History of Litti and Chokha: The importance of Litti Chokha to Bihar is similar to the importance of Rosogolla to West Bengal. Litti Chokha, a remarkable dish which comes from the state of Bihar, is not only popular in India today, but has also made a special mark globally.
Litti Chokha of Bihar, which can be catapulted as the part of their ethos and culture, originated centuries ago as a staple food in the court of Magadha. 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. This dish underwent many changes as new rulers came in.
During the Mughal period, emperors were served Littis with payas and shorbas. Eventually, Litti came to Bihar and was paired with Chokha (a mix of grilled brinjal or boiled potatoes with chilies, onion, and other spices). Rustic way of cooking adds real flavour in Litti and Chokha but these days it is not possible for people to go rustic, hence we make it either on the gas oven tandoor or the OTG and micro-oven. But the taste of these are different from the ones cooked in the earthen way.
Rustic Way of Cooking Litti and Chokha
Goitha - Goithas are cow dung cakes which are used in many villages even today for cooking, this might sound tacky but it’s true. It’s just not Litti and Chokha which is cooked on these cakes but people cook a variety of dishes. The taste of the food cooked in Goitha is heavenly good.
Wood Charcoal - This is another form of rustic cooking, we do this even today. Unlike Gotha’s these are easier to handle and also easily available. Cooking with wood charcoal is just like barbequing. Wood charcoal adds that earthiness to the food being cooked and that too taste absolutely delicious.
How to Serve Litti and Chokha
Put Chokha in a bowl, dip hot Litti in melted Ghee and serve hot with green coriander chutney. Litti can also be broken through the centre and then ghee can be poured on top, this way it reaches the stuffing too. The aroma, the flavours are divine enough to captivate all your senses.
Sanjiv Kumar Sharma
Assistant Professor (Sr.G), School of Hospitality & Tourism Studies
Shri Ramasamy Memorial University Sikkim, India