Uncovering The History Of Kolkata’s ‘Kobiraji Cutlet’
Image Credit: Instagram: @theforever_hungrysoul

Obsess as much as you want over the Mughlai parathas and kathi rolls, but the streets and cabins of Kolkata are truly incomplete without the cutlets and chops. Now, you don’t have to be a Bengali to know that cutlets are not native to Bengal or India for that matter. 

The British took control of Bengal in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and went on to rule India for close to 200 years. These years were also inundated with several cultural exchanges pertaining to food, they tried to incorporate some of our spices, herbs, and local delicacies in their diet, while bringing some delicious European recipes into the mainstream. Cutlet is derived from the French word cotelette, which means to chop, form and fry. The cutlets may have been brought over by the British, but in Calcutta’s cabins, they got the ultimate desi treatment. Pork was no longer a preferred choice of meat, the focus shifted to fish, prawn, chicken and mutton, the cutlets became spicier and the European condiments gave way for the zingy kasundi, a Bengali mustard pickle. Seventy-five years post the departure of the British, the cutlets continue to rule the addas in Bengal, and even beyond.  

One of the many cutlets that rose to popularity in the British Raj is the Kobiraji Cutlet. The word ‘Kobiraji’ is actually neither Bengali, nor English, it was the local, corrupted pronunciation of the word ‘coverage’. The cutlet that was primarily sold in café-style restaurants called cabins was essentially, cooked fish, mutton or chicken covered in a mesh-like, crispy and fluffy coating of egg and crumbs. The crispy coating is this cutlet’s USP, it makes for a pretty gram-worthy fare honestly, in addition to being a soul-satiating treat. 

One of the ways to prepare the Kobiraji Cutlet is simply dipping the meat in a runny egg batter and slipping it in hot oil and frying it until it is nicely brown and crisp. Another slightly more complex but beautiful way to make it is taking some of the batter in your fingers and running the loose batter in hot oil to make some crisp, thin strands. Do it until you form a crunchy bed perfect enough for the meat or fish cutlet to land, the crispy, mesh-like coating is wrapped around the fish and meat until it is fully covered. This famous style of Kobiraji Cutlet is served at places like Mitra Café, Sobhabazar and is one hot sensation.  

Craving some hot Kobiraji Cutlet now? Try making this Fish Kabiraji now and let us know how you liked it. It is ideal to serve with your evening tea, or whenever you are hosting a small, intimate party.  Do not forget to share the pictures.