such as iron, potassium and calcium, having this rice on a daily basis helps one stay healthy according to a study.

20th March is celebrated as International Pakhal Diwas across the Globe



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