Lotiya Vada (Bombay Duck Fritters)

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Bengalis or Bangali are branded with their love for fish. Be it the Bangals, who crossed the borders from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and reached India or the Ghotis who actually lived in West Bengal even before the Indian partition in 1947. Bangals and Ghotis will shout in unison for their love for fish. Fish is like a part of the Bangali society, an integral part of the Bengali culture and cuisine, something indispensible. There can’t be a meal completed without the serving of a fish curry or at least a fried fish. But with our generations getting pretty lazy of cooking fish (rather the task of entering the kitchen) or too busy with the other important things in life; having fish has become a run to the nearest restaurants. Great Bong has something to say about this dying trait of Bangali.

Both my parents’ families are Bangal, and that makes me a pure BangalJ, and that is surely reflected in the ways I cook and the food I like. I am an avid lover of “shutki maach” (dried fish). I can barter my tooth and nails for a morsel of shutki maach cooked in dry gravy. When we talk about shutki maach, Bombay duck or loitta or lotiya maach can’t be left behind. This fish with its pungent smell when dried is a winner among all kinds of dried fishes. For those who have not tried having dry fish, I warn you, it’s not for the weak at heart.

Now, don’t get carried away with the dry fish, I’m not writing a recipe for shutki maach, but it’s a recipe for the crispy mouthwatering fritters made with fresh Bombay duck. This very soft and delicate fish looks divinely pinkish white when fresh and you can definitely identify it from other fishes sold because it is scale-less, and never have I seen it alive at the fish stalls (have you?). Though the wiki page on Bombay duck claims it to be a pungent smelling fish, I would rather disagree to it. Loitta even lacks the fishy smell unlike other fishes sold in the markets.

This morning when I put up a small note on the Cook Like a Bong Facebook fan page for the loitta vada post, I never thought that the fish was so popular every where. Within no item there were comments streaming on that little note. There are many ways loitta is cooked in different households, but apparently the lotiya bora being the most popular one. Its better if you get the fish fresh and cleaned from the market for the preparation, but if that is not possible then the canned fishes are always there.


  • Bombay duck (Loitta/ lotiya): ½ kg, cut  and cleaned
  • Onion (Peyaj): 2 medium size, julienned
  • Green chili (Kancha lanka): 3/ 4, chopped into small pieces
  • Gram flour (Besan): ½ cup
  • Poppy seed (Posto): 2 teaspoon
  • Rice Flour (atta): 1 tablespoon
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste


  • Boil water and steam the fishes till gently tender, transfer in a colander so that all the water gets drained out
  • Mix all the ingredients excepting the oil to a large bowl and make small fritter
  • Fry the fritters in shallow oil till both sides turn brown
  • Drain out the excess oil from the fritters with kitchen paper
  • Serve hot with sauce or with rice and dal

Hot Tips – If the batter seems too gooey then put in a little bit more of rice flour. The fish shouldn’t be over boiled; else the fritters will loose the crispiness.

Further Readings – Dimer Vada (Egg fritters), Macher Dimer Vada (Roe fritters)

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Patla Ilisher Jhol (Hilsa with Nigella)

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“Aum Mahalakshmi Vidmahe

Vishnu PriyaYe Dhi Mahi

Tanno Lakshmi Prachodayat”

-Lakshmi Slokam

Lakshmi salelakshmi sale

I had prepared this patka Ilish (hilsa) jhol (curry) quite sometime back, and the images had been in my folder since then. I was searching for the right time to publish this recipe, and nothing can be better than today. According, to Bengali customs it is said that no one should have hilsa between Lakshmi Puja and Saraswati Puja. Ilish is one of my most favorite fishes and I never liked this customJ. Sometime back, while searching for hilsa recipes on the web I came across an article named “The Last Hilsa Curry” in the Outlook India. Along with a dinner menu for the Chief Minister of West Bengal at the Prime Minister’s home there was the answer to my long lost question. Why we should not have hilsa between Lakshmi and Sarawati Puja? The scientific reason behind this custom is very simple. The little hilsa fishes swam back from river to the sea and then again came back in the next monsoon to lay eggs. With globalization everywhere, we are almost forgetting our own cultures, as a result of not following this simple custom the world renowned Padmar Ilish is on the verge of extinction. These days you can find hilsa all throughout the year and some weighing even less than 500gms.

