Sukhua is the colloquial name for dried fish in Odisha. The people of this coastal state delightfully enjoy the taste and health benefits of this dish.
The state of Odisha is very well known for its excellent and unique cuisine. The state's people are die-heart foodies and love exploring the different variety of foods. Due to its geographical location, Odisha has massive access to seafood. It has a coastline of 485 kilometres which justifies the abundance of seafood in the state. While seafood may seem like luxury food for the people of landlocked states, the people in Odisha relish seafood very often as part of their regular diet. A variety of fish can be seen being sold in the fish markets. While most people enjoy having freshly caught fish, many cherish having dried fish, Sukhua. Sukhua translates to something that has been dried. The anglers sundry the caught fish traditionally, which can be stored for an extended time. Historically this process of sun-drying fish and keeping them for a prolonged period started to prevent the loss caused by excess catch and low sales, and this also helped increase the fish trade in distanced places. And this process continues to be done in the same way to date.
Sukhua is at times preserved using salt after sun drying. Apart from the physical variety of Sukhua, Khainga, Karandi, Illish, Pomfret, Todi, Pohala, and Tuari are the significant ones in the market and luni (salted) & aluni (unsalted) as their two versions. The small fishes take 3-5 days to dry with natural sea salt in them, and the large fishes may take a longer time, so anglers fill the stomach of the large fishes with more salt to dry quickly.
Sukhua is a go-to dish, especially during winters, because of its nutritional benefits that help with arthritis issues. It has nutrients like calcium, vitamin B9, vitamin E, and proteins that help older people survive winter. This is the most significant reason for its popularity in the coastal belt.
The smell of Sukhua is very strong, and many people are intolerant to it and thus refrain from eating it. The scent intensifies even more while cooking Sukhua, making it difficult for anyone to even stay near the kitchen. But the taste stands out from all. Sukhua, Pakhala, Badichura, and Tomato chutney are delightful breakfast deals for most Odias. You can find people preparing Sukhua according to their palette. The most preferred variety of preparation includes checha Sukhua, pagaw, besara, rai ambula, and bhaja.