Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fish Chops that were Baked

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“What is my color, Mummy”, she said, among all the prattling from the backseat.

The only things I love listening to while driving is NPR, Kishore, Rafi, Asha, Indranil and myself. But as fate has it, as soon as S is strapped into her car seat, she demands NPR to be switched off and the stereo volume cranked up blaring “Malish…tel malish…” or “baranday roddur…” at my eardrums.

On top of this she prattles, stating her opinion about life in general and throws questions at me now & then. I usually get by saying that I need to pay attention to my driving else I may bang onto someone and given my bang-bang history she leaves me alone and continues with her opinions.

This unassuming question caught me unprepared though. I was almost about to bump into the Ford Focus in front as words like racism, apartheid, mutiny, dowry deaths and what not crossed my mind. You know how I over react.

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She was not white and no it definitely didn't look brown.

Was it India, I like my Ma would have steadfastly stuck to fair while the neighbours, the milkman, the bai and everyone else insisted on medium or even dark. Now those are not colors, and I was a dumb child.

Given the L’Oreal swatches and half an hour I could maybe figure out that she might be dangling between Nude Beige and Sand Beige, but of course I couldn’t say that. Whoever says “Please my colour is Nude Beige….arrrrrgh”

And then she wanted a color that was in her Crayola box of twelve’s and not a shade in Benjamin Moore color palette. So I was at a loss and said what a clever, articulate, smart, loving, domestic diva and non-domestic smartass Mommy would do.

I said “What do you think?”

She said “Umm… orange”

Very carefully with fear in my heart I asked “And me…what is my color?”

She said “ You are orange too… baba is orange, thammi (paternal grandma) is orange”

Huh, United Colors Of Benetton, please take note while I have some nicely browned Fish Chops.

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These fish chops were baked instead of frying. Fish Chop or Macher Chop is something which every Bengali household holds a patent on. They are traditionally deep fried and also the actual macher chop has a spicy mashed potato casing stuffed with spicy fish stuffing.
I did not want to use to much potato so did not make the version with the casing this time. The fried ones taste better and if you want to you can deep fry them. I wanted to bake and not deep fry so I tried out the baked version over the weekend.


Fish Chop

Made 15 of them. sizes were on the smaller side though

What You Need

Onion Paste ~ 8 tbsp
Ginger & Garlic paste ~ 2 tbsp

Tuna ~ 2 cans of Light Tuna in Water. My Ma who does not get tuna uses fish filet , cooks them and mashes them to a kind of a paste !!!
Mashed Potato ~ 1 cup (I cooked 2 large size potatoes and mashed them up.)

Tomato Ketchup ~ 1 -2 tbsp. I used Maggi Hot & Sweet which is a spicy yet sweet tomato sauce
Red Chilli Powder ~ 1 tsp or more depending on your spice level
Bhaja Masala or Garam masala ~ 1 tsp loosely packed
Raisins ~ 1/3 cup

Green Chillies ~ 6-7 or less
Fresh Green Corriander ~ finely chopped about a handful

Sugar ~ 1/2 tsp heaped
Oil ~ 3 tbsp for making the stuffing + 1 tsp for greasing the tawa/griddle

How I Did It

Making of Mashed Potato (Yeah, as if you needed to know that)

Boil 2 Potatoes large sized. I used my Pressure Cooker. You can also microwave if you know how
Got rid of the skin
Mashed them with the back of a flat spatula till there were no more lumps and added a little salt and red chilli powder. Smooth it was. Used 1 cup of this. Leftovers if any, were had with rice with and a dash of mustard oil and green chillies


Make the Onion Paste
Make the fresh Ginger-Garlic Paste. You can always do this beforehand as I do. You can also use straight out of the jar.
Open the can of tuna and drain all the water . Best to dump it on a sieve and drain the last drop of water out.


Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan
Add the Onion Paste and about 1/2 tsp of sugar and fry till they turn pinkish brown
Add the Ginger-Garlic paste and the chopped Green Chillies and sauté till the masala looks done
Add the drained tuna and cook mixing the masala well with the tuna till fish is cooked
Add 1 tbsp of my all time favorite Magii Hot&Sweet. Go with your favorite if you have any
Add the 1 cup of mashed potato
Add Red chilli powder and salt
Fry till the masala mixes well with the whole stuff.
Sprinkle a little of the Dry Roasted Masala
Add about 1/2 cup of chopped corriander to get that fresh dhaniya smell
Add the raisins
Cool and keep aside

