There are several Western or Chinese recipes where fish is fried dipped in batters which use milk or egg. In Tamil Nadu the batter that is used for the preparation of Bhajjis (vegetable slices dipped and fried in batter) is used to fry fish also. Bhajji batter is made chiefly of Bengal Gram flour, and the result is a wonderfully crisp coating with soft fish inside.
Bengal Gram flour has a very strong flavour. Therefore one can use curry powders to give contrast (see Notes). The batter that I have used here differs from Bhajji batter in that sombu (aniseed) powder is also added. It is an exotic dish, and therefore occupies pride of place in many feasts. It can also be packed for lunch to spice up a workday meal.
On an average, 100 g of fish contains 19 g of excellent protein. Each fish used here may weigh about 100 g. The Bengal Gram flour also contributes a large amount of vegetable protein, and the oil used for deep frying adds to the energy value. Batter fried fish is a very high protein and high energy preparation.
- 500 g or 6 cleaned fish with/without head or Fillets – Large Anchovy (Nethili), Silver Belly (Karapodi), or Croaker (Panna)
- ½ C Bengal Gram Flour
- ¼ C Rice Flour
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- ½ tsp Sombu Powder (Aniseed)
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/8 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
- ¼ C Water, or more
- Vegetable Oil for deep frying
- Wash and drain the fish. Rub half a teaspoon of salt on the fish.
- Prepare a thick batter using the flours (Bengal gram and rice) and the powders (chilli, turmeric, aniseed) and the remaining half teaspoon of salt and baking soda.
- Heat the oil in a kadai or a wok to just below smoking point.
- Dip the fish in the batter. Coat all sides.
- Drop the fish gently into the oil 2 or 3 at a time.
- Once the fish is cooked on one side, gently turn it over and cook till the batter is golden brown.
- Remove and drain in paper towels.
- Do not use scaly fish. If you happen to use them make sure that not even a tiny scale is left on the fish.
- Instead of aniseed and chilli powders, you can use other curry powders like Chicken 65, Tandoori Masala, or chicken/mutton masala. The Madras Curry Powder is not really suited for this recipe.
- I prefer to use Kashmiri Chilli Powder as it has a mild flavour.