Chitol kopta

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals

Bengali Cooking

By Chitrita Banerji

Published 1997

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For Chitol kopta (or fishballs in sauce) for four people, 500 g (1 lb) of fish will be enough. In Bengal the flesh is scooped away from the skin of the bony back portion with a spoon, but you have to be careful to move the spoon the way the bones are laid. If it moves against them, the bones will come away with the fish. To make the fishballs, first boil and finely mash 2 medium potatoes. Mix these very thoroughly with the lump of fish. Though chitol, being very sticky, does not need this as a binder, I find the potatoes make the texture soft and fluffy. To the fish and potato mixture add some salt, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 medium onion chopped very fine and 1 beaten egg. Mix all of these together to make a tight dough-like lump. It should not be thin or watery. Divide it into 20 round or oval balls, patting each smooth between the palms. Then heat some oil, say 120 ml (4 fl oz), in a karai and deep-fry the fishballs in it. In the hot oil they will swell up like little balloons, though they shrink later when taken out. These koptas can be served by themselves as an appetiser or snack, or just as an item with rice and dal. But mostly they are put into a thick sauce before serving with rice. For this, you need 2 finely chopped medium onions, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder, salt, sugar, 2 bay leaves and whole garom mashla (3 pieces of cinnamon, 4 cardamoms, 4 cloves). If the oil in which you have fried the fishballs has been reduced too much, you can add some fresh oil and heat it. Then throw in the bay leaves and garom mashla, fry for a couple of minutes, add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and wait till it turns to a caramel colour, after which add the other spices. Fry these well, add 500 ml (16 fl oz) of water and salt as needed. When it comes to the boil, add the fishballs and keep covered for five to six minutes. Taste for salt, add 2 teaspoons of flour to thicken the sauce and remove. Once again, you can use less or more water, depending on how much sauce you would like, and the spices will have to be adjusted accordingly. This, too, can be garnished with coriander leaves. Or you can mix in a small handful of freshly chopped mint to the fish mixture before making the fishballs.