Geri gugli

Traditional clam and snail recipe - Bengali dish

By Barnali Dutta Published: January 10, 2014

Have you ever tasted ‘geri-gugli’? Clam or mussels nowadays are generally considered to be unpalatable to sophisticated people, though the native peoples in India ate them extensively, easily available in the numerous ponds and rivers banks. It is so tasty , personally, whenever I go to a local market my eyes are always searching for them.

Edible clams, are often more or less rounded or oval. In Bengal it is called geri gugli. Clams are eaten more in the coastal regions of India, especially in the Konkan, Kerala, Bengal, and Karnataka regions. In Konkan region Clams are used to cook curries and side dishes, like Tisaryachi Ekshipi, which is clam with one shell on. Clams or shellfish are locally called chipchip and local fishermen sell those in rural markets and is a food for poor families. During rainy season in Bengal these are what poor people have to depend on when they cannot get rice or bread.  They have to survive on Shapla, Shaluk, (water lily) Shamuk (snails), geri, gugli (water-borne worms). It is tasty, containing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

As with all shellfish, except shrimp, mussels should be checked to ensure they are still alive just before they are cooked; enzymes quickly break down the meat and make them unpalatable or poisonous after dying or uncooked.


Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 15 min | Total time: 45 min

Yield:  4 servings | Serving size: 1 tablespoon spoon Calories per serving: _

  • Salt-free fermented fish pickle (Puthi Shidol): 2 to 3 tsp

  • Clams or snails: 250g

  • Minced garlic: 8 to 10 cloves

  • Chopped onion : 1 big

  • Grated ginger: 1 tsp

  • Green chillies: 4 to 5

  • Mastard oil: 2 tbsp

  • Turmeric and red chili paste: 2 tsp

  • Bengali garam masala - pounded cloves: 3 to 4green cardamom: 3 to 4 cinnamon: 1 inch

  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing: 2 tsp

  • Banana leaves 6" x 6"


1. First wash and cleanse the clams/snails thoroughly and immerse it completely in water. If any clams float or open up discard them.

2. Now boil the clams which were immersed in water in fresh water. The clams which DO NOT OPEN, discard them. Strain the water.

3. Take the flesh off the clams/snail.

4. Now heat oil on a flat pan and fry chopped onion until brown, then add garlic, ginger, red and green chilies paste, turmeric, salt and 1 tsp sugar. fry until oil oozes out.

5. Add fish pickle and fry another 5 minutes.

6. Now add garam masala. Let it cool down for some time.

7. Take the banana leaf, put the whole thing in the leaf and make a pouch.

8. Put the leaf pouches on a grill on low flame and roast them for 5 to 10 min. Turn them occasionally.

9. Let the leaf burn a bit as it will hold the right taste only then..

10. Open the banana pouch garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

11. Serve the curry with plain rice or fermented rice (amani or panta bhat).

In Bengal, the diet of rural people are based on mostly indigenous, local crops and livestock. Even poor people would have a small plot of land, a small pond, 1 or 2 cows, 4 to 5 hens, 2 to 3 goats, and a few ducks as assets. They would have a kitchen garden system which is less energy intensive and eco friendly. No fertilizer is needed. They can always maintain their own livelihood systems.

My kids were amazed while hearing the detailed story of the livelihood from my parents. While talking about changes of food habits my 80 years old father would say, “See, how straight I walk. This is only because I consumed pure food and breathed clean air!” Now it seems difficult to believe because we have reshaped nature according to our necessity. We never bothered about what will happen in future and now due to globalization we have adopted global foods so our natural vegetations are also neglected.