Cuisine India: A Spoonful History of Litti Chokha
Cuisine India: A Spoonful History of Litti Chokha: Chandragupta Maurya was the king of Magadha, whose capital Pataliputra is present-day Patna. But his empire extended to Afghanistan.
According to historians, the soldiers of Chandragupta Maurya used to keep Litti Chokha with them during the war. According to many books of the 18th century, litti chokha was the staple food of travelers traveling long distances.
Litti Chokha is a dish that hardly anyone likes. A ball of flour dough, filled with sattu, is baked on a burning bonfire, on coals or dung cakes, is called litti, and with it, fillings of vegetables like potatoes, brinjals, and tomatoes cooked on fire are made and salt is added to them. Chokha is prepared by adding oil.
This is how Bihar state’s signature dish, delicious Litti Chokha is made! It is one of the easiest dishes in the world to prepare. Neither a lot of utensils are needed to make it, nor a lot of spices and oil, even water is very less.
One of its specialties is that it does not spoil for many days, but people prefer to eat it fresh and hot. Usually, during winter, people make arrangements for dinner outside the house by lighting a bonfire.
Litti has been less a part of the Bihari women’s kitchen, and more a companion of men and travelers. Litti-chokha is something that you can make at your convenience and availability of ingredients. If there is ghee then it is good, if there is pickle and chutney then it is even better, if it is not there then also it does not matter.
This is the food of the common man. In the last few years, after the spread of Bihari workers across the country, gradually its handcarts have started appearing outside Bihar as well.
Till the 1980s, it was difficult to find litti-chokha on the roadside in Delhi, but now it has started appearing in the national capital as well and people like it a lot.
Litti Chokha: Food for Survival
The stronghold of Litti Chokha is believed to be Magadha (the region comprising Gaya, Patna, and Jehanabad). Chandragupta Maurya was the king of Magadha, whose capital was Pataliputra, but his empire extended to Afghanistan, some experts say that Chandragupta Maurya’s soldiers used to move forward easily by eating litti like things during the war.
In many books of the 18th-century litti-chokha and khichdi have been described as the main food of people on long pilgrimages.
There are also mentions that the soldiers of Tatya Tope and Rani of Jhansi preferred baati or litti, as it was very easy to cook and did not require a lot of ingredients to make it. There are also stories of the rebels of 1857 fighting by eating litti. For centuries, the farmers of Bihar used to make litti and eat it while guarding the fields, hence it is also called ‘Food for Survival’.