Vegetable Chop or Cutlet
Bengali-style vegetable chops—a popular winter snack—are breaded, deep-fried croquettes made of seasonal beetroot and carrots.
[In this series, we tip our hats to some of our favourite dishes available in the restaurants, cafés, and cabins of Calcutta. Our purpose in doing so is to document their existence, and give people a way to recreate them if they happen to live away from the city. Make these at home, or hunt them down from the source—irrespective of how you get your hands on these items, we hope you enjoy them.]
Bengalis look forward to nothing more on winter evenings than a batch of hot-off-the-oil fried snack and a cup of sweet, milky tea. Once such snack is the delicious (may we even say nutritious?) Kolkata-style vegetable chop, also known as ‘beet chop’ or ‘veg cutlet’. Best championed by patrons of roadside shacks, ‘telebhaja dokan’, and cabins, this popular and easy-to-make Bengali vegetarian snack is enjoyed with a simple salad of onions and cucumbers, and a dollop of kasundi. Full of the goodness of the seasonal beetroots and carrots, both of which are winter vegetables in Bengal, the vegetable chop (or veg cutlet) is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and rather sweet to taste. It is a landmine of flavour and texture, which come from the veggies, spices, and nuts used.
In this Bengali vegetable chop recipe, we recreate a Kolkata street food, which is also one of the most beloved Bengali snacks of all time. The main ingredient of this easy Bengali veg recipe is beetroot, which lends the chop its characteristic vibrant maroon colour. Besides that, this recipe also uses a unique blend of spices. Follow this video to learn how to make a Kolkata-style vegetable chop of the perfect texture and flavour.
COOKING TIME 90 minutes
YIELDS 16 chops
CALORIES 141 kcal per chop
|2 g||Cumin seeds|
|5 g||Fennel seeds|
|4 pcs||Bay leaves|
|4 pcs||Dried red chillies|
|4 g||Amchur (dry mango powder)|
|20 g||Coconut (sliced)|
|30 g||Peanuts (halved)|
|½ tsp||Panch phoron|
|30 g||Ginger paste|
|6 g||Green chillies (finely chopped)|
|8 g||Coriander leaves (finely chopped)|
|FOR BREADING CHOPS|
|~300 g||Vegetable oil (for deep frying)|
- Boiling pot | steamer
- Kadai | frying pan
- Khunti | long spatula
- Jhhanjhhri | perforated frying spoon
STEP I—MAKE THE FILLING
- Halve or quarter the potatoes and steam them until they are tender. Peel the skins and mash thoroughly. Steaming keeps the potatoes dry and fluffy.
- Chop beetroot and carrots into 3-cm matchsticks. Finely chop the green chillies and coriander. Divide the coconut into 5 mm chunks.
- Grind together cumin, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, bay leaves, dried red chillies, and amchur.
- In a pan, heat 30 g vegetable oil. Add the coconut slices and fry them until they are golden. This should take about 30 seconds. Remove them from the oil and set aside. Next, add the peanuts and fry them too until they are golden (about 75 seconds). Drain and set aside.
- Temper the same oil with panch phoron. Wait for it to crackle. Add the chopped green chillies and ginger paste, and fry for about 2 minutes.
- Follow these with the chopped beetroot, along with a large pinch or two of salt (to help soften the beet). Cook until the beet turns slightly limp, about 3 minutes, after which add the chopped carrots. Add the remaining salt and cook the veggies on medium heat until they are soft. However, don’t let them turn mushy or disintegrate, or we’ll lose texture.
- Once the vegetables are well done, add the ground spices, cover the pan, and allow everything to cook for about 2 minutes. After that, add the sugar followed by mashed potatoes. Mix everything gently until uniform so that the strands of carrots and beet do not break.
- Turn off the heat and add ghee, fried coconut and peanuts, and chopped coriander. Mix well. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
STEP II—BREADING AND FRYING
- Divide into 50 g portions and form cylindrical croquettes about 7 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. Once all the chops are formed, it’s time to bread them.
- Dredge the chops lightly in flour and dip them in the eggwash. Transfer them on to a dish of breadcrumbs and cover them entirely, pressing them so that they stick. Repeat this eggwash-and-breadcrumb routine one more time to form a second layer of the coating. This will give extra crispy chops. You may prepare the chops up to this stage and freeze them in airtight containers for up to a month. Fry them as you need them—there’s no need to defrost.
- Fry the chops in hot oil (180°C) on medium heat until they are golden brown. Drain and serve hot.
- Doodh Cha (masala tea)
- Cabin-style salad