A family favorite and a unputdownable item from my family’s Nyara Jaggi, Topse Maacher Fry! Can we imagine a traditional Bengali Wedding without the “Aiburobhat” Ceremony or a family gathering on the morning of the wedding! No, we just can’t; a traditional Bengali marriage is incomplete without the bunch of “Nyara Jaggi” (ন্যাড়া যজ্ঞি). This is a typical term used by the North Calcuttans and mostly by the Ghoti community where Nyara means less important than marriage (but required) and Jaggi is nothing but the program.
The day before a marriage in Bengal is celebrated as “Aiburobhat and on that day a typical traditional lunch is served to the bride or groom in their respective houses as their last lunch before marriage and close relatives are also start joining them to cherish the typical bong lunch. Now you may ask why I am elaborating Nyara Jaggi here! Well, nothing but to introduce Topse Maacher Fry which is a very common item served as part of lunch gatherings at least in my place. I can’t remember a single event in my ancestral place when Topse Fry was not there as part of the lunch. Not only the morning of Aiburobhat or Marriage but any gathering for lunch including Rice eating ceremony or Birthdays “Topse Fry” is served and loved by the Bongs.
December is my favorite month for cooking and baking! This is the time when I bake a lot; cook a lot and use lots of fresh ingredients and local fish while cooking. Nowadays, I am picking “Topse Maach” almost every alternate week from my nearby market given fresh Topse is now available in abundant in moderate price. Topse fish is a small-sized fish from the sweet water and known as Mango fish. This fish is characterized by the presence of soft bones and amazing taste. Though Topse fish can be prepared in form of a fish curry but in my place, we mostly prepare Topse Fry or Topse fish fry. Topse fry is, in fact, a very popular fish dish and is a signature Bengali Recipe. Fried Topse or Topse Fry is mostly served with plain rice and Daal and often served as a teatime snack.
Usually, whole Topse Maach is fried after coating with a batter of Besan (Gram Flour) and spices. Little Rice Flour is added to make the outer crust crunchy. Given Topse is a fish with soft bone, it is fried whole inclusive of the bones while making the fry.
- Whole Topse Maach / Mango Fish: 6-8
- Lemon Juice: 2 Tbsp.
- Turmeric Powder: ½ Tsp.
- Salt: ½ Tsp.
- Gram Flour: 8 Tbsp.
- Rice Flour: 2 Tbsp.
- Kashmiri Chili Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Turmeric Powder: ½ Tsp.
- Onion Seed / Nigella Seed / Kalo Jeera: 1 Tsp.
- Onion Paste: 2 Tbsp.
- Garlic Paste: 1 Tsp.
- Ginger Paste: 1 Tsp.
- Green Chili: 3-4
- Baking Soda: a pinch
- Salt: ½ Tsp. (or more)
- Mustard Oil / Refined Oil: as required for deep frying
- Wash and clean whole Topse fish thoroughly. Cleaning can be done through the fish seller.
- Sprinkle some Lemon Juice, Turmeric Powder and Salt over clean fishes and marinade for around 1 hour.
- Now take Gram Flour, Rice Flour, Kashmiri Chili Powder: 1 Tsp, Turmeric Powder, Onion Seed, Baking Soda and Salt in a blow and mix properly.
- Extract Juice from Onion Paste, Ginger Paste, and Garlic paste and mix that juice with the Flour mixture.
- Add 75 ml of water to the flour mix and make a lump-free semi-thick (1 string consistency) batter.
- Now heat Oil in a wok and coat each marinated fish with the batter and fry one by one in medium flame until the fish turned golden brown by the outer coat.
- This took me 2 minutes in medium flame for frying one side of the fish.
- Fry fishes from the other side too.
- Strain from Oil and soak excess oil using Kitchen tissue paper.
- Serve Topse Maacher fries hot with Rice and Bhaja Moong er Daal or enjoy it with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
Topse Maacher Fry can be best served with Boiled Rice, Bhaja Moong er Daal and any side dish including Aloo Phulkopir Dalna. However , I love to have Topse Fry with a cup of hot coffee as evening snack especially on Sundays whenever I have a book to finish and to relax.
Few more traditional Bengali Fish delicacies apart from Topse Maacher Fry from Debjanir Rannaghar:
Try Bori Begun Aloo diye Ilish Macher Tel Jhol or Doodh Maach or Shutki Chingri Bhorta or Aloo Fulkopi diye Macher Jhol or Aloo Chingrir Shorshe Bata Diye Jhal for the typical bong style fish experience.