Lotiya Shutki

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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.

Further Reading – Bombay Duck Fritters, Chanchchra

This post goes to Sujana’s first blog event “Celebrating Regional Cuisine”

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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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