Some people may sneer at 'chyapa shutki', a semi-dried traditional fermented fish. But to many, from different districts of greater Mymensingh, chyapa shutki means a mouth-watering food item.
In fact, the fame of "Hasu's chyapa shutki" of Mymensingh has reached people in many parts of the country and Middle East countries for its quality and smell.
Hasu Mia from village Savar in Nandail upazila sells self-made chyapa shutki three days a week at Nandail municipality market. This semi-dried fish is sold for Tk1,200 per kg.
Every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, there is a huge rush at his shop, traders and buyers at the market told The Business Standard.
During a recent visit, TBS found a huge rush of buyers in front of Hasu Mia's stall.
Fozunnesa, a local resident who buys chyapa, also called hiddal, told TBS, "There are many producers of chyapa in the market. But all are not of the same quality. So, I buy from Hasu Mia around the year."
Rukon Uddin, a buyer from Kishoreganj, said, "The quality and smell of Hasu's chyapa is very different from others. So, I have come to the market to buy this for my mother."
But this fame did not come overnight. It is only in the last four years that Hasu Mia's chyapa shutki has become a popular name although he has been in the trade for a long time.
Many online sellers also buy Hasu's chyapa and sell those in different areas of the country on social media platforms.
Hasu Mia said, "I sell shutki worth Tk35 lakh-40 lakh annually. I appointed two persons to help me with the business."
Not only people from different parts of the country, Bangladeshis living in different countries buy Hasu's goods.
He applies traditional fermentation methods for making chyapa shutki.
About the process, Hasu said he needs better quality puti fish, the key ingredient. After cleaning very well, the fish is dried in light sunlight. Then the semi-dried puti fish is kept in underground matka – pear-shaped earthenware – for making the famous chyapa.
It takes a few months to complete the whole process.
"The usual period of maturation is six-seven months," Hasu Mia said.
He said, "I do not use salt in making shutki and apply some other process which makes my produce different from others."
However, he won't disclose those techniques.
Hasu Mia said keeping the quality of his shutki intact is the key reason for attracting consumers from various districts.
"I have a plan to boost production keeping its quality intact," he said.