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Loitta Shutki (A Traditional Bengali Spicy Dish Made With Dried Bombay Duck)

[Shutki is to die for, although some people might find the smell a bit too strong. This authentic Bengali dish tastes at its best with lots of chillies and garlic. Initially the smell of dried fish is quite strong, but as you cook the Shutki, it almost magically transforms into a fish pickle with a unique aroma. A generous amount of strong mustard oil is needed to cook this dish. This is not a low-oil recipe. The dish is totally dry and can be kept in the refrigerator for a week. Loitta Shutki is enjoyed with steamed rice.]

Ingredients

  • Dried Bombay duck/Loitta/Bombil: 12-15
  • Onions chopped: 2 teacups
  • Garlic crushed: 2 tsp
  • Finely chopped green chillies: 5
  • Red chilli powder: ½ tsp
  • Salt: according to taste
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
  • Mustard oil: ½ cup

Instructions

  • The heads of all the fishes should be chopped off. Chop the Loitta (dried Bombay Duck) into one-inch-sized pieces. Boil these pieces in a bowl of salted water (1.5 tsp salt boiled in 500 ml water) for 20 min. Switch off the gas and transfer the contents to another bowl.
  • Leave the bowl covered for 30 min. This is done to remove the dirt from the skin, make the fish germ-free and to make the fish softer. After 30 min, run your fingers over the soaked pieces, so that the fine scales come out. Try to remove as many scales possible, but don't disintegrate the fish at this stage (for this recipe). Change the water thrice, while you continue removing the scales in cold water. After three washes, the fish is scale- and dust-free. Remove the fish slowly from the top and transfer to a clean bowl. Don’t transfer the little amount of water left at the bottom of the previous bowl: this water would probably still have sand and scales!
  • Heat oil in a deep Kadhai or wok. When the mustard oil is very hot, reduce the flame to a medium and add the garlic. Sauté for 1 min. Add the onions, green chillies, red chilli powder, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp turmeric powder. Sprinkle some water along, in order to avoid burning the turmeric powder. Sauté continuously on a medium flame until the onions are very soft.
  • Add the drained Loitta fish. Cook covered on a medium heat for 10 min, stirring after every 2 min.
  • After 10 min, open the lid and sauté continuously until oil leaves the sides of the Kadhai. Adjust the salt. Cook for another 2 min.
  • Serve the Shutki with steamed rice.