Fascinating information from Shilpa Krishna of Bangalore Foodies Club on Puri Jagannatha Temple Kitchen.
The temple kitchen has 752 wood-burning stoves (each 3’*4’) spread over one acre in the south east corner, far left inside the Lion Gate. Six hundred cooks and 1,000 laborers work daily in the kitchen. Chillies, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and several vegetables are not used in any preparation. Everyday, a fire sacrifice is performed in the temple kitchen. Afterwards, the cooks take from sacrificial fire to ignite their individual stoves for cooking each day. All the food is cooked in earthen pots.
The process of cooking Lord Jagannatha’s bhoga is tantric in nature and unique in character. Nine clay pots full of bhoga are cooked simultaneously upon one oven with nine burners representing nine devtas: Lakshmi-Narayana and Agnideva in the center surrounded by Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Brahma, Surya and Chandra. Every pot of bhoga that has been prepared is placed before Lord Jagannatha, unlike most temples in India, where only small portions of the entire meal are offered before the Deities.
Locals believe and the Brhad Bhagavatam (2.1.161) confirms that the goddess Laksmi personally cooks for Sri Jagannatha Deva (tasyannam pacitam laksmya). After Nilacala Chandra (Jagannatha) enjoys the bhoga, it is presented to Vimla Devi. Then it becomes the renowned maha-prasadam of Sri Ksetra Dhama. During Ratha-yatra, Jagannatha maha-prasadam is cooked in Gundicha temple.
Everyday Jagannatha Swami is offered 56 items (chappana bhoga) for His pleasure:
9 Rice preparations
14 Subjis and curries
9 Milk preparations
13 Cakes, Pancakes and Patties
The following list given a hint of the variety of delectable items offered daily: plain rice, ghee rice, ghee sweet rice, dry sweet rice, yogurt rice, plain khichdi, sweet khichdi, ginger rice and lemon rice. Sri Jagannatha Deva enjoys six bhoga offerings per day:
1)8a.m. – Gopala Vallabha Bhoga
2)10a.m. – Sakala Bhoga
3)11a.m. – Bhoga Mandapa Bhoga [huge quantities of bhoga offered for mass distribution]
4)12:30p.m. – Madhyahna Bhoga
5)7p.m. – Shayan Bhoga
6)11:15p.m. – Bada Shringar Bhoga
Gopala Vallabha Bhoga : (early morning breakfast) This is Jagannatha Swami’s first bhoga offering of the day consisting of milk sweets,fruit,butter,yogurt,coconut malai, etc.
Sakala Raja Bhoga : Contains various preps of black gram like bada kanti, sana kanti, enduri, mathapuli, hamsakeli, jhili, khichdi, etc.
Madhyahna Bhoga : Rice, dal, sabjis, etc.
Also, it seems that during the cooking process the contents in the top earthen pot gets cooked first as opposed to the bottom one, which is a mystery. (This cannot be verified, since noone other than the temple cooks can go into the kitchen).