That the colonialists left an indelible impression on the canvass of Calcutta, for long, the second capital of the Empire, an empire on which the Sun never set, is an understatement at the best.
Stately edifices in a potpourri of architectural styles.
Stunning cathedrals. Inspired by the ones at home.
Lord Curzons faux Taj Mahal with the fairy at its pinnacle. Complete with even its very own Serpentine.
The exclusive clubs. And their humming watering holes.
The elaborate afternoon tea rituals.
Park Street and Hogg Market.
Bustling auction houses.
The bridge across the river.
The now-decrepit warehouses along the Strand.
The frenzied passion for football and yes, an undying love for cricket.
I in no way claim to be an expert on colonial history, and my random musings here just scrape the surface; I am sure, erudite historians have compiled voluminous anthologies on how deep-rooted the influence of the British was and still is on the very soul of the city.
And did i just hear you mention food ?
Yes, food !!! How did I ever forget food ?
Soups and stews.
Chops and cutlets.
Pastries and puddings.
But nothing more endearing to the Bengali than the fish fry. Crumb-fried. Or the Fish Batter Fry.
The cod might have been replaced by our indigenous bhetki (or should I call it beckti ?)
The beer in the batter might have been given a pass.
The chips might have been scornfully ignored.
Yet the fish-and-chips inspired fish batter fry remains to this day soul food for the gastronome Bengali.
Fish Batter Fry, Bengali style | Fish Orly
For the Marinade
- 10 sea bass or bhetki fillets (approximately 3"x 2" size)
- 2 tsps lemon juice
- 3 tsps black pepper freshly grounded
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- salt to taste
For the Batter
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup soda water
- salt to taste
For the Fish Batter Fry
- 2 tbsp flour for dusting
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- Oil for deep frying
- Marinate the fish fillets with salt, lemon juice, garlic paste, ginger paste and black pepper powder, keep aside for 3-4 hours.
- In a bowl, add the flour, rice flour, salt and baking soda, mix well.
- Add 3/4 cup of ice-cold water and 3/4 cup of soda water to the flour mix to form a thick batter, add a whipped egg white, sprinkle a little salt. Beat well. Refrigerate for 30 odd minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper, spread evenly over a plate. Roll the fillets one by one over the flour. Shake off any excess flour from the fillets, dip into the batter.
- Heat oil in a deep bottomed frying pan. Lift a fillet from the batter, allow any excess batter to drip off, carefully lower it into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown.