Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 362

Lottia Shukti Bhorta: Out of all the foods I've tried over the past 362 days, this one has to be one of the most exotic and unusual, and it also comes with a great story. While doing some shopping on Buford Highway a few weeks ago, I noticed a Bangladeshi grocery that was pretty close to the Buford Highway Farmers Market. I was desperate for new items that day, and since I'd never been to a Bangladeshi market, I figured it couldn't hurt to check it out.

Once inside, I noticed that the inventory was similar to what I've seen at other Indo-Pak groceries, but as I started browsing the frozen section, I saw something that I absolutely could not identify. The small, square package was labeled "lottia shukti bhorta," and there were no pictures at all on the box. Hmm. I looked at the ingredients, and the main ingredient was, umm, "lottia shukti." That didn't help me at all, but the other ingredients included many familiar Indian spices (garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin), so I decided to give it a go despite knowing almost nothing.
Once I got ready to pay, the counter attendant looked at me quizzically and asked "you from here?" I guess he was confused by my selection. I said yes, then he asked me if I'd ever tried it. I said no, and asked him what was in it. He said "fish," and I when I asked him if it was good, he said yes. I'm pretty sure he called his friends after I left and told them about the young American guy who just bought some lottia shukti bhorta.

Anyway, I finally decided to give this one a try tonight with my dinner as a side. Once I opened the box, the contents (which looked a lot like collard greens) were inside a small plastic container, and when I opened the lid, I immediately noticed the smell. Wow - not good. Actually, it kind of reeked of rotting garbage. I really hoped it tasted better, so I microwaved the container according to the package instructions and hoped for the best.

Once the heating process began, I noticed that my apartment was filling up with the rotting garbage smell that I noticed earlier. You know that odor that a garbage truck has on a hot summer day? It was a lot like that. Once I took it out of the microwave, the stench got worse. I didn't know how I was going to choke down a bite, but the show had to go on. I put a small portion on my fork and tried it, but I just couldn't get past that god-awful smell. What I did manage to taste was a salty, fishy, super-spicy mix that wasn't at all palatable to me, and I almost barfed in the sink while spitting it out. Yeah, it was that bad. 
Out of all the things I've tried, this was by far the worst. No question. The smell alone was enough to make me choke, but I had to try it. After I threw it out (sealed in a Ziploc bag), I guzzled a full glass of water, then lit matches in the kitchen to kill the smell. Oh, and I also cleaned the microwave. I'm not joking.

In case you're still wondering what "shukti" is, it refers to a dried fish that's popular in Bangladeshi cuisine. The fish is usually mixed with spices and other ingredients. I don't recommend this stuff to anyone - maybe it's one of those things you have to grow up on to enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. If the lottia part of the name is what I think it is, then what you ate was a currified/spiceified version of what in the UK is called Bombay Duck.

    Bombay Duck is a British Colonial nickname for a fish called bomil. And lottia is, I'm pretty sure, an alternate Asian name for the same fish, I think. It smells quite strong in dried form, and stinks up your kitchen.

    Here in UK, Bombay Duck, fried crisp, is very much a delicacy for curry lovers.