Whenever I had a visitor from some other state who wished to have some Dahibara-Aludum, I always used to take them to Ishwar. I could have taken them to the purist’s favorite, the Bidanasi Style Punia or Raghu, however, if it was the first-ever encounter with Dahibara Aludum for this tourist, I would take them to Ishwar first.

There was a reason. What Ishwar did with Dahibara Aldudum was radical and made the dish more appealing to the palate of the majority of Indians. The Dahibara Aludum at Ishwar would be a mix of Soft Dahibara with spicy Aludum, a couple of “meetha”(sweet) dahibara, topped with chutneys, onions, crispies, curd and the end result used to be a blast of flavours. Hence they would immediately love the dish at once.

For someone who is not from Cuttack, or who is not used to the straight cut Bidanasi Style, Spicy Aludum and Subtle & Soft Dahibara combo, the taste would immediately appeal to them, since they would relate it to chaat or any other “khatta meetha” street food that their palate is accustomed to. Later I would take them to the “without all the jazz” Purist Dahibara Alumdum centers such as Punia, Raghu or Bhaggi to taste the real deal. I believe commercially too, Ishwar was among the first of many who started serving meetha dahibara in a plate of Dahibara Aludum or at least the one who popularised it. The history of Dahibara Aludum and stories around it are really not documented well enough.

The patrons are many and stories innumerable. During my school days between two tuition classes me and my friend would almost every evening cycle to Biju Patnaik Chak for a plate of Dahibara and then head to the second class. In recent times often I would bump into him while he would be shopping at Biju Patnaik Chak riding his good old Luna.  A humble man who probably remembered all his patrons. He would always greet me with a smile.

During one of our shoots, we learned something very interesting which I believe very few people know about Ishwar. You would have often seen a black color bowl through which he pours dahi paani on your bowl. It happens to be an almost 40-year-old coconut shell that serves as a bowl and he has been using it ever since he started the shop.

I think it’s time Indian restaurants should start expanding the “Indian section” of their outdated and overly North centric menus and start including dishes from across the country and if Dahibara Aludum makes it its way, it would be the type made at Ishwar Dahibara Aludum that I believe would be widely accepted and appreciated.

~~ Rohit Srivastava