Lakshmir potLakshmir nauka

Coming to a lighter note, today is Lakshmi Puja eve and the markets are flooded with people doing their last minute marketing for welcoming the goddess of wealth. Lakshmi Puja is carried out in almost all families, mainly the Bangals (families who came as refugees from East Pakistan). Ghotis households (the actual inhabitants of Bengal) worship the goddess on Kali Puja (Diwali) and they call it as Mahalakshmi Puja. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and the daughter of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Lakshmi is also depicted as the mother goddess, sitting or sanding on a lotus, holding a lotus on one hand and a vessel filled with grains on the other. The lotus in her hand symbolizes beauty and purity of woman. Her four hands depicts the four ends of human life – dharma (righteousness), kama (desires), artha (wealth) and mokhsha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).

chand mala

Tomorrow is Kojagori Purnima and all households are getting ready for the day. Some families worship the goddess not as an idol but as a painting on terracotta discs (Paut in Bengali). The banana stem is modified to a small boat and filled with paddy and lentils signifying gold and silver. A pair of hilsa is offered to the goddess in some households.

Here is a quick and easy recipe with hilsa. I have used raw banana for the preparation, you can also use thin and long egg plants in place of it. Potato doesn’t go along with hilsa, so its better to leave potato out of this curry.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 15min

Patla Ilish Jhol


Hilsa (Ilish): 4 pieces

Raw Banana (Kancha Kala): 1

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 4 tablespoons

Nigella (Kalo jeera): ½ teaspoon

Green chili (Kancha lanka): 2

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1½ teaspoon

Salt to taste


  • Wash the fishes well, put in a bowl and mix well with 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt
  • Cut the raw banana longitudinally into half and then into 2 inch long pieces
  • Heat the oil in a wok and half fry the fishes, take out and keep aside
  • Throw in the bananas and toss for a minute, add the nigella seeds
  • Mix turmeric powder in 2 tablespoons of water and keep ready
  • As the nigella seeds start popping pour in the turmeric paste
  • Add the chilies (slit them if you like the curry to be hot), and pour in 1 ½ cup of water
  • Let the water boil and reduce to half
  • Gently add the fried hilsa pieces and cook for 2 minutes
  • Take out of flame and serve with warm rice

Patla Ilish Jhol

Further Reading – Bong Mom’s Hilsa Curry, Hilsa story

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Macher Jhol

Fish had always been my love at the dining table. Fish of all types and fish of all kinds does always bring that extra smile to my face. This is the reason why I am just enjoying my stay here in Bengal. I feel that it is for all Bengalis wherever they are, fish is the best way to end the meal. My mom used to cook a very simple but the most delicious fish curry, when I used to go to school. I still like that fish curry. Here it is for all you readers. To tell you one simple trick to make this curry a bit more spicy, cook it with any kind of fresh fish brought from the market that same day.


Fish (Maach): 4 pieces

Potato (Aalu): 2 , cut like finger chips

Onion (Peyaj): 1small, chopped finely

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1/2 teaspoon

Chilli powder (Sukno lankar guro): 1 teaspoon

Cumin powder (jira guro): 1 teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoons

Bay leaf (Tej pata): 2

Salt to taste


  • Half fry the fish pieces, potatoes separately and keep aside.
  • Take oil in a wok and sauté the onions, and the bay leaves.
  • Add all the spices to the sautéd onions and fry a bit.
  • Add 2 cups of water and to it add the fried potatoes.
  • Cook the broth till it starts boiling and then add the fish pieces, take care so that those do not break.
  • Cook till the potatoes get fully cooked.
  • Serve with rice and enjoy eating.

I prepared this dish with Rohu (rui maach), you can do the same with any fleshy fish.

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