Bengali bhetki fish fry recipe – a Bengali style crispy fish cutlet recipe

Bengali bhetki fish fry recipe aka Bengali style crispy fish cutlet recipe step by step with pictures. Bengali fish fry means a deep-fried crunchy fish cutlet. For making this recipe, masala marinated boneless fish fillet(mainly bhetki fillet) coated in breadcrumbs & deep fried in vegetable oil unless crisp. Among Bengalis, this fish fry is a common name as a perfect evening snack to the wonderful starter, hugely popular in Kolkata aka West Bengal as street food.

Though we(Bengalis) describe it as fish fry for ages, it’s actually a recipe for the crispy fish cutlet. In this cutlet recipe, boneless fish fillet basically boneless bhetki fillet is being used to well marinate in a combined masala containing lemon juice and onion, ginger, garlic, green chilli paste, then nicely coated in breadcrumbs to deep fry it in vegetable oil.

Authentic Bengali fish fry aka fish cutlet is mainly prepared with bhetki aka vetki fish(known as Indian sea bass in English). Bhetki is perfect for making this fish cutlet for 3 reasons, 1. bhetki is a soft meat fish, 2. it is delicious in taste 3. bhetki has fewer bones, so can make boneless fillets. That’s why their jugalbandi(যুগলবন্ধী) got hit in Indian food history. That might be the reason Bengalis can not think about fish fry(aka cutlet) without bhetki fish. Since then we Bengali believe the authentic taste of fish cutlet only comes with bhetki, not any other fish.

We Bengalis are popular for being love to eat fish and that is the basic reason for our experiments with fish recipes. And I personally believe recipes like fish cutlet is part of the successful experiments of our Bengali kitchen. Generally, Indian fish fry indicates the recipe where well marinated whole fish or fish pieces in spices & used to deep fry in oil. Even in bong’s kitchen, simply fish fry indicates the same as a common Indian fish fry recipe. But when we specifically talk about this Bengali starter fish fry, this dish is totally different from other states of India.

As per the history of Bengali fish fry, it was probably invented in the British era when Kolkata was the capital of India. Though initially, it was only prepared in the kitchen of modern Bengali society, later different cafes in Kolkata started making this recipe. And they earned fame for being such interesting Bengali starters. Mitra cafe, Dilkhusa cabin, Basanta cabin, Allen kitchen, and many more old traditional Kolkata cafes from the pre-independence period are the names that introduced us to this wonderful fish starter.

rectangular shaped bengali bhetki fish fry is served in a black plate(kept on a peach cloth napkin) with kasundi(bengali mustard sauce) in a small white bowl & tomato ketchup in a small bottle, sliced onion tomato salad in a white plate garnished with mint leaves kept on a wooden tray

When we were in school then only a few people started to add this fancy fish starter to their menu of the marriage ceremony. And we were very excited if this Bengali crispy fish fry would exist on the menu of any marriage ceremony. And we would eagerly wait for our turn when this crunchy Bengali fish cutlet will be served. It was served with Bengali mustard sauce or kasundi and some salads. And I can also remember when we dip it into the kasundi and take a bite with some onion-cucumber salads that were a perfect bliss to me and you don’t believe still I feel the same with its every bite.

From my childhood, I’ve seen my dad, does not like outside food. In our childhood days every winter my dad used to take Bhetki or Bhekti fillet from the market, especially on Sundays. Later my mom used to marinate it after lunch to serve it in the evening or just before our dinner as a starter. So my siblings and I were eagerly waiting for the winter to relish one of our favourite snacks Bengali fish cutlet at home. And still, whenever we go to Kolkata my dad takes bhetki fillet from the market & my mom makes our favourite Bengali fish cutlet “fish fry”. Firstly Mom’s own preparation & secondly homemade is just awesome.

Today, I will share the Bengali fish cutlet recipe along with some tricks and tips. With these tricks and tips, can easily make this authentic Bengali fish cutlet at home with the awesome taste and amazing crunch. It’s my Mom’s recipe which was passed on to me, &  later I just add a few tricks to enhance its crunch. Here, I’ve described how to make this recipe with single breadcrumb coating and double breadcrumb coating, go with anyone.

Try this Bengali bhetki fish fry or cutlet at home and please let me know your valuable feedback by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

You may check some other Kolkata street style veg & non-veg snacks from my website, Katla macher chop, Chingri macher chop/ Prawn cutlet, Mochar chop recipe, Chicken cutlet recipe.

