Dried Fish in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

One of the polarizing fish that is making the Bengalis who can do wonder ever with the dead and dried fish is “Shutki Fish ”. A distinctive cannibal smell and cooking with loads of chilis makes it repulsive.

When you cook Shutki Maach (dried fish), it stinks so badly that you will not feel it to eat anyway. But when mixed with spices, it will be producing a fetish dish for many Bengalis out there all over the world.

If people can eat tofu, cheese, and kimchi then Shutki Maach or dried fish should have a place at the dining table.

Shutki is being a “smelly food” which is often used as a pun by the shutki haters out there in the world. But Dinendranath Tagore, the legendary Bengali connoisseur had a passion for dried fish, you can find it in his various writings.

If people can think of surströmming (Sweden), lutefisk (Norway), salami and anchovies (Italy), haggis (Scotland), blue cheese (France), rocky mountain oysters (North America) – as these are global smelly food, then why not dried fish as we should not forget our ethnic roots.

Dried Fish in Bengali & Indian Cooking

Uses of Dried Fish in Bengali & Indian Cooking

There are many Bengalis who actually salivate in the name of this dead and dried fish or Shutki Maach. This is actually a dead fish when dried to the ultimate level like a chip.

Shutki means dried up. When you actually cook this fish, you won’t forget the stinky smell of this fish but as soon as you eat it you will feel the mixture of spices.

Bengalis are fond of Jhal Jhal shutki and Gorom Bhaat. Indian cuisine is full of variety and this particular dish where even the dead and the dried fishes are not being spared.

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You can get shutki of various fishes like Moroula, Loita, Ilish, Chingri or Prawn and more.

Dried Fish Paturi:

Like Kimchi, Shukti is oriented from Sylhet and Chittagong. The traditional culinary experience makes it nostalgic for many Bengali families.

This special food knit the cultures and spices with the “o paar Bangla” feeling. The smokiness of the charcoal, the textures and explosions of flavors in the hidol, loitta and kachki shutki maach.

This being prepared with love and smell that emanates keeps you aware of that food that will be served with steamed rice to make it a wonderful amalgamation of fine Bengali food.

Loitta shutki is prepared with care where the dried Loitta is being placed over the foil/grill or pan with and oil is poured so to fry it so that you can debone the middle bone.

Then with chopped onions and chilis the flesh of fish is being pounded and kept on the leaves. Then wrap the pumpkin leaves into parcels with shutki filling inside and fry each of these in hot oil after dipping them into rice flour. You can serve these with hot steaming rice.

Dried Fish Pickle with Bombay Duck:

In the delicious world of this dried and crisp fish you can really look for this recipe which is actually highly mouth watering and it is a comforting dish especially for those who love fish with steamed rice.

Here the head, fins and the tails are all discarded. Then cutting these into segments. Then wash and rinse it properly so that no sand and grit remain.

Then boil it with turmeric and salt. Then in the grinder paste it with garlic, chilis, ginger, and coarsely grind it. Then make a separate paste of garlic, chilis and onion.

Chop onions, garlic, green chilis and tomatoes. Prepare a pan, add oil and kalonji. Then add the chopped onions, garlic, green chilis and tomatoes.

Then add the grinded shutki and cook it very nicely. Note by, this shutki is a Loitya Shutki which is Dried Bombay Duck.

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Dried Fish Curry:

First, take a scissor and cut out all the fins, tails and heads. Then boil it with turmeric. After boiling, use a pestle to discard the bones while making into two halves.

Then cut the potatoes like batons.  Then add the chopped onions, garlic, green chilis and tomatoes into the pan with hot oil and kalonji for tampering.

Add the fish and the veggies and cook it with a lid. You can add some water while cooking so that the dish looks like a gravy and mushy at the same time.

Chyapa Shutki:

This is a Bangladeshi dish which is made from dried Puti. Shutki is not a rotten fish but it is something that comes with an extension.

You can have an accurate taste of its own when it is mixed with spices and other vegetables. You can add these fish while you are simply cooking and boiling it with the spices at its best level.

This is a comfort food which is actually made by the Bengalis with their level best.

In fact, the Bengalis tolerate the unbearable sticky smell of these fishes while cooking but the end product is really good. You can refrigerate this for a week.

Shidol Chutney:

This typical dish of Syhlet in Bangladesh is Shidol chutney. This is completely a comfort food where the dried shrimps are mixed with pumpkin and loads of garlic. This becomes like a thick gravy of Shutki and pumpkin resembles a pickle.

Shidoler Bora:

The Shutki fish is mixed with garlic, onion and ginger forming a stuffing. This stuffing is being used to make small fitters which are known as Shidoler Bora or Shutki Fitters.

Shabji Diye Shutki Maacher Jhol:

Dried Fish when cooked with mixed vegetables. The fish is cooked with loads of vegetables and dried shrimps which is definitely a good one – not rotten but dried under hot sunshine.

Dried Fish Cooked with Taro and Black Colocasia:

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You can use any kind of dried fish for this recipe. You can use Rupchand, Pabda, Chingri etc. The amalgamation of Kochu or taro with Brinjal or Begun along with other spices mixed with onion, tomatoes and garlic cooked with special care to make an awesome dish which is a wonderful dish eaten along with steam rice or groom bhaat.

Shutki Shira:

Dried shrimps are cooked with vegetables but this time it is like a stew of vegetables, masalas and dried shrimps.

What is the Best Way to Cook Dried Fish?

I think the best way to cook shutki is “Shutki Maach Bata” (dried fish paste).

This is like a dried Bombay Duck fish boiled and then the bone is discarded. Then it is mixed with the spices and onion and garlic, cooked with

mustard oil and kalonji tampering. Cooked till all the spices and the vegetables are smashed properly and cooked in a perfect way.

Questions & Answers:

Is Dried Fish Tasty?

Of course, dried fish is tasty while cooked properly with loads of spices.

How to Make Dried Fish Taste Good?

You need to cook dried fish with loads of chopped onions, garlic, green chilis and tomatoes.

How Long Does Shutki Fish Take to Cook?

Shutki fish takes at least 30 to 40 mins to cook properly with all the spices and get blended with all the spices. This cooking needs time so that everything blends and gets mixed properly.

How Do You Know When Dried Fish is Cooked?

Dried fish has a stinking smell of its own. While you will cook the silver chips you will be flooded with that unprecedented smell which actually goes away when the cooking is totally done.

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