Grilled katla bhaaja…a low oil oven based route to the Bengali fish fry


I am quite kicked with this experiment from yesterday.

I was getting ready for lunch. There was some daal and bhindi in the fridge. I was making some rice to go with this when I remembered that there was some lovely kaatla in the fridge. I thought I will fry a couple of pieces to go with my lunch.

As I thawed a couple of pieces of the kaatla that I picked from Poonam and Sangeetha’s at Khar market an idea struck me. What if I tried to replicate a fry in the griller in the oven? Would the fish taste the same? The advantages would of course be a lot less oil used. Lot less time as well as I just had to pop the fish into the grill then.

To make it intrinsically Bengali I used a teaspoons of mustard oil. To the oil I added a bit of salt, a pinch of turmeric and cumin (jeera) powder and made a paste. Normally I would have added chilli powder to the mix but am off chilli right now. I applied the paste on to the pieces of fish.


I then heated the oven for 10 min at 200 C and put the pieces of fish on the oven rack and put it on for 12 min at 200 C and then another 5 min at 100 C.

I took out the fish then I saw that it had cooked perfectly through and had a slight crispness to the skin. I had used peti or belly pieces whose inherent flab helped the grilling too I am sure.

The result, a fairly nice kaatla ‘bhaaja’ (fry) with a tenth of the oil required.

It’s all in the molecules after all.