Bengali bhetki fish fry recipe – a Bengali style crispy fish cutlet recipe

Ingredients 

For marinating the fish

  • 7-8 pcs(≈ 200g) Boneless Bhetki fish fillet
  • 1 &1/2 cup(≈ 375 ml) Lukewarm Water
  • 1 tbsp Vinegar
  • 1 pc Medium Onion(= 1/2 Big Sized Onion)
  • 6 pcs Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 2 pcs Green Chillies
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper(Powder)
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • Salt(as required)

For coating the fish cutlet

  • 2 Eggs (For Single Coating)
  • 1 cup(=200g) Breadcrumbs(For Single Coating)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

For frying 

  • Vegetable oil/white oil/refined oil for deep frying

Prep time: 40 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Served in: 1 hr(not including 45 mins to 1 hr marination time)

Course: starter/evening snacks

Cuisine: Bengali

Served for: 8 people

Author: Moumita Paul

Instructions for making Bengali bhetki fish fry with step by step pictures

First step – Marinate the fish fillet 

  • First, wash the fish fillets(readymade or homemade making the fillets by slicing with a sharp knife).
  • Take 1&1/2 cups of lukewarm water in a bowl with 1 tbsp vinegar.
  • Add the fish fillets to it for 10 mins.
  • This step helps to remove the fish smells & tenderise the fish meat.

after adding vinegar in lukewarm water to soak bhetki fish fillets to remove the raw smell of fish & tenderise the fish meat

  • In between, grind 1 medium or 1/2 big onion, 1/2 inch ginger, 6 garlic cloves, and 2 green chillies. 
  • Make a fine paste(can add 2-3 tbsp water to make a smooth masala paste).

onion, ginger, garlic and green & red chillies in the grinder jar for making a fish cutlet masala

  • In a mixing bowl, add the onion-ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and black pepper.

bengali fish cutlet masala is kept in a white bowl adding black pepper powder to it

  • Then add lemon juice and salt. Mix it well.
  • Now masala is ready to marinate the fish.

adding lemon juice and salt to the masala paste kept in the white mixing bowl

  • Now remove the fish fillets from the water.
  • Squeeze them gently to make sure water is completely removed. 
  • Then put the fillets in the masala for marination. 

after removing from the water, marinating the bhetki fish fillets into the masala kept in white bowl

  • Then gently mix the fish fillets with the masalas.
  • Keep it for marination for 45 mins-1 hr.

bhetki fish fillets in its marination

Second step – Coat the fish fillet with breadcrumbs

  • When the fillets’ marination is done, take 2 eggs and 1/4 tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Beat it well.
  • If wants a double breadcrumb coating, use 3 eggs. 

beating 2 eggs in a glass bowl with 1/4 tsp salt to dip the fish fillets in it before coating

  •  Take 1 cup of breadcrumbs and add 1/4 tsp salt to it too. Mix it well.

adding salt in the breadcrumbs(kept in a white melamine plate) before coating coating the cutlets to make the coating tasty

  • Take the marinated fish fillets, first dip them into the beaten eggs.
  • Then nicely coat them with the breadcrumbs.

dipping the marinated fish fillet in the beaten eggs and then coat it with breadcrumbs kept in a white melamine plate

  • Fish cutlets are ready with a single breadcrumb coating.
  • If you give it a proper shape then follow the next step.

single breadcrumb coated fish fry is ready kept in a white bone china plate

  • Place the raw fish cutlet on a chopping board and shape it up with a knife.
  • As shown in the pic.

giving a perfect rectangular shape of this raw fish fry or fish cutlet by using a knife by keeping it on a wooden tray

  • If you don’t want a double breadcrumb coating, then keep all the single coated cutlets in the freezer for 15-20 mins.
  • This method will bring an awesome crunch to the cutlets.

single coated perfect rectangular shaped raw bengali fish cutlet is ready

Third step – Double breadcrumb coating

  • If wants to get a double breadcrumb coating, take 2 cups of breadcrumbs with 1/2 tsp salt.
  • For double coating, dip that single coated cutlet into the beaten eggs first.
  • Then nicely roll it in breadcrumbs & shape it up again with the knife as before.

Again dipping single coated rectangular shaped raw bengali fish cutlet in the beaten eggs(kept in a glass bowl) and then roll it in breadcrumbs for double coating to get extra crunch

  • After double-coating, keep the fish cutlets in the freezer for the same time as mentioned above.

