Chhena Poda - the original Indian cheesecake from Odisha!

Chenna Poda is an extremely popular sweet in Odisha, though unfortunately quite unknown in rest of India. I discovered it purely by chance on a recent trip to Odisha and instantly fell in love with it! In fact if you also like sweets even half of as much as I do, you will love it too!

Here is a story of how I found this in a small village in rural Odisha :)

Chenna Poda sweet recipe odisha
A local sweet shop

We started early in the morning from Bhubhaneshwar, and despite a stomach-ful of breakfast of aalo-puri in a road-side stall in the city, I was hungry yet again. For me a meal is incomplete if there is nothing sweet at the end of it, but I didn't want to make fuss about it so early in the morning and so killed all my primordial desires and didn't drive the car around looking for morning desserts.

But then they say that there is Bhagwan/ Allah/ Jesus and when you pray hard enough they come to your rescue. Though I didn't pray to the almighty, someone up there heard me nevertheless and offered me an opportunity that I couldn't resist.

Chenna Poda sweet recipe odisha
Waiting at the railway crossing

As we reached the village of Janakpur, we came across a railway crossing which closed right in front of us for the train to pass. Of course, quite predictably, the train didn't come for a long time and I decided to get out of the car and use my camera. But I was in for a surprise! Right next to our car was a small sweets shop and an old man was making fresh local food right then. The air was filled with aroma of warm sweetness and my heart skipped a beat.

Without much ado, I was at the shop and buying a piece of everything to sample. There was gulab-jamun, chenna poda (something close to what we know as cheesecake in the rest of the world), laddoos, halwa, and a few savouries too, which I conveniently ignored. I was like a child eating everything together and loving it too :)

Chenna Poda sweet recipe odisha
Donut style gulab-jamuns 
Chenna Poda sweet recipe odisha
Chenna Poda sweet recipe odisha
Finally Chhena Poda

My favourite - Chhena poda (चेना पोड़ा, চেনা পদ)) :)

History and recipe of Chhena Poda

Now the name literally translates into burnt cottage cheese (Chhena - cottage cheese, poda - burnt) and it comes from the method of preparation

Once I went back I read up a bit more about the sweet and some really interesting story came out. It's first recorded history dates back to the twelfth century when the dessert was made by mistake by a local sweet-maker. Soon it became very popular in Odisha and neighbouring West Bengal. Now I am a big fan of exploring local sweets and my last visit to rural Andhra Pradesh I had discovered (for myself) another local delicacy called Pootharekulu which completely blew me away!

Here is a quick Chhena Poda recipe in case you want to make it at home, though I would strongly recommend a quick trip to Odisha to eat it fresh and cooked by the local talent! Also, it tastes best when made on fire-wood which is sort of tough at home :)

Anyway here are the TEN steps to make it at home :)

1. Boil the milk and stir regularly so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
2. Add a few drops of lime and continue to stir. Milk will begin to curdle.
3. Using a thin cloth or a sieve strain the milk and separate out the milk - it's called chhena.
4. Squeeze chhena to remove whey and also wash it with cold water to keep it moist and soft.
5. Hang it for about half and hour and your final chhena will be ready.
6. Now take some suji along with sugar (to taste), cardamom, saffron and chopped dry fruits and mix it well with the chhena.
7. Pre-heat the oven and then bake the mix for about 30 minutes at 400 degree Celsius.
8. After confirming that its fully baked cool the cake. It's important that the upper layer is a bit burnt (like crust of a cake)
9. Garnish some more with dry-fruits and saffron
10. Serve it warm or cold - it tastes great either way :)

The story of Chhena poda maker

As always I am never satisfied by just eating good food and always curious to know more about the people who make it. So I reached out to the man who was cooking it with the help of his young son who spoke decent Hindi.

Gopal Behera runs a small and rustic food shop with his son, near the railway crossing in Janakdeep village of Odisha.

When he was young there were no schools in the village or around, but he learnt Odiya alphabets from a man who used to teach the kids in the village. His sons, however, went to school.

Gopal's day starts really early in the morning when he and his family cooks the food to be served in the day. After sunrise they turns st the shop till all food items are sold. Some of the popular things he sells include chena cake and pakoras.

I also asked him about his dreams and this is what he told me me :)

"I am an old man now and don't have any dreams anymore. It's time for my son to dream."


  1. Thanks for the recipe. I'll try to make it at home and when I go to Odisha. have it there. :)

    1. Nisha, you will just love it. I think there is no one in Odisha who does not like eating it.

  2. What I liked best about this post is the story of Gopal Behra. Its always good to know the people behind the action.

  3. I have had chhena Poda wen a colleague bought it back from Odisha. Gopal Behra's dream made me smile !

  4. Nice post! Next time you are in Odisha go to Pahala which is a town between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar - its a mecca for sweet lovers, especially rasagollas! The ones you get there are very different from their WB counterpart!

  5. Just today my friend who is from Odisha gave this sweet to me :) It is very good. Thanks for the post.

  6. Well... you seem to have missed out on one key component of the chennapoda. The chenna is wrapped in leaves and then set to bake. The leaves give the chenna poda a flavour, which, in my opinion, is the soul of the chennapoda.

  7. Good see the native sweet foods are loved by people from every state and even from other countries. Foods we get in the restaurant are completely different from the foods we get from road-side thellas. Though more people love or dream to eat in restaurants, road-side foods have their own charm and warmth. Apart from chenapoda, you can enjoy Pahala Rosogollas are very famous. You definitely come another time to this place if you get to taste this sweet product from a sweet place.

  8. Nothing can beat the taste of Chhena pods. Whenever I visit odisha I make sure I take decent amount of Chhena poda for all my friends n colleagues. They gone crazy about Chhena poda and asked me bring some for them in person separately. It feels proud to read such article. It's time for Odias to spread the delicacies outside the state n make it popular.

  9. Good to read such article. just couple of observations that it is very different from milkcake and it was first made in early twentieth century.

  10. An almost forgotten memory......


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