To boil and grind shutki
- 100 g loitta shutki (dry-cured bombay duck)
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 8 g salt
- 200 ml water
- 3 g green chillies
- 6 g garlic
For the onion paste
- 120 g onions
- 30 g garlic
- 15 g green chillies
For cooking shutki
- 75 g total mustard oil
- 1 pc dried red chilli
- 1 pinch nigella seeds (kalo jeere)
- 150 g onions (thinly sliced)
- 30 g tomato (roughly chopped)
- 10 g green chillies (finely chopped)
- 4 g turmeric powder
- 4 g red chilli powder
- 4 g kashmiri red chilli powder
- 8 g salt
Shutki, or dried, cured fish, can be a polarising subject among Bengalis. To generalise, people from East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) love shutki in all its stinky glory, while several people from West Bengal find the very idea repulsive. In a modern world where more and more people are discovering the nuances of smelly, fermented, cured, food—blue cheese, stinky tofu, lutefisk, kimchi, axone—perhaps it is time to revisit our own past and give shutki a chance. This dish, hot and loaded with garlic, is a very accessible gateway into the delicious world of dried fish and meat. We hope you give it a try.
- In this recipe, we've used shutki from Benfish (from the West Bengal department of fisheries). As it is cleaned and packaged, it is a great way for first timers to dip their toes into the world of shutki. In the market, you can buy a wide variety of dried fish. In that case, be sure to discard the head, tails, and fins.
- To cook shutki bata, you will need plenty of onion, garlic, mustard oil, and chillies. If you are not generous with the oil, the shutki will taste dry.
- Cut shutki into small segments and soak them in water for 30 minutes. This will soften the shutki, and dissolve/loosen the sand and salt used to cure the fish. (If you are using loose shutki bought from the market, be sure to discard the heads, tails, and fins.)
- Wash and rinse multiple times until no sand or grit remains.
- Transfer to a saucepan. Add turmeric, salt and water. Cover and steam on low heat for 6 minutes. Then, strain and transfer the boiled shutki to a grinder jar.
- Grind with green chillies and garlic. Don't grind it too fine as we want to retain some texture. Remove from the grinder jar and set aside.
- Now, roughly chop onions, garlic, and green chillies, and add these to the grinder jar. Blitz into a paste.
- Slice onions thinly. Chop green chillies and tomatoes.
- Heat 30 g mustard oil in kadai. Add shutki. Fry it on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Set aside when done.
- Add another 45 g mustard oil to the kadai and heat it until it becomes pale yellow and smokes gently. Temper it with the dried red chilli and kalo jeere (nigella seeds).
- Add the sliced onions and sauté them on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the onion-garlic-chilli paste, and continue sautéing everything on medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, and salt. Add a splash of hot water, and sauté the spices on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes, fry for 2 minutes, add the fried shutki.
- Continue cooking everything on low heat, until the colour darkens. Do not add any extra water; keep scraping the bottom of the kadai from time to time.
- Once the colour had changed to a deep red, turn off the heat and sprinkle chopped green chillies.
- Mixer grinder