Fourth step –  Frying bengali fish fry

  • Heat a pan, add vegetable oil/white oil/refined oil(generous amount for deep frying) and let the oil gets hot.
  • Take out the fish cutlet from the freezer and put it in hot oil.
  • Slow down the heat & fry the cutlets on low to medium heat.

rectangular shaped raw chilled bengali fish cutlet in going to hot vegetable the oil(kept in black deep fry pan) for frying

  • At a time, don’t add so many cutlets into the oil.
  • deep frying bengali fish fry in vegetable oil kept in black deep fry pan
  • Fry the cutlets until gets crisp & golden from both sides.

nice golden &crisp bengali fish fry in the black frying pan

  • Then remove the cutlets from the pan on the paper towel to soak the excess oil.

bengali fish fry is removed from the black pan and kept on the white paper towel plate for absorbing excess oil

  • Bengali fish fry or fish cutlet is ready. Serve it with kasundi or even tomato ketchup and salads.

crunchy bengali fish fry aka fish cutlet is served on a black plate(kept on peach cloth napkin) with kasundi(bengali mustard sauce) in a small white bowl, tomato ketchup in a small bottle, sliced onion tomato salad with stemless whole green chillies on heart shaped bowl, 2 more crunchy fish cutlet on another white oval plate garnish with onion tomato slices & mint leaves kept on a wooden tray

Tips

  • Adding raw bhetki fillet in lukewarm water with vinegar will be helpful to remove the smell of fish. That will also tenderize the fish.
  • The double coating is not necessary. It is a choice of yours, can go with a single coating too.
  • Use 3 eggs for double breadcrumb coating.
  • Putting raw fish cutlets in the freezer will give it an awesome crunch. I always use this trick for the best crunch.
  • After putting the cutlet in the hot oil should slow down the flame. That trick will help to cook the fish from the inside. Otherwise, the outer cover will be brown in colour but the fish remains uncooked.
  • Instead of bhetki fillet, you can use any boneless fish fillet for making this fry. Choose the boneless fish fillets as per their availability i.e, Bhetki, Basa, Tilapia, Pungus, Catfish(Magur) fillets.

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10 thoughts on “Bengali bhetki fish fry recipe – a Bengali style crispy fish cutlet recipe”

  1. where can I get Vetki fish. How many cutlets one can make out of a normal size Vetki. Please let me know as I am very interested. Thankyou.

    Reply
    • Search it in your nearby fish market or search it through online apps(preferably Indian or Bangladesh) as Barramundi or Asian sea bass…from 1 kg vetki we may get around 400 gms fish fillets… though the number of cutlets will depend on the thickness of the vetki fillets…14-16 cutlets can be made according to my recipe…however, fillets are too thick then you’ll get at least 8-10 cutlets

      Reply
  2. Can I freeze the betki and make it later ? Also, can I marinate it in the morning, keep in fridge and later, when the guests arrive, keep in freezer and fry ?

    Reply
    • Yes, you can freeze the bhetki fillets for later use. But while marinating the fillets then never keep them in the freezer(to avoid icing). You can also marinate the fillets in the morning, then keep them in the fridge(not in the freezer) for 1 hr. After 1 hr marination, you can coat the fillets with breadcrumbs, keep them in the freezer in an airtight container and fry it before your guest arrives. Even these breadcrumbs coated raw fish cutlets also can be stored in the freezer(in an airtight container or in a zip lock packet) for 2-3 days.

      Reply
  3. Instead of deep frying the crumbed filets in oil, can you paint the surface with oil and bake them in an oven? It would take longer but one should use less oil but still get the same effect?🤔

    Reply
    • Hello Mr. Anamit Sen,
      Yes, I’ve heard about an oven method too. As per that method, preheat the oven at 180°C/356°F or 360°F for 15-20 mins, take a baking tray, spray the tray with oil, place the breadcrumb coated fish fillets on the tray, bake it for 15-20 mins and our Bengali fish fry will be ready with the same crispiness coming from our traditional deep-frying method.
      Though I never try to bake it in the oven so I don’t have any personal experience of whether the crunch will still exist or not after baking. However, I don’t have any clear idea about this baking method. So I must try to make it in my oven soon and then let you know the exact result. As all of my recipes are fully tested in my kitchen first, then I share them in my blog post. So I don’t want to misguide you in any way.

      Reply

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