Loitya Macher Jhuri (Spicy Bombay Duck)

4:35 AM

As I looked at my son, sobbing in his sleep, His whole body curled and stacked against me, his tiny little hands tightly gripping my right hand as if to convey the message...'wont let you go'...my heart is filled with a warm fudgy feeling. As I hugged his tired body and brought him close, I looked up and silently uttered my prayers to thank God for such little cozy moments called 'Happiness' in life.   

Life definitely is worth living if you are grateful for what you have.

The whole episode took place once I came home after seeing one of my relative who is suffering a lot these days from different ailments. For obvious reason chose to leave the little one in the care of his grand father and he readily agreed to stay back and play cricket with Dadubhai. But the scenario changed totally once I stepped back in. He was so upset that could not even eat a morsel for dinner and clenched to me complaining how he missed me and how I should never let this happen. It was comforting to some extent that still am so important for him (yes selfish me) but at the same time it some where rings a bell that now I need to prepare him for more independent times. But I will deal with it later, better to share my  recipe for today, which is another winter special dish of Bengal.

Loitya or Bombay Duck was totally unheard of in the place where I grew up. I rather was introduced to this fish very recently when we moved back to Kolkata couple of years back. We on our weekend trip, saw these soft, pink, small fishes many times during this time in my local market but never wanted to give it a try. but couple of years back when Maa cooked Shuntki (dried fish) in a very spicy sauce I thought why not. The only problem with this fish is it calls for loads of spices and oil, the amount we are not very comfortable with. So we very seldom gorge on this as a weekend affair. My Mother and husband love this with hot steamed rice and so do I.

If I understand correctly this recipe belongs mainly to the Bangladeshi kitchen, as mostly refered as Bangal barir ranna. The Fish monger (or fishwife to be gramatically correct), the old fragile lady with a 1000 watt betel leaf stained smile from my local weekend Haat told me This is one of the dishes that provided the essential protein when they migrated from Bangladesh after the partition. It still is quite cheaper (Rs. 40/kg) and is an essential part of winter diet for many unpriviledged families.

The name of Bombay duck in itself has many interesting stories to share. It is said that  when the Indian Rail links were esblished, this fish from the western continent of India cought attention of the fish loving East Bengal People (Now Bangladesh) and they started transporting these through the Bombay line trians. Being a sea fish when dried the smell of the fish became very strong and hence the boxes were soon consigned to the Bombay mail train well known as Bombay Daak. The association of the fish to this, later named it Bombay Duck. 

The recipe of this calls for very few ingredients which are generally available at home. But do add some time and patience to the ingredients too. This fish is very watery and you will have to provide some time to cook it on medium heat to dry it and get to the correct consistency.

Loitya Macher Jhuri
(serves 2/3)

Fresh Loitya or Bombay Duck: 250 gms (cleaned and washed)
Onion: 2 large (I used purple onion)
Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Ginger paste: 1/3 tsp
Tomato: 1 large or 2 medium
Chili powder: 1 tsp (or as you like it)
Oil: 3-4 tbsp (I use mutard and white oil in 1:1 ratio)

Wash and drain the water from the fish and smear with little salt and turmeric. keep aside for 5 minutes.
Finely chop the onions and keep aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the fish pieces on high heat. It will release plenty of water, just keep stirring and dont worry if it breaks. You can skip this step and cook the fish directly when the spices are fried but that definitely ends up in a very strong fishy smell which we dont like. So we always prefer to fry it before adding them to the final curry.
With a slotted spoon take the fish pieces out. If you are afraid of the thin central fish bone then at this point you can pick it. Using your spatula clean the pan.

Heat the rest of the oil and fry the onion on medium heat. Keep cooking till the onions are wilted and mushy (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic paste, pinch of salt, turmeric and chili powder. Cook till you see oil oozing out. Add in the chopped tomatoes and keep cooking with salt. Be patient and wait till the tomatoes start releasing the oil.

Tumble in the fried fish pieces and mix everything together. At this point the fish pieces wont be whole. It will break and mash with the spices. just keep cooking till the whole spice paste and fish pieces come together in a beautiful mash and you see almost all the oil coming out from it.

The end dish would be a thick chunky mush of fish and hot spice. As I served it in a bowl in the picture, all the oil has accumulated at the bottom.

Serve it hot with warm steamed white rice on an winter day. Indulge in it occasionally though :-)

A Homemaker's Notes:
This is a fresh Bombay Duck recipe not the dried or shutki fish recipe.

The dish should be very spicy to alive or your tastebuds. But please adjust the oil and the amount of chilies as per your likings.

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  1. The clicks are amazing and so is the recipe,yum

  2. I have heard so much about Bombay Duck, never tried it. Love your presentation...does it smell like the dried version?

  3. Yummy looking fish.Love to have it with rice.

  4. My eyes welled up with a mixed emotions after reading the first half of the post....So nicely written...:)

    I have never tried Loitya....but heard so much about it....seems like have to give it a try....Love the pictures....

  5. @Rumana, thanks but this is not a chutney dear, its a spicy fish dish.

    @Kamalika, thanks a bunch. loved the writing wala complement from a writer herself :-)

    @Suchismita, na na the smell is not that strong.

  6. such a stunning color of this yummy curry...a must try this weekend,thanks for sharing :-)

  7. Ongoing event at my place:

  8. I did not have this fish earlier. But after my friends from Agartala prompted me to eat them , now I regularly have shutki maach. Yours recipe looks great.

  9. ...key board is wet with my mouth watering over the post....


  10. ...key board is wet with my mouth watering over the post....


  11. ...key board is wet with my mouth watering over the post....


  12. great to discover your blog today..
    Will be reading it all

  13. great to discover your blog today..
    Will be reading it all

  14. Good idea........
    I love bombay duck very much........


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