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Flowers and fish make Odisha home cook favourite in MasterChef India

Avinash Patnaik's Gaintha Pitha is made in the shape of flowers and has a tint of blue obtained from Aparajia flowers

Odisha’s home cook Avinash Patnaik is making waves in the State and India with the distinct flavours he has created in the 7th season of the MasterChef India, a cooking show on television.

To start with, it was his twist to the Gaintha Pitha – a traditional sweet dish – that got him the direct entry in the contest.

The 32-year-old who is doing his PhD in floriculture and horticulture gave the Gaintha Pitha the shape of flowers. The tint of blue obtained from Aparajita or butterfly pea flowers made them look aesthetically delightful. Going further he flavoured them with Pandan leaves and dunked them in milk which had almonds and coral Jasmine flowers mixed in them giving it a unique flavour.

Later he presented Flavours of Tatini – a fish recipe which originally hails from northern Odisha – and this secured him a place among the top 16 contestants. As per Patnaik it is a family recipe dedicated to his maternal grandmother from Bhadrak. It was served with rice to the three judges – well-known chefs Vikas Khanna, Ranveer Brar and Garima Arora — who appreciated it.

The core of Patnaik’s culinary art includes Odia pithas and using edible flowers in his dishes. As there is hardly any literature available on the former, he has documented more than 15 of the traditional ones, including their importance and history. Among these several varieties are pan-roasted, steamed and deep-fried ones.

His knowledge of flowers as a floriculture inspired him to provide a spin to many dishes made of vegetables, fritters and sherbet. For example, he uses golden shower flowers to make chutney and palash flowers to make sherbet.

He has participated in several cooking shows and this is his second attempt at MasterChef India.