Sri Jagannath is the Lord of the Universe. His Kitchen is considered as the largest and the biggest Kitchen in the world. It is situated south-east direction of the outer compound of Srimandir. The length of the Kitchen is 150 feet, breadth is 100 feet and height is about 20 feet. It consists of 32 rooms with 250 earthen ovens within these. Around 600 cooks(Suaras) and 400 assistants serve here everyday for preparing Lord’s food.
These are three types of hearths in the Kitchen of Srimandir such as Anna Chuli, Ahia Chuli and Pitha Chuli. The dimension of hearths where rice is prepared are 4′ x 2.5′ x 2′. The rectangular space created between two rice hearths is called Ahia. All types of Dal and Curry items are cooked in Ahia Chuli. There are only ten numbers of Pitha Chuli in the temple Kitchen which are made of cement. The fire of this Kitchen is Known as Vaishnava Agni, because it is the fire in the Kitchen of Lord Jagannath and used to serve Vishnu Himself. It is never put out.
It is believe that Mahalaxmi cooks in the Kitchen Herself; all are felt to be her servants. As she is not attentive to the cooking on the days when Lord Jagannath is said to be sick before Rath Yatra, the food is less tasty. During Rath Yatra when Lord Jagannath is in Sri Gundicha Temple. She is said to have no zeal to cook and so the food is tasteless.
It is also said that if mother Laxmi is displeased with the preparations by the cooks, a dog will appear mysteriously on the temple grounds. If the dog is seen, all the food must be buried and prepared again. As no dog is allowed to enter the temple, this dog is said to be Kutama Chandi, a tantric goddess in change of purification of food.
Four types of cooking are prepared in the Kitchen of Srimandir. Those are Bhimapaka, Nalapaka, Souripaka and Gouripaka. The items of Bhimapaka consists Badatiana, Gudakhuara, Pakala Nadia Rasa, Purapitha,Biripitha and Gudakanji. In Nalapaka, items like Sakara, Tianlapara, Adanga and different types of sweet drinks are prepared. Souripaka items include Mahura, Deshialubhaja, Kadalibhaja, Adapachedi, Ghialabanga and varieties of cakes. In Gouripaka, Mugatiana, Leutia, Kosala and Madhura Lalita Saga items are cooked.
In the Kitchen of Srimandir, four types of rice are prepared. These are Salianna, Khiraanna, Dadhianna and Sitalaanna. Sunakhila rice cooks along with ghee and Phalatabha Kharada Lavana to get Salianna. For geeting Khiraanna alongwith Basumati rice, cow milk, ghee and Kharada Lavana are mixed and cooked. Similarly plain rice mixed with curd, Dhdhianna is prepared and rice mixed with Tabharasa and Kharada Lavana; Sitalaanna is prepared.
The food in the temple Kitchen is prepared in such a pure way and with deep devotion; great spiritual impact is felt, both by those who cook and those who eat. The unique feature is that, clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, five in numbers, one on the top of another. Yet the one on the top is cooked first.
There are two wells in the temple complex for the purpose of supplying water to the Kitchen. These are named as Ganga and Jamuna and both are near the kitchen itself. The radius of the well is more that 10 feet and depth is 100 feet each.
All the necessary commodities for the temple Kitchen are brought from Mahalaxmi Bhandar, which runs by Suara Nijoga Cooperative Society. The earthen pots used for cooking foods are provided by Kumbhakara and nearby areas supply these pots to the temple Kitchen. The required timber for the kitchen was previously supplied from different forests of the State. But after nationalisation of forests, these State Forest Corporation is providing timbers for cooking purpose.
Daily 5,000 persons may be fed, but on big festival days, one to ten million may be accommodated. The temple Kitchen of Lord Jagannath is therefore considered to be the biggest hotel in the World, serving all without reservation or previous notice.
Saroj Kumar Panda
Principal of Gadibrahma College, Delang, Puri.
According to ” Skanda Purana” Lord Jagannath redeems the devotees by permitting them to partake his Mahaprasad, to have His darshan and to worship him by observing rituals and by offering of gifts .Mahaprasad is treated here as ‘Anna Brahma’. The temple kitchen has got the capacity to cook for a lakh of devotees on a day. Mahaprasad is cooked only in earthen pots and medium of food is fire wood only. The steam-cooked food is offered to Lord Jagannath first and then to Goddess Vimala after which it becomes Mahaprasad. This Mahaprasad is freely taken by people of all castes and creeds without any discrimination.
