Delicacy of dried fish in a hilly kitchen


Dried fish is one of the key ingredients in most Hill Kitchen recipes, and its popularity is on par with that of any other meat dish. “Suri Suguni”https://www.thedailystar.net/”Chhuri Shutki” and “Eje-guri”https://www.thedailystar.net/”dried-prawn” are staple foods for the Chakma community and are incorporated into local vegetable preparations, mainly as a flavoring additive.

The recipe for the traditional delicacy called ‘Pajon’, most often associated with the Biju festival, calls for lots of different types of dried fish to intensify the authentic flavor of the pajon. Cooking dried fish in a bamboo tube and inside banana leaves are two other famous and traditional ways of cooking in the hills. Roasting dried fish over an open fire or over charcoal embers is another popular method of making dried fish salad/salsa.

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Here are some hill kitchen jerky recipes for all the jerky lovers to try.

ROASTED DRIED FISH SALAD

Ingredients

4-6pc chhuri/loitya Shutki

10-20pcs Bird’s Eye/Green Chilli

½ cup onion, chopped

¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Salt to taste

Method
If you have a charcoal barbecue you are very lucky and if not then nothing to worry about, use your gas stove! Turn on your stove and place a fillet on the stove and place your dry fish on it over low-medium heat. Be sure to burn your dry fish on each side, evenly. Be sure to make all the pieces crispy and well cooked at the same time. Increase and decrease your fire as needed.

The sand in the fish’s body and the smell will disappear while you char them with open fire. Clean any burnt black parts by rubbing a knife over them. If your dried fish is well cooked and crispy enough, you can easily break it into bite-size pieces. If not, roast again.

Also roast all the green chillies and crush them, make a coarse paste using a mortar and pestle. Put chopped onion, coriander leaves, salt and roasted dried fish pieces and mash them a few times.

Serve with hot rice and fresh boiled/garden vegetables.

STEAM DRIED FISH CURRY

Ingredients

10-12 pieces of loitya shutdownki/dried bombil

1 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ teaspoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon green chili paste

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ cup oil

½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Salt to taste

½ cup water (for the sauce)

1 medium sized banana leaf (optional)

Method

Cut the fish into 1-inch-long pieces and soak them in warm water for 20 minutes to make them soft and clean. Drain the water and wash the pieces. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give a good mix with clean hands and marinate for half an hour. Get a steel box with a lid. Transfer the marinade to the can. Cover the box with a banana leaf then close the box with the lid. The banana leaf will help add a subtle sweet leaf flavor. Put the can in a steamer and steam for about 30 minutes over medium heat. Serve with hot steamed rice.

JACKFRUIT SAUTÉED WITH DRIED FISH

Ingredients

4 pcs dried fish/chhuri shutdownki

2 cups jackfruit, thin pieces (boiled)

½ cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger juice

4 dried red peppers

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 cup or less water

½ cup oil

Salt to taste

Method

Cut the fish into 1 inch pieces and soak in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Drain and clean the fish, then transfer it to a bowl. Put red chilli, turmeric powder and salt on the dry fish pieces and mix well.

Heat a skillet with oil over medium heat. Add red peppers and fish. Fry for a few minutes until the pieces turn golden. Remove the fish from the oil and set aside.

Heat the same pan with the remaining oil and add the chopped onion. Fry until the color changes. Add the garlic paste and the ginger juice, fry for a few minutes. Put the jackfruit with fried dry fish pieces and sauté. Add a small amount of water at a time and keep stirring until everything is cooked through. When the water evaporates and the oil separates, transfer the food to a serving platter.

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH DRIED SHRIMPS

Ingredients

3-4 eggs

20-30 dried shrimp

¼ cup onion, chopped

2-3 chopped green chillies

¼ cup oil

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder, a pinch

A handful of lemon basil/cilantro leaves, chopped ½ cup

Method

Heat a skillet with oil over low-medium heat. Add dried prawns with salt and turmeric powder. Fry until the prawns are cooked through and crispy. Add onion, chili and sauté for 1 minute or less. Add the eggs and continue to stir. Add lemon basil or coriander leaves, mix well and let the egg cook for a while, transfer to a serving dish.

Food and Photo: Chiangmi Talukder Lena

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