While growing up, I never tasted Loitta mach or Bombay duck as it is commonly known. Although I grew up by the sea (in Port Blair) and my father had quite an experimental palate, he wasn’t allowed to bring home loitta mach. It wasn’t until I landed up in Goa for my graduation that I tried bombil rava fry at one of the beach shacks and fell in love with it. Goa opened up my culinary tastebuds and since then, it was been on the upwards journey. Loitta macher jhuri came much later.
Afterwards, I got married into a ‘ghoti’ family. And the struggle to make them taste a new variety of fish was real. Anindya was quite rigid about certain varietis of fish. Koi mach, aar mach, boal mach, even chitol mach and lote mach, to name a few. Over the years, his tastebuds opened too and now loitta mach is quite a regular feature at our dining table. We tried loitta macher bhorta at Vivanta Kolkata (it used to be known as The Gateway Hotel). I still remember how we ordered for a second serving. It was that good. Now if I make loitta macher jhuri, then Anindya doesn’t need anything else. He literally polishes off a plate of rice with just loitte macher alu diye jhuri.
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How to cook loitta maach for this recipe?
Fresh Loitta maach is a bit tricky to cook. It is a very soft and watery fish and sometimes just disintegrates in the pan if not handled with care. Additionally, for this recipe, Bombay duck has to be cooked in mustard oil. Pat the fish dry with a kitchen towel after washing thoroughly. Then sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and rub on the fish pieces. Also rub a little bit of flour (maida) and Bengal gram flour (besan). This way, the fish doesn’t become soggy and remains crispy. Heat mustard oil in a nonstick pan (works best in a non-stick pan) and when the oil is smoking hot, gently slide the fish in the pan. Keep the heat to medium intensity. Don’t try to stir and let the fish cook from one side.
The fish releases water and it splutters all around. You can cover it for a few seconds too when it splutters. Let the fish crisp up on one side, then gently flip to cook the other side. If it breaks, don’t worry. For loitta macher jhuri, it doesn’t matter as long as the fish is crispy.
There is more to bengali fish than Rui, Katla and Ilish. Check out this post of ours.
Loitta Macher jhuri is not the same as bhorta
Both are kind of a mish-mash. However, in the case of the former, it is more of a dry dish with a crispy texture. ‘Jhuri’ term loosely means’ jhor jhore’ or dry, where every grain is separate and not sticky. In the case of bhorta, the fish is literally mashed with the spices. Here, we also use some crispy potato sticks to give it an additional texture. Moreover, I add some besan and maida to my fish for jhuri. In the case of bhorta, I don’t do that.
You can eat this with rice, roti or paratha. However, it tastes best with rice. Also, straight from the pan to plate tastes better than reheated.
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Loitta macher jhuri | Bombay duck stir fry
- 500 gms Loitta maach Bombay Duck
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 large potato
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tbsp Crushed garlic
- 1 ½ tsp ginger paste
- 2-3 green chilies chopped
- 1 tsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp Bengal gram flour besan
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp Bengali garam masala
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- a handful of coriander leaves
- salt to taste
- 2-3 tbsp mustard oil
- Wash the fish and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
- Rub the fish pieces with all-purpose flour, Bengal gram flour, salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
- Heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil and when the oil is smoking hot, slide the fish pieces one by one in the frying pan.
- Don't overcrowd the pan. Keep the heat medium so that it doesn't burn. Flip gently when one side has become crispy.
- Take the fish pieces out of the pan and on a paper towel. Once they have cooled down a bit, remove the centre bone and break the fish pieces roughly with your fingers into smaller pieces.
- Now peel the potato and cut into think strips (like potato sticks).
- In the same frying pan, heat more oil and add sliced onions, crushed garlic and fry on high heat. When the onions have softened, add ginger paste.
- Keep frying and when the raw smell has gone, add potato sticks and the chopped tomatoes.
- Add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and stir-fry on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
- After that, add cumin and coriander powder and stir. Cover and let the potatoes cook in the spices. Lower the heat so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the potatoes have cooked, increase the heat and make sure that all the water has evaporated (if there is any from the tomatoes). Once the oil starts to release from the sides, sprinkle garam masala powder and the fish pieces.
- Gently stir fry the fish pieces with the spices and the potatoes.
- Keep the heat high. Add chopped green chilies and chopped coriander leaves to finish.
- Serve it with steamed rice or roti.