Machhli Ka Chokha, The Classic Side With Litti
Image Credit: Machhli or fish chokha is an excellent side dish with Litti. Image courtesy: Instagram/my_stewpot

Litti Chokha is perhaps the most popular dish from the state of Bihar that’s known to every Indian. Originating from the region of Bhojpur, Litti is basically a roasted whole wheat dough ball stuffed with a variety of gram flour known as sattu. Even when Litti isn’t a perfect round ball cooked over a tandoor while getting basted with ghee, it tastes amazing because of the sattu stuffing—after all, everything from onions and green chillies to the spicy oil from Indian pickles is added to it! Most often, the Chokha or mash that’s paired with Litti is made of potatoes or eggplant. But did you know that there’s a lesser-known variety of Chokha that is packed with flavours that can give Aloo Chokha or Baingan Chokha a run for their money? 

Made of mashed fish and spices, Machhli Ka Chokha is perhaps not that well-known as a side with Litti. This might be because the addition of fish makes this dish more expensive to prepare and sell on the streets like other versions of Litti Chokha. Instead, Machhli Ka Chokha, which originates in Champaran, is more of a household favourite, and not just with Litti. Machhli Ka Chokha can also be enjoyed with simple dal-chawal too! In fact, you can even stuff rotis or puris with this fishy Chokha and have it for a snack on the go. Need we say that it also works well as a sandwich stuffing? Of course not! 

The trick with Machhli Ka Chokha as a recipe is picking the right fish variety. Sinch the fish is mashed, it needs to be devoid of any bones, tiny or big. Large, meaty varieties of fish, like katla and mackerel, are good options. You could also go with boneless fish varieties like bhetki. Basically, go with any fish which can be filleted easily or has large bones that can be picked off easily.  

Like with any Chokha, smoking the fish and other ingredients for Machhli Ka Chokha is a critical first step. To do this, you can grill the fish—or fish fillets—in the oven or over a grill pan. If you have an old-school tandoor, you can try smoking the fish on it too. Steaming the fish is not recommended since it will never add that smokey flavour. Now, enough about the nitty-gritties. Let’s try the Macchli Ka Chokha recipe itself. 

Machhli Ka Chokha served with Madua Puris. Image courtesy: Instagram/grub_a_fare


200 g mackerel fish fillet 

1 large onion, finely chopped 

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled 

2 large green chillies 

Salt, to taste 

2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped 

1 lemon, juiced 

1 tsp oil 


1. Place the mackerel fillet with its skin-side up in a lined baking tray. Place the green chillies and garlic cloves around it.  

2. Drizzle the oil over these then bake in the over at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. The heat must be high to smoke the fish, the garlic and green chillies properly. 

3. Once the fish is grilled in the oven, take the tray out and let it cool a bit. 

4. Remove the skin from the fish and transfer the flesh to a large bowl. 

5. Peel the garlic and finely chop it. Do the same with the green chillies. 

6. Transfer the chopped garlic and green chillies to the fish bowl, and add the salt, onions and coriander leaves.  

7. Mash everything together, but be careful of fish bones. If you find any fish bones, remove them immediately. 

8. Once the fish mash is ready, drizzle the lemon juice, mix again and serve with Littis.