When the steam cooked food is carried to Lord in slings of earthen pots no flavour comes up from the food but when the same is carried back to the sale point after being offered to the Lord a delicious smell spells along in the breeze to the pleasant surprise of the devotees. Now the food is blessed.
The tourists prefer to carry a particular type of dry Mahaprasad known as” Khaja” (made of maida, sugar and ghee) which stays fresh for days together.
Mahaprasad is ceased to be offered during the 21 days preceding the Ratha Yatra, as the lord is said to be having fever in that period.
Dried rice Mahaprasad known as “Nirmalya” is also used by devotees and tourists for different sacred occasions.
The main 56 items of CHAPANA BHOGA or MAHAPRASAD are as follows:
1. Sadha Anna – Simple Rice water
2. Kanika – Rice, Ghee and Sugar
3. Dahi Pakhal – Curd Rice and water
4. Ada Pakhal – Rice, Ginger and water
5. Thali Khechedi – Lentil, Rice with Sugar and Ghee
6. Ghea Anna – Rice mixed with Ghee
7. Khechedi – Rice mixed with Lentil
8. Mitha Pakhal – Rice , Sugar and water
9. Oria Pakhal – Rice, Ghee, Lemon and Salt
10. Khaja – Made of wheat
11. Gaja – Made of wheat, sugar and Ghee
12. Ladu – Made of wheat, sugar and Ghee
13. Magaja Ladu
14. Jeera Ladu
15. Jagannath Ballav – Wheat, Sugar and Ghee
16. Khuruma – Made of wheat, Sugar and Salt
17. Mathapuli – Made of Ghee, Ginger and a kind of beans ground in to a thick paste
18. Kakara – Made of Ghee and Wheat
19. Marichi Ladu – Made of Wheat and Sugar
20. Luni Khuruma – Made of Wheat, Ghee and Salt
(Onreturn of Bahuda Yatra during Suna Vesha, Rasagolla are offered as Bhogas but on no other day Rasagollas are allowed for Bhog)
Cakes, Pancakes and Patties
21. Suar Pitha – Made of wheat and Ghee
22. Chadai Lada – Made of Wheat, Ghee and Sugar
23. Jhilli – Rice Flour, Ghee and Sugar
24. Kanti – Rice Flour and Ghee
25. Manda – Made of wheat and Ghee
26. Amalu – Made of wheat, ghee and sugar
27. Puri – Made of wheat and Ghee and deeply fried like a small thin pan cake
28. Luchi – Made of Rice, Flour and Ghee
29. Bara – Made of Curd, Ghee and a kind of beans
30. Dahi Bara – Cake made of a kind of a beans and curd
31. Arisa – A flat cake made of Rice flour and Ghee
32. Tripuri – Another flat cake made of Rice, Flour and Ghee
33. Rosapaik – A cake made of wheat and
34. Khiri – Milk, Sugar with Rice
35. Papudi – Prepared from only the cream of milk
36. Khua – Prepared out of Pure Milk slowly boiled over many hours to a soft custard like consistency
37. Rasabali – Made of Milk, Sugar and Wheat
38. Tadia – Made of fresh cheese, sugar and Ghee
39. Chhena Khai – Made of fresh Cheese, milk and sugar
40. Bapudi Khaja – cream of milk, sugar and ghee
41. Khua Manda – Made of milk, wheat and Ghee
42. Sarapulli – This is the most famous and most difficult milk dish to prepare. It is made of pure milk boiled slowly for hours and spread in to a large pizza shaped pan.
Curry with Vegetables
44. Biri dali
45. Urid Dal
46. Muga Dal
47. Dalama – This is one of the typical dishes in Oriya Home. It is a combination of Dahl and Vegetable. Usually eggplant, beans, sweet potato and tomatoes, although tomatoes are not used in Temple preparations. Coconuts and a dried root of vegetables known as Bodhi which looks like a mush room and is high in protein are added.
50. Sag – A spinch dish
51. Potala Rasa
52. Goti Baigana
54. Raita – a yogurt like dish with curd and radish.
Mahaprasad consolidates human bond, sanctifies sacraments and grooms the departing soul for its journey upwards.