There are other shops selling dried fish at Aruail Bazar under Brahmanbaria Sarail, but a particular shop draws most of the buyers who line up in front of it to buy Shidol, a specially prepared dried fish, despite that the price here is higher compared to other shops.
Asked about the secret, Pran Bandhu Das, owner of the shop, said, "When others use palm oil to prepare Shidol from dried Bashpata fish, I use fat of Puti fish, which creates a unique scent and taste."
"Because of this unique taste and scent, our Shidol (dried fish) is very popular among people in the region," he adds.
In recent years, Shidol has become popular in Brahmanbaria and Sylhet region although it is mainly popular in northern districts for a long time.
Pran Bandu Das has established himself as a dedicated Shidol trader over the last 16 years though he has been involved in the dried fish business for about 40 years.
Per kg Shidol is sold for Tk600 at his shop for its quality and unique taste while other shops sell it for Tk400-450 per kg. His daily sale is worth Tk15,000 while pre-pandemic daily sale was Tk30,000-35,000.
With this, his monthly sale stood at Tk450,000. After bearing all expenses, he earns Tk45,000 monthly.
People from different areas—mainly residents of Pakshimul and Aruail unions of the upazila–come to buy Shidol from the shop. Some of them even send the delicacy to their relatives abroad.
About its preparation, Pran Bandhu says he buys Banspata dried fish from Chattogram, sort them, wash them well and brush them with Puti fish fat moderately. Then those are kept in large pots and left there for six months. Each pot contains 40-45 kg dried fish. Then those become suitable for sale.
"My whole family is involved in the entire process of making Shidol at home," he adds.
Suruj Ali, a local resident, said he has been buying Shidol from this shop for 10 years. The scent and taste is unique.
"I also send Shidol to my son, who is now abroad," he adds.
Another customer Mansoor Ali said people crowd Pran Bandhu Das's shop because everyone knows that his Shidol is free from adulteration and unique in taste although its price is a bit higher than other shops.
Pran Bandhu said, "Many buyers send our Shidol to their loved ones abroad as they believe we do not compromise on quality."
"Their confidence plays a significant role in making me a dedicated Shidol trader. We always give priority to customers' satisfaction, rather than mere profit," he adds.
Ratan Das, son of Pran Bandhu Das, said, "We do our best to keep its quality intact. People are fond of our shidol very much thanks to its good quality. We do not sell wholesale so that general customers can buy it as much as they want."
Haji Abu Taleb, general secretary of Aruail Bazar Committee, said Pran Bandhu makes the dried fish very cleanly. People like their dried fish a lot as the quality of those is very good.