October 2, 2006
Fagged out from the excitement of a friend’s wedding, I could barely lift myself off the couch on Sunday. Forget about bring myself to cook anything. But my Sunday tradition of cooking an Indian meal must be upheld at any cost. Besides, if this whole sloshed on Saturday, recovering on Sunday thing continues unchecked, I’ll have no Indian food for weeks.
I took an easy option.
Years ago my father gave me a brilliant cookbook by Sanjeev Kapoor, India’s first and foremost celebrity TV chef. I found the recipe in it for traditional Bengali fish cakes called Macher Chop. The chops are super easy to make and totally addictive. I try not to cook them for guests to keep it less fiddly, but on a quiet Sunday night in front of the TV, these are just what the doctor ordered.
Here’s my recipe for 2-3:
300gm of cod loin (skinless, boneless)
2 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 green finger chillies (more if you can handle them)
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
Half cup raisins
I egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes and cook the fish. I do both in the microwave and it takes 10 minutes for the potatoes and about three for the fish in my 950W mean machine.
Chuck both in a large mixing bowl. Slice the onions and fry until golden brown. Add to the mixing bowl. Then chop the green chillies and coriander leaves, and add to the mixing bowl with the vinegar, turmeric and seasoning.
Use your hands to mash the potatoes and fish, mixing the lovely masala mixture in. Taste to make sure there’s enough salt.
When the mixture looks evenly distributed, fashion it into croquettes about 2 inches long and 1 inch thick, dip in the egg and roll in breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil and shallow fry the little pieces of loveliness until they are golden brown all around.
Enjoy with salad and a selection of sauces – ketchup, tabasco and sweet chilli.
Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”
[…] So I am back from the land of Avian Influenza. Chicken is strictly off the menu there. And so are eggs, obviously. Which has left all Bengalis (mother included), baffled about how to bind their beloved chops. […]
Hello Partha – I too am a Bengali who has grown up in Kolkata. I happen to know chops can be of two types – one with the potato coating you have described and the other like the one I have written about above. I would know, because I am almost old from eating the chop explained above outside Academy of Fine Art and Gariahat, beside Kimbadanti kurta store.
Fancy making a trip there yourself to verify my claim? You are right that we live to eat though…
This is not a chop – it is a fish cake or a croquette ! A Bengali style “chop” has a boiled potato shell with the appropriate filling cooked separately and then stuffed inside the shell. The shell is then dipped in egg wash and then breadcrumbs and finally fried. It is more painful than a croquette recipe … but Bengalis don’t mind that – we live to eat! That is a Bengali “chop” – I should know I am a Bengali !
What a great blog you have started. I really love Indian food and it’s great to hear from someone so passionate about great food. I noiticed your recipe for Bengali Fishcakes,yum, that is a fantastic recipe!
I thought that maybe you could use this recipe in other ways as well. Perhaps you could substitute fish for other meats like chicken perhaps. Obviously it might not be authentic but I think it would be quite good.