Sunday, 26 December 2010

Litti- The taste of Bihar

Litti is something which is identified with the Bihari, wherever found.People who don't have a Bihari connection will not appreciate the feelings which are evoked by the mention of Litti among NRBs (i.e. Non Resident Biharis) . This may be mainly due to the snooty attitude which people outside the state take whenever there is a mention of anything connected with Bihar. Though there are a lot of Internet articles on the food item, I would like to pay tribute to this humble and desi food which is unparalleled in taste and simplicity.

Litti is generally mentioned and eaten with its companion Chokhaa. Together, both provides the most wonderful example of ethnic Indian food. Describing this food item is very easy but making it perfectly needs experience. It is basically a form of bread filled inside with dry gram flour. Litti comes in two forms, dry baked or fried. generally villagers and poorer people use the drybaked variety for daily use. The other one that is the fried variety is for a little more well to do persons where oil is generally used but use of ghee is also done in special cases. It is related to the Kachori lineage of foods and a somewhat distant cousin of dumplings like fried Momo.

They come in the form of dumplings which are ate with Chokhaa which is made of baked potato or brinjals or for that matter any other spicy and hot vegetable items . Once you have partaken this food you will definitely fall in love and always remember the simple yet tangy flavours. It is quite filling too. Three or four Litties with Chhokhaa followed by a glass of water will keep you filled for quite some time.

So friends, those of you who haven't yet tasted this food or not even heard about it , please, shrug off your god damned insular attitude and open your eyes and tastebuds to this ethnic marvel. If you can visit Chinese/ Tibetan food joints and pay a bomb to have Dim sums or Momos and later rave about it , then there is nothing to feel ashamed or haughty to taste Litti -Chhokhaa. In Kolkata it is prevalently found in the Central and Northern parts of the city as also in the Howrah area. Off course this is due to the large population of Biharis settled there. Since it is difficult to get this food item outside Bihar in a regular manner , more so in places of western or southern India, the best way to have it is to catch hold of your Bihari friend and get invited by him(her) to taste this delicacy. Regular contact with Biharis will also introduce you to another ethnic delicacy of their ownp- Thekuaa , which I also recommend highly.

The inspiration of this piece comes from my visit to Nilamber's house yesterday and having Litti Chokhaa after many, many days. Mrs Choudhary is a very good cook and as a matter of respect to her culinary abilities, I dedicate this piece to her.

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