For a nation with as much cultural and regional diversity as ours, it is no shocker that the locals have a trademark dish for every region that speaks volumes about their identity. While strolling around in Dilli Haat at the time of Bihar Cultural Utsav’ 2016, I came to know about ‘Litti Chokha’ touted as one of the best dishes served in the place.
The baked dough called ‘Litti’ shares a resemblance with the famous Rajasthani cuisine ‘Baati’ except it’s spicy. It is the round mound of baked flour that is stuffed in with the fried gram flour powder, ‘Sattu’ seasoned with the mixture of black pepper, ajwain, mustard, ginger, garlic, lemon, and salt. The bowl of smoked eggplant, potato, and tomato gravy called “Chokha” is served along on the platter.
Litti Chokha of Bihar, which can be catapulted as the part of their ethos and culture, is originated centuries ago as a staple food in the court of Magadh. With the passage of time, it imbibed the best and most suitable changes in culture that swept through Bihar with the incoming of mighty Mughals who savoured the dish with shorbas and payas, and the exotic Britishers that liked it with curry, and so forth.
However, Litti emerged as a ‘brave sepoy’, when the rebels virtually survived on it during the Mutiny of 1857. Tantia Tope, Rani Lakshmi Bai, and the likes chose it as their ‘food for survival’ as it can be baked without any utensils or much water in the jungles and ravines, and stays in eat-worthy condition for more than 48 hours.
Today, the simple yet tasty Litti has become a premier grub in Bihari meals, famous bite in the railway stations, and the chic food for Bihari socialites’ gathering. Talking to a person associated with the brand “Mr. Littiwala”, I realized that the locals surely love and revere their Litti and Chokha, and are sentimentally motivated to brand their food all over the country and have it recognized as gourmet’s choice!