The Ghoti Bangal rivalry dates back probably from the day the partition of India, or probably even before that. The competition extends cuisine to sports. The chingri bhalo na ilish bhalo (whether prawns are better than hilsa or vice versa) fight will probably never end.
For the uninitiated, here is a little background. If you know about Ghoti-Bangal bonhomie (or rather, the lack of it) already, skip the next two paras. Those who originally hailed from present Bangladesh are the Bangal brigade, while those who lived in West Bengal belong to the Ghoti section. Bengalis take the Ghoti-Bangal fight so seriously that the price of hilsa or prawns depends on the winning of East Bengal (representing Bangals) or Mohun Bagan (the Ghoti team) football clubs on the day of match. Imagine the irony being, at present several team members in both the teams are not even of Indian origin.
When we talk about Ghoti and Bangal, we just can’t stop without bringing into account the style they cook. I am a Bangal, and so I am generally biased towards the Eastern sideJ, ok, at least for the cooking part of it. The richness of spices among the Bangal cuisine is somehow missed in the Ghoti style, which rely on mainly the sweet taste of the curry. While frying and gravies are the main essence of the Eastern style of cooking, boiling, roasting demands the attention from the Ghoti brigade.
All said and heard, there is one particular dish which even many Bangals fear to consume, leave apart the Ghotis – it’s none other than the Shutki, the dry fish curry. This dry fish curry is mainly had by the Bangals who originally hailed from Chittagong, a coastal district of Bangladesh. Many fishes are cleaned and dried in the sun, but the most popular being the Bombay duck or loitta.
Once while browsing through one of the very popular Bengali restaurants in Bangalore, I came over a Shutki preparation, but just below it was a little phrase written in bold and italics – “Not for the weak at heart” – yes of course this very preparation is not for the faint hearted. The pungent smell of the dry fish along with the hot and spicy gravy makes this typical Bengali recipe a class of its own.
- 200 gms of Dry Bombay Duck (Shutki)
- 1 cup potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch square
- 1 cup pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1 inch square
- ½ cup julienned onion
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 10 -12 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 4 tablespoon of mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- Roast the dry fish for a minute or two to get rid off the sand
- Keep the roasted fish in lukewarm water with ½ teaspoon salt for about 15min
- Cut the fish into 2 inch long pieces, discard the head and tail
- Heat the mustard oil in a wok
- Sauté the julienned onions, garlic cloves till the onions turn transparent
- Throw in the ginger-garlic paste
- Add the potatoes, pumpkin and fish along with the powdered spices and salt
- Cook till the vegetables soften
- Serve hot with warm rice and enjoy this Chittagong specialty
Hot Tips – If you roast the fish for long the flesh will come out of the fish. So, just roast it for a minute or two. Don’t pour hot water to the roasted fish; it will make the pieces gooey.
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