Make small flat round balls of this mixture. Not very flat they should have a 3rd dimension.
Dip in a batter of egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and refrigerate for half an hour or more

In a flat non-stick Tawa or griddle smear about 1 tsp of oil or grease with Pam spray.
Brown the fish balls on both sides.
Sprinkle semolina/sooji on a baking tray and arrange the browned flat balls on it. Alternately you can lightly grease the bake tray and put the balls on it.
Heat oven to 400F.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (this time may vary). They would be nicely browned by this time.
Enjoy with some home made chutney or my favorite Maggi Hot & Sweet

But seriously what do you say when your kid asks such questions, whatever part of the world you are from ? Do we just let them figure it out or do we really need to find the right color ?

Edited to Add: First of all maybe I should make it clear, S asked this question out of pure interest, more I think because she was wondering what she would paint her paper figurine ( a life size paper cut out of herself) with.
I don't think there were discussions as such in her school, those discussions will surely come later.

Trivia:Fresh tuna is an oily fish, high in fatty acids. But when it's canned, these fatty acids are reduced to levels similar to white fish. So, although canned tuna is a healthy choice for most people, it doesn't count as oily fish.



  1. So interesting that we went through something similar recently. Medha has always known she is 'different'. If anything I expected the question to arise much earlier. Her partner for one of her projects asked her: "if you don't mind me asking, are you a black?" So Medha, not knowing what to say, looked down at her hand and said: "Uh! I think I am a brown." When she came home she asked me what she should have said. And I have told her to tell anyone who asks that she is an Indian from India and that we don't pay attention to the color of the skin. It then became a science lesson, as most of these things do: skin color is because of melanin. Darker skin means more melanin, lighter skin means less.

    Orange is a great color! Looks good in photographs, too! ;-) I knew a kid who wanted to be green.

  2. I can relate to that! I ahve a three yr old who is on a question spree very sec. some embarassing and some interesting ones. I guess if its embarassing get them interested in something else...At a question like what your daugher asked you ...I haven't still faced that as yet!! (gulp)..
    Manisha had a nice answer but what about younger children..they wouldn't know what melanin is right?

  3. I love fish chops made in Bengali homes! My 2 1/2 yr old daughter's "best friend" whom she met at play school 3 months back is a Bengali, lives down the road and both of them take turns going over to each other's houses.
    She has taken to love the fish chops at her friend's house and I wolf down a couple too whenever I am there.
    The only thing which made me hesitate from making it at home was the deep frying!
    So thank you for this lovely baked recipe! looks absolutely yummy!

    And for the questions.....I guess, honest answers never fali every single time - sigh - guess we need a parents handbook for these things! :)

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  5. Sandeepa, your girl question reminds me of a fav book of mine - The Color of Water. It's about an American African family during the 50s-60s. It was a kinda strange marriage between a white woman and a black men. Her children were always anxious of their skin color. One day, the son asked the mother: "What's the color of God?" (They were devoted Christians). The mother's answer was beautiful and very intelligent - "God has the color of water".

    It was an excellent answer for me... Water has no color. But it can reflect and blends in so many colors of the world. It is pure and perfect, just as the perfect image of God - something that the child believe in totally. Isn't it a beautiful and poetic thought? I wish there were more ideas like these in the world...

  6. Questions (sigh)!...I usually don't discuss too much about it, and say that it does not really matter what colour one is, as long as they are good...Rengoni has begun to understand it as well as the fact that people from different places have different ones...but I understand your panic...the first time always is...let S grow up a little more

  7. First and foremost, dear Sandeepa, do you get the Maggi's indigenous concoction of Indian sauces in US, or you carry them from India? It was a surprise, as in Indian shops of Europe, I do not recollect seeing this one at least.

    Secondly, a big soft hug for little S. Me and my funny aggressive stance on life.... so I told my son, we are not Whites and neither are we Black, and it does not matter what we are, as we are proud to be Indians.

    In this regard I want to share a small incident. We had once visited UK and had put up with a British friend of my husband.The travel had been memorable for many unwanted reasons, which I can share later. Our friend had taken us there in the wee hours of an autumn morning. Three hours later when we opened our bedroom door, we found a 7 yr old and a 5yr old kid at our door, waiting to see how an Indian child looks. Jolted at our first encounter with skin colour, we gathered ourselves for a long day.

