Calcutta Chicken Croquettes

My maternal grandfather died young of the demon drink, leaving my grandmother with two young children. Fortunately she met my step-grandfather, an extremely wealthy Sephardic Jew from Calcutta. For years she refused to marry him because he was a Jew and she was a Catholic. They lived together in great luxury with sixty indoor servants in what is now the British Residency in Singapore. I was reminded of this excellent dish by Claudia Roden’s brilliant Book of Jewish Food and dug out my step-great grandmother’s version.


  • 225g/8 oz cold basmati rice (cook and drain but don’t rinse, to leave in the starch)
  • 450g/1 lb finely minced chicken
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 5–7.5cm/2–3in piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch flat parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp chicken fat or vegetable oil for frying


In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except the chicken fat or oil. If the rice is not sticky enough you can add an egg to bind. This can be done in a food processor but I feel the resulting mixture doesn’t have enough texture. Form into 5cm/2in croquettes and fry in the hot chicken fat or oil until deep gold.