Batter Fried Fish (Bengali style)
This post is special for a number of reasons. You see sometimes you need a bit of push to do what you love the most. So here is the deal. With Kolkata Food Blogger's 'Durga Puja Bhuri Bhoj I got the right kind of inspiration to make this dish.
The point is that, you may take the girl away from Calcutta but you can't take the fish away from her. Yes my dear readers I am in a fish heaven. I was initially apprehensive about Bombay aka Mumbai because it was unfamiliar territory for me but once I discovered the local supermarket which might not have the fish that I am familiar with in Calcutta but has a world of delightful fish, there is fresh Sardine and Mackerel and fresh Tuna. Oh I was excited and delighted.
Now the point is these fish gives you the opportunity to make wonderful healthy meals especially suitable for salads, pasta etc . Back home most of the fish we eat is fresh water fish and has tiny bones all over them and it is a delight for Bengalis to eat those fish and take out the bones while eating but they don't give too much of opportunity to be cooked in any other form than the traditional Bengali recipes which has its own charm but then no other fish can take the place of the sweet 'Bhetki' a large fish with a single bone which is mostly used for fillets and it is this same fish which is used for the famous Bengali fish fry (breadcrumb coated deep fried fillets ) or the batter fried fish served on special occasions.
With the famous festival round the corner I was thinking how lovely it would have been to indulge in some batter fried fish but all I had in the house was basa fish which has its own delight but then for me batter fried fish instantly meant the Bhetki fish. While I was preparing myself to indulge in some nostalgia I realized there are a million other Bengalis who are away from home craving batter fried fish. While the taste of bhetki cannot be imitated I have heard about Tialpia being its replacement but to be fair neither did the fish market have tilapia this particular day nor was bhetki available and so I used basa .
So this recipe I dedicate to all those people who have had to make a home away from home.
Wait there is more. I have a creamy lemony homemade dip for the batter fried fish as well.
Before I share a recipe I must tell you about my friend Pritha , a lady with amazing culinary enthusiasm. Check out her delightful recipe for Bengali Fish Croquets (Macher Chop) another delightful Bengali indulgence to be taken with a cup of tea or just like that
For the Batter fried fish
200gm Boneless fillet (While its ideal to use Bhetki you can use any boneless fish fillet)
2 tsp smooth garlic paste
1.5 tsp smooth ginger paste
Half a medium sized onion
2 green chilies
Salt as per taste
2 tsp oil
For the batter :-
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1.5 tbsp gram flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp hot oil
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
For the dip
300gm curd which is drained of water by hanging it in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth
3 large cloves of garlic
Juice from half a lemon
Salt as per taste
1/3rd cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 tbsp chives
First make your hand curd and while the water from the curd is being drained marinate your fish by making a smooth paste with the garlic paste, ginger paste, onion and green chilies and the oil. Leave it for half an hour. Now you'l see some of the marinate sticking to the bottom of the bowl.
In the meantime make the dip and chill it. Simply blend the garlic with salt , extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and then whisk in the hung curd and the smooth blend of garlic oil and lemon juice , add finely chopped chives and chill it.
Don't worry simply transfer the marinated fish to another bowl and 1/4th cup of water in the same bowl in which you have marinated the fish and mix well. Preserve this water
Now take a large bowl , one where you can easily dip the fish and make the batter by mixing the dry ingredients (Flour , gram flour and rice flour) and then slowly add the water from the bowl in which the fish was marinated to make a smooth batter. Add a pinch of salt and and 1/4th cup water .
Now here is a trick for crispy batter fried fish. Heat the oil for frying and use 1 tbsp of the hot oil in the batter and whisk well. There is also the two time fry method.
Now dip the fish in the batter and deep fry it on low heat for about 2 minutes on either side and keep aside. Just before serving fry the already fried fish on medium heat for about 30 seconds on each side and you'l be delighted with the crispiness. Serve with the dip and enjoy.
Important tips :-
- You must always fry the batter fried fish in low heat else it will quickly burn on the outside leaving the insides uncooked.
- Rice flour added to the batter lends its crispiness. I have used the old fashioned method but in modern times people use cornflour with a pinch of baking soda as well.
- The two time fry method helps make the fish extremely crispy.
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