    While driving through one of the underpasses/ tunnels, the 5 yr old one who by then was extremely friendly, told me, " You are so dark, I can not see you". Later that night, my then, 4 yr old sonny asked, "Why are they so colourless? Don't they have blood?". By then I had collected myself and said, " We have been blessed with a good amount of skin pigment called melanin, which helps us in many ways, one being protecting us from skin cancer". Confident of the god gifted advantage, we never bothered to discuss it ever again.

    As for crayola colour crayons, Indian kids are used to a 'flesh colour' a wheatish one while for ' foreigners' a pink is used.

    But at little S's age let her have a free fancy in choosing colours. I have seen( read tolerated) my son colour a kite brown, every time without any change. After 10 yrs, my anger/ reaction on these seem so meaningless, I can't explain.

    So have fun and 'njoy watching her grow up.

  8. Sandeepa, DD asked the exact same question, I guess something said in classrooms or by other kids, she settled on brown too. We discussed it some and like everyone else we talked about melanin and the skin cancer part actually made her feel better "she hates to wear sunscreen"! It bothers me(not her yet) that skin color is such an integral part of like in the USA!!

    Coming to Fish Chops, Baked is a very good idea! Did it make little S happy?


  9. First of all maybe I should make it clear, S asked this question out of pure interest, more I think because she was wondering what she would paint her papar figurine with.
    I don't think there were discussions as such in her school

  10. Manisha
    That was a good answer. Yes, maybe there will be more such questions as S grows up. For now it was more of a painting issue I think. But I was still wondering what to say in such circumstances

    At my daughter's age they are not really bothered about skin color as per se. She or other tiny kids in her class doesn't pay attention to the different skin shades that much. But then she wanted to paint her figurine.
    I think at this age, explaining doesn't really help, because if I would have said brown, it wouldn't match the brown in her color box. If I said what Manisha said, she would still want to color, she has to paint, that was the primary concern

    Thanks :) Yes the fried ones are definitely best. This is the first time I tried baked worried about the hubby's Cholesterol level. But the baked ones atsted great too

    Indeed a very wonderful thought. Alas my daughter is small and she thinks water is "white" !!!
    But I will remmeber this and use it as she grows up

    You know how I over react :) It was a innocent question when I delved into it though. I don't really think kids in her class worry that much about color but then I don't really know everything that happens in the class

    Hyannnnnnn Maggi paoa jay. Ki Indian jinish paoa jay na tumi jiggesh koro :D Amar Ma bole, ekhane Ma joto Indian jinish pay, Kolkata te pai na, kenona ekhane shob Indian state er jinish i paoa jai.
    Bengal er jinish pai na temon, no patali or bengali bori. Bujhte pari Bangali ra business/marketing e ekhono pechiye.

    Tomar incident ta darun interesting, diff perspectives. S's caryola box doesn't have that shade. I remmeber painting all human with a camlin color shade "yellow ochre".

    Maybe I should just get S a bigger set of Crayola :-)


    As I said for S it spurred with her having to paint a life size paper cut out of herself. The kids in her class are too small and don't discuss skin color as per I know.
    I don't like the plain brown, Indian skin is not brown really, there are so many nice shades of brown and wheat we have maybe we should just have an exotically named shade.
    In India, I used to paint human figures with a camlin color shade "yellow ochre". But guess you cannot go around saying "I am yellow ochre" or maybe I can't but my daughter will eventually :D

  11. An innocent harmless question from a kid can really make our heads break right :)guess what , in the first week of my stay here in US, I went to apply for my state id, and the staff asked me the color of my complexion; as i was pondering over my options, she gave the answer herself, "black" and I was sure I do not justify that colour but they had only two options, either white or black, I dont belong to the first one either.....!!!! :)))))

    Btw, can you send me some of that , pls?? I would not mind fried ones too....I have a can of tuna , i think i will halve the measurements and try it soooon :) Will get back to you :)

    P.S Lil S hands are looking taller now :)

  12. I'd like to be orange, that sounds like a fabulous color :)

    I might just have to try this recipe! Am usually pretty dicey about what fish I eat (only been a few months since I started trying them out), but these look quite happy!

  13. Hey sandeepa!
    I know one thing i can't talk openly with noel is about this color questions. I remember once telling him that its because we come from a hot county, our skins are tanned. Its hard to make them understand that its normal when they think why they are the odd one out in the class. But sandeepa don't worry its just these first time questions phase will phase off and you tend not to react!!
    Your dish looks perfect dear and btw coming over for chirstmas for that meal??

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  15. lol.. so true @ the bai simile

  16. Fish chops are yummy!..but those cute hands pulled my attention!:)

    So long since I visited your Place, Sandeepa!..
    Went through all..

