If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining ? – Paul Kalanithi, When breath comes Air

There are some lines which you read once in a great prose or a book or a write up and then there are some lines like above, which comes, hits you, haunts you and you keep dissecting it. Again and again. How do you interpret this?

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My experiences of Fish Fry in Chandannagore

I never had a fish fry like this recipe. My first Kolkata style fish fry was at Chandannagore, where I grew up. Deep fried to a golden brown colour or blackish brown, heavy thick and it seemed a delicacy at that point of time. Little did I understand then the true essence of the Fish fry lies in the quality of fish. Also, the fine art of a thin coating which many compromise with a heavy batter of bread crumb around is also the key. One of the best places where one can get Kolkata Style Fish Fry in Chandannagore is Bolai da’s shop near the Chandannagore Church.

Bolai da believed in transparency. So he never had ready made fish fries. He had a bowl of finely sliced fillets on the counter. They were paper thin (let’s not  forget that he was running a business) to be precise. Once the order was placed, the fillet was passed on a bowl which had egg whites and other secret ingredients. After tossing, the fillet was taken out and dumped into a heap of bread crumbs. Flipping the fillets with the breadcrumbs for several times and then defining the edges to give a shape of a rectangle. This would mean the FIsh fry making process has reached the last stage. I would watch the entire process with wonder. It was almost like a potter giving final shape to his beautiful pot.  

Have you ever had Sankar’s Fish fry in Kolkata ? I say thats the best. Read it here (Link

Most of the roadside stalls would have the ready to fry rectangular blocks and once ordered, they would be deep fried. 

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What fish is used for a Kolkata style Fish Fry?

Bhekti is the king and rules the scene here. Although Bhola bhekti is used some times and Basa is offered in disguise as Bhekti, nothing beats the taste of a Kolkata Bhekti. Having said that, fish fry can be made with any white fleshy fish. 

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This Fish fry has a twist to it when compared to Kolkata style fish fry

In this recipe, Madhushree made a sandwich of the fish fillet. She used the ‘crazy cheese’ which was sent by Urvika. She is the talented Chef and owner of erstwhile Bodega Urvika Kanoi (one of the best restaurants to open in Kolkata in the recent times and close untimely also). So this is like a double whammy. One bite is a representation of the entire range of texture. This cheese is little adult in taste (tastes can be also be adult, I knew recently). So when Madhushree made this for the son – it was with Amul cheese slices. So there is a lot you can experiement with this recipe. Once Madhushree used Bandel cheese crumbed with green chili pickle and coriander paste in the centre at Mustard Mumbai. 

Urvika went ahead to open a restaurant called The Daily. Check out our recommendations (Link)

Kolkata style Fish fry is one of the automatic choices in a line up of the Great Deep fried evening snack in Kolkata.  The others are Alur chop, beguni, chicken Pakoda, cutlet to name a few. Will it be very far away that Kolkata style Fish Fry gets compromised, reinvented or worst case, taken through a round of molecular gastronomy touch? Only time will tell. 

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Bengali New Year or Poila Boishakh and some recipes to try out

As the Bengali New year approaches and most of the restaurants are gearing up for a great spread all across. In the bhaja bhuji section, if there is Beguni or the deep fried egg plant fritters for niramish (vegetarian) people, then there is Fish Fry which epitomises as Kolkata food.This poila boishakh, we have a few of our friends and family coming over for lunch. There will be a few kids too. Hence it is important that we decide on a menu for poila boishakh which will also be child friendly.

Without a doubt, begun bhaja and fish fry will be part of the menu. Both of these are popular choices amongst one and all. For dal, we will do some shobji diye bhaja muger dal. Shukto is a must for a lunch menu. For the non vegetarians, there will be Ilish machher paturi and kumro chingri from the kitchen of Rabindranath Tagore’s house and pure vegetarians will get a taste of niramish paturi and phulkopir roast. Will end with papad, aamer ombol and bhapa aamer doi. This Poila Boishakh, if not the above, why not try this fish fry which I am sure will be a crowd pleaser? 

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Do try this recipe and share your feedback. You can reach out to us at our social media handles: InstagramFacebook or any of our personal Facebook (Madhushree and Anindyaand twitter profiles. Post a picture and tag us.

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Kolkata style Fish Fry

Madhushree Basu Roy
Bhekti mach or Kolkata Beckti has a special place in the hearts of Bengalis. This is the classic fish fry made with Kolkata Beckti with a breaded batter. The twist here is that there is a layer of cheese in between two thin fillets and the resulting fry is soft and pure indulgence.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Bengali, Indian
Servings 6 nos

Ingredients
  

  • 12 nos Beckti fillet cut into 3 by 2 inches and as less thickness as possible The size of the fillet will also depend on the size of the fish. It is important to keep the fillet as thin as possible.
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 no Maggi chicken cube or any other seasoning if you have or else just add salt as required
  • 1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp paste of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp onion juice
  • 1/2 cup cheese spread or any other cheese **
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 nos Eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • salt as required
  • oil for deep frying

Instructions
 

  • Make sure that the fillet of fish are completely dry after being washed.
  • Then make a mix of ginger garlic paste, chicken cube, lemon juice, onion juice, coriander leaf paste and salt (if required) and then rub it on the fillet and leave it for fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Then take 6 of the fillets on a plate and smear cheese spread over one side of each fillet, generous layer. If you are using cheese slice, then cut the cheese slice in the size of the fillet and place it on the fillets. You can use any herbs of your choice here or even a chili pickle.
  • Then with the other 6 fillets, cover them. So now you have 6 fish fillet sandwiches.
  • Then beat the eggs in a little flattened large bowl, where the fillet can be dipped.
  • Spread the flour on a plate and also spread the breadcrumbs on another plate.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of salt in the breadcrumbs too.
  • Now take each sandwich and first dust them with the flour, dip in the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumbs. Basically, right after taking it out from the egg, place it on the breadcrumbs. Use your hand to cover the fillet sandwich with the breadcrumbs making sure the even the edges and the sides are well coated.
  • Then place them neatly on a separate plate.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and when the oil is hot, carefully slide the fish fillet sandwiches into the frying pan. Now keep the temperature at a medium and if its burns up fast, you have to lower the heat.
  • It takes about 5 to 6 minutes for the fish to cook. Actually the amount of time taken for the fish to cook all the way through the inside also depends on the thickness of the sandwich.
  • When the fillet is a dark golden brown, take it out with a slotted spoon and place of a kitchen towel so that the excess grease is soaked out.
  • Then serve the fillet with some kashundi (ideally) or with any other favourable dip.

Notes

** I have used Crazy cheese which was gifted by Urvika Kanoi. It has many herbs in it. However, one can use any cheese spread with any seasoning or even cheese slices (which work wonder).
In Mustard Restaurant in Mumbai, I added bandel cheese with green chili pickle in the centre. 
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