The Bengali community often gets divided into two warring camps – ghoti and bangal. Now, if you are a full-blooded bangal, then there are a few things that are sure to make you drool. First is the king of fishes – ilish, or hilsa. Then you have kochu or Taro and last but not least, shutki or dried fish. Now, the ghotis might sneer at Shutki and its fragrance. But then again, you can’t expect people who put mounds of sugar in everything to know what true flavour is. Now, I am not going to write an ode about shutki maach here, it is etched in the heart of every bangal. I am here to share how I found this beloved treat of mine at a place where I least expected to find it – online. So, let’s take a look at how you too can find shutki maach online.
The bangal community is spread across the world. There might be quintillion bangals like me living and working in places like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, or even abroad. Now, it is really difficult to find authentic shutki maach anywhere outside of Bengal. Well, dried fish is available in Maharashtra and the Southern parts of India, but they are nowhere close to Shutki. The biggest difference is the fish they use. For example in Mumbai, they use Bombay Duck or bombil. However, traditional Shutki, at least in my opinion, is made from Bengali fishes like puti, lotte, and kucho chingri. I am no expert but I guess there are subtle differences in how they prepare it because the difference in taste is immense.
So, I recently came back from a trip to Kolkata and had that famous ‘Lotte Sutki Sheel e Batta’ at Kasturi (the one near New Market, not the Gariahat one). After returning to my lonely apartment in Bangalore, I suddenly felt the need to cook shutki at home. Now, you might have all the ingredients to make the curry here in B’lore, but you miss out on one important aspect – the fish. So, was it an ‘abort mission’?
Well, the bangaler's determination is a hard thing to break. I asked one of my friends and she suggested to me this website called qretto.com. She has been ordering rosogollas from there for quite some time. Encouraged by the quality of the rosogollas at her place, I decided to give the site a try and that was my stairway to heaven.
They have a range of dried fish for sale online. Apart from puti, prawn, and roopchand, they also have Bombay duck and churi. Regrettably, they didn’t have lotte. Anyways, I ordered the puti one and another surprise awaited me. No shipping charges. Yes, you only need to pay for what you are ordering. And this is for all over India. While I was at it, I also ordered some whole spices. So, if you are a bangal in the mood for a simple platter of gorom bhat and shutki maacher jhol while playing SD Burman’s Bengali songs in the background, then order dry fish online from Qretto and rediscover your love with shutki.