    Yes..I do cry as to release anger(when we cant show out to others at home)..mainly when I was In a joint family!..:)

    Ah yes I too enjoy lifting small toileteries(displayed in washrooms),in hotels.Now I 'almost'got rid of my habit after the serious advices of my hotelier husband :D !..

  17. Fish chops are mouth watering Sandeepa.Nice writeup and I think after 3 years ,kids start to ask questions abt colour.. My little one says that iam tan in colour and she is brownish tan..

  18. wow! Sandeepa, you have prepared me for one question I'll get in the future. :) Thanks!

    The baked fish chops look great. I'll try it soon and let you know. I love baked stuff because 1.don't like fried stuff 2. hate the actual process of frying, so I'm so glad that we can bake these stuff. :)

  19. blogspot ey maachher chop??? unbelieveable!!! about the potato casing, at my place, we usually mix the potatoes, the fish and spices, then make it into balls, coat it with besan and eggs and then fry them. is shallow frying the opposite of dep frying? because that's what we do, although the way my parents are headed it'll have to be baked in a few years. wonderful blog, do check out mine if you have the time

  20. Those are some cool Fish chops. Always for healthy fish. Enjoyed reading your post, Sandeepa.

  21. Sandeepa,
    Thought i dont eat fishes , i think the pictures looks wonderful :) .
    Little S 's discussion is making eveyone alive withtheir thoguht, adn i love readin not only post but the comments of all too :) . Sometimes little children make us think more than we ever thougt of. :). thats the difference between a mature mind and a developing one , i think :) .

  22. Little S never cease to amaze me. Its hard to keep up with her, huh?

  23. Such a heavy question, no simple answer, no right or wrong answer either. I think I'd go with Anh's response.

  24. lovely recipe and healthy tooo

  25. i looked at my skin for the first time ever since i have been here to see what color I am....I think I will go with Mustard :DDDDD

    beautiful post must be tough and yet so fulfilling to be a Mommy ...i can only imagine ;DDD

  26. fish chops......Arka (my husband) loves them.....i gotta hand over the recipe to him!!!!

  27. Hey there was no mention anywhere where I said about colour being discuused at school.

    Made the fish chops last night without the sooji. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the recipe!

  28. Shn
    Yeah she is getting taller :) And they asked your colour at the state office, are they even allowed to do that ? Color of eyes, hair ok but skin ???????? You should have given them a sound byte

    Yes orange with purple hair, thats the combo she likes. Hope no punk style preferences get ingrained in her :D

    Yeah, should get the tickets booked right :D


    You should let us on in the inside scoop about hotels :) You are so lucky to have a hotelier hubby, can go and stay at so mnay beautiful places

    At least she didn't say some weird color :)

    no one can ever prep you for the answers. But its a joy finding a answer for them, a learning process for us

    been at yoiur place loved Tibetan delight


    Are you back ? Haven't seen you for long

    Its actually fun :)

    Yes Anh did have a beautiful answer. But S insists water is white, maybe a year later.

    Thanks :)

    Mustard !!! Beautiful color, different color in different state of its being


    Oh I know:-) I was just explaining that "I think" this was not discussed at school, as she is not at that age yet.
    Great that you liked them :)

  29. I read this post y'day, but wasn't able to articulate my feelings well.....its the same still :).The inncocent question from lil' S has gotten everyone thinking. Her picture is so cute :). Baked chops is a cool ide, will try with soy chops sometime.

    Oh, i was on the East Coast before i moved here :). And who says its doesn't snow in the West Coast :-D. It doesn't snow in LA but Big Bear isn't very far ;). Oh, and then we have Tahoe :).

  30. My son is still small to ask these kind of "Q"'s maybe in couple of yrs I will be standing in ur shoes.Wonder what to say... as of now he is too busy asking questions about THOMAS, BLUES CLUES and soo on:) need to figure that first:D.

  31. sandeepa..loved the baked bit!! it obviously cannot taste as yummy as fried one..but the price to pay for deep-fried is..well ;)

    and i think you are one
    cool bong-mom..or should i be just saying mom :D

  32. Children ask the simplest questions and I think we all (moms) want to respond with our innermost heart, finding the questions profound and our responses often rife with knowledge of the big world that exists beyond the Crayola box. At least that's been my experience.

