As the story goes, one day just on a whim, the British memsahib decided to enter the smoky kitchen where half a dozen cooks, masalchis (helpers who grind spices or masalas), and sundry assistants were busy preparing the dinner. Everything looked alright, from an Indian perspective, except for the strange piece of cloth that the cook was using to strain the soup. On closer examination, the memsahib found that to be one of the socks of her husband, the British sahib!
When the memsahib screeched in astonishment, the cooks patiently explained that there was nothing to worry as they were NOT using one of the clean socks of the sahib!
Imagine the bewilderment of the British who land up in India in the 17th century to discharge their “white man’s burden” of civilising the natives. Proud of their clothes, weaponry, language and culture, they first encounter the Maharajas and their fabulous palaces whose wealth and opulence makes the English royalty feel like paupers. And then at royal repasts, they are bombarded with so many strange spices and flavours that go much beyond the simple salt and pepper that were more or less the only “spice” they were accustomed to back home.
But to the credit of the British, they never gave up. They adapted the humble Indian dal (lentil curry) to substitute for their soups. They introduced baking and use of cheese. They got Indians to grow all kinds of European vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, bell peppers and even potato.
The “fusion” recipes that thus evolved under the British Raj were initially preserved and passed on by the Khansamas (cooks) of Clubs, Government Dak Bungalows or State Guest Houses scattered all over India. Now quite a number of restaurants and hotels carry out those traditions with great aplomb.
In that background, today we present a recipe called “Fish Chop” from the days of the Raj. This is mostly a continental recipe but with an Indian twist.
This dish also uses garam masala but is more suited for dinners than snacks. Most clubs prefer to make this dish with chicken or mutton mince as they are more easily available. That makes this quite a rare gourmet dish. If you have an Air Fryer, this recipe can also be prepared without deep frying.
Sliced Fish- 250 grams (9oz) (1 cup)
Note: If frozen, please thaw the fish first.
Onions (chopped) – 2
Ginger (chopped) – 1 teaspoon
Garlic (chopped) – 1 teaspoon
Green Chillies (deseeded and finely chopped) – 2
Black pepper (crushed) – ¼ teaspoon
Cumin seeds (Jeera) – ½ teaspoon
Garam Masala– ½ teaspoon
Tip: If you can’t get ready-made garam masala mixture from a nearby Indian store, you can make yours by using 1 black cardamom, 3 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, and 1 inch cinnamon-all ground together for this dish.
Tomato ketchup- 1 tablespoon
Fresh coriander (Cilantro) leaves (finely chopped) – 2 tablespoon
Raisins- 1 tablespoon
Salt- 1/4 teaspoon or to taste
Cooking oil- 1 tablespoon
For the covering:
Potatoes (boiled and mashed) – 1/2 Kg (18oz) (2 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
Wheat flour- 2 tablespoon
Bread crumbs- ½ cup
Water- 1/4 cup
Cooking Oil (enough to deep fry) – depends on the size of your wok/deep frying pan
In a deep pan, put the fish and pour water to cover the fish.
Put this on your heat source and bring it to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
Switch off the heat source and take out the fish.
If you are using a fish with bones, let the fish become cool enough to touch. Then debone the fish carefully.
Otherwise use a fork to mash up your boneless fish right away. Keep aside.
Place a pan on your heat source and put one tablespoon of cooking oil.
As soon as the oil heats up, add the cumin seeds.
In a few seconds the cumin will splutter and brown. Immediately add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger.
Sauté till it starts changing colour and gives off a nice aroma.
Now add the mashed fish and rest of the ingredients. Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes.
Switch off the heat source.
Meanwhile take the mashed potatoes and add salt and pepper.
Take two tablespoon of this mixture in your hands and make a hole in the middle.
Fill the hole up with the fish mixture and roll into an egg shape.
Make sure that the fish mixture is covered well with the potato on all sides.
Repeat till all the fish is thus shaped.
Now make the coating:
In another bowl, mix together the egg, wheat flour and water well.
In a plate, spread the bread crumb.
Take out one piece of fish chop at a time, and dip it into the egg-flour mixture.
Then take the fish chop out and gently roll it on the plate with breadcrumbs so that it is evenly coated.
Do this with all the fish chops.
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok.
Take 2 fish chops and gently slide into the hot oil.
Gently turn them around and take out from the oil when they are nice and golden brown.
Remove to a plate and add the next batch to the oil.
Repeat till all the fish chops are fried.
Please ensure that the fish does not burn.
Your Fish Chops are ready.
If using an Air Fryer
Pre-heat the Air Fryer at 200 degree C (392 degrees F) for 5 minutes.
Follow all the preparatory steps listed above till you come to frying in oil.
With a silicon brush, gently brush the coated fish chops with a little oil on all sides.
Place the fish chops in the Air Fryer in a way that all pieces remain separate and NOT on top of one another.
Fry for 8 minutes at 200 degree C (392 degrees F).
Repeat till all the fish chops are fried.
Prep time: 20 minutes; Plus 5 minutes if using the Air Fryer
Cooking time: 2 minutes @ each batch for wok/pan; 8 minutes@ each batch for Air Fryer
Total time: Approximately 40 minutes for wok/pan; 65 minutes for Air Fryer
[This is an Excerpt from my book ‘The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Fish the Indian Way’ which is currently available for just $0.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME on all major e-retailers such as Amazon, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc.]