    I'm happy to say my daughter is color blind. Her circle of friends includes a darling indian gal, a sweet african-american gal with whom she was invited on vacation last year, and every other kid in the drama club at school. Of course, woe to those who are not 'drama geeks' ;)

    If some small childen ask about another's 'color' I would think, to a certain point anyway, that it's in the same way little s asked you -- pure curiosity.

    You could always get her a 96-count box of Crayolas -- wider selection of hues :)

    Sorry for long winded comment! And your fish chops sure beat MY mom's Tuna Noodle Casserole of my childhood ;)

  33. Fish chops look great! I want some please!

    Lil S and her innocent questions!! :) I love her answer :)

  34. Loved the fish chop. I'll surely make it and report back to you, especially that it is so healthy :). It is tough to answer all questions of a curious kid, isn't it ? But they say it is is really good for a kid to be asking questions.

    Thanks for your comment in the last blog and answering my question. Yes, every time I go back, I see things have changed, especially too much consumerism these days makes me feel uncomfortable. Simple days are over in India I guess.

  35. Hi Sandeepa, we are having a get together for chritstmas weekend and I wanted to make maacher chop except I also want to wriggle out ofdeep frying enough for about 25 adults! Will likely try this, jodi banayi janabo kemon holo amar :-)
    S's seems to have retained her innocenece a bit longer, Li'l A asked me a month or so back while driving home from daycare (which makes me feel some other child may have brought it up), what color she was, she didn;t wait for my answer and told me she was "owange". Janani is brown and Ben is white! Not only do her classmates (at 2.5 yrs) seem to have figured out different colors but also seem to have categorized some Indians as orange and the slightly darker ones as brown... I had no idea what to say - would be an interesting post for DMC.

  36. I love Orange... Little S picked a great color for herself and all her loved ones :)
    I have had these Bong fish chops, and they are delicious...

  37. Interesting post (and the comments). Not something I have had to deal with personally, but I can understand how much this probably affects the kids. Being 'different' is always a big deal for kids since school-friends can be quite merciless and direct, unlike our experiences with other adults who are mostly politically correct.

  38. Ahh, what a wonderful post. Deep questions were posed, adorable little hands made me smile, and those fish chops made me drool a litte.

    And my favorite thing to do as I drive is listening to NPR. :):)

  39. Musy
    Yes soy chops should be a grander idea.

    Kids do make you think though, don't they

    You are right, deep fried always tastes best :)

    That 96 box crayons is the best idea. Even I was thinking of the same.
    But you know how kids forget, she hasn't raised the topic since, happy in orange:)

    Good to see you :)

    Thik bolecho. Choto town gulo tao better. The bigger cities are crazy

    Party'r jonno bake kotota succesful hobe bolte parbo na, because anyway you have to brown them on the griddle before you bake. Try out a small batch first and see.
    Since people like deep fried chops better if you are baking, make a nice chutney to go with it.

    Yes, aren't they

    That different factor exists everywhere and its good to cope early with it

    Mine too, I love my commute to work only because of NPR :)

  40. Yeah kids do ask difficult questions.
    I love the ways u explained it to her
    I loved the pic of your daughters hands.
    Now don't forget the fish they look delicious.

  41. Where are you? Hope all's well! Happy New Year!

  42. I just came across your blog today. I have a 4 yr old and she keeps asking the same question to me too. And every time I have the same answer, that the color of the skin is not important. It is the person in you who is important. My answer was the same every single time. Maybe she got the picture or maybe she didn't but she stopped asking the color question.

    I don't know what the big deal is with color. I recently gave birth to my son, he is a lot darker then my husband, my daughter and I. One fine spring evening, I went out for a walk with my then 2 month old son, one of my Indian neighbors looked at him and asked me, "How come he is sooo dark? You guys are not that dark? I couldn't believe what she just asked... Is she expecting an explanation from me? We live in the 21st century...Come on give me a break! My answer to her was "What's the big deal? I realized how backward this lady's thoughts were, even if she is an educated professional, her education has not changed her way of thinking… What a shame!

  43. Incredible site!

    You've been tagged! Just wanted to let you know that more people are going to surf this way. As they should!

  44. Excellent presentation !!!!

  45. Orange is a lovely colour to be :-)

    I'm waiting for the RCI announcement... trust all's well with you.

  46. Thanks for the recipe. I tried it out last night and worked out really good. I have a question can we refrigerate this chops after coating them with bread crumbs. If so for how many days can we keep them in fridge.

  47. Okay now I so wish to be colored something like orange or so, other than the skin color I already am. Wonderful btw.


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