Traditional steamed lemon bhetki recipe - rolled like roulade cooked as paupiette

Steamed Gandharaj Lemon Bhetki

Posted on May 22nd 2014 Barnali Dutta

One of the not-to-be missed Bengali dishes is steamed lemon bhetki fish from Kolkata and Bhetki fish especially needed to be from nearby sweet water based resources for this recipe, best to taste if it is cooked with fewer spices and do not let the spices empower the fish taste. Fish paupiette is a classic French preparation of thin fish fillets rolled around a filling and poached. In this recipe the fish cooked like a roulade, like a braised dish. The word roulade originates from the French word "rouler" meaning "to roll".

Cooking elaborate food and spreading the table to show affection or in honor of the people is the first step towards the communication of a Bengali culture and is also a tradition. Bengali culture became the representation of a small provincial culture in India so my attempt of cooking in this blog is from traditional exercising of such choices that is of national representation of regional theme and ideas that is accepted internationally though I feel a greater skill is required to bring them together in a meaningful way.

The choice of a good recipe is precisely choosing the most significant dishes must be a valid exercise which is an attempt in this blog introducing the Bengali culture. The choice of ingredients and companion of dishes are important, the wider its usage larger is the scope of sustainability of the food item in this powerful international society, to break the gap of cooking traditions in space and time.

The deliberate choice of dishes today while working on nineteenth-century Bengali classic recipes are quite consciously oriented to the expectations from present-day international cooking ideas for which people are searching. A cook like me revered in her own country foods, which is tested through cooking by the people and will be judged by an altogether different set of assumptions, "the traditional dishes of Bengal", an Indian recipe. Tradition and modernity; these are the twin ideas of these dishes which are skillfully evasive though forever impressive.

The very act of recipe translation entails the filtering of image and idea of the traditional Bengali dish raising questions how much of oneself can one allow seeping into tradition all the while modernizing regarding equipment and ingredients? A person of today working on nineteenth-century Indian classic dishes orient it to the expectations of present-day international cooking ideas like the expected consequence regarding the collection presented here.

I would like to make a few observations. It was hard to determine what constituted ‘Contemporary Indian cuisine.’ I was observing the time frame effecting the recipes and food habits of Bengal and Indian food. It obviously carries on to the present day.

I decided to include in my collection and begin my quest from early years finding huge collection of wealth both from cook books and literatures written in Bengali which is so vast and varied that selecting only some recipes and sharing them within a small interval of time is almost impossible.


  • Skinless sweet water Kolkata Bhetki fish fillet: thin slices about 3 inches 4 pieces

For marination

  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Gandharaj lemon juice : 1 tablespoon
  • Crushed Black pepper : 2 teaspoon
  • Ginger and garlic paste : 2 teaspoon

For lemon butter:

  • Peeled and pitted lemon zest green portion: 2 teaspoon
  • Freshly squeezed Lemon juice: 2 teaspoon
  • Finely chopped lemon leaf: one tablespoon
  • Amul melted butter (salted): 2 sticks 50g
  • Pepper powder: 1 teaspoon

For filling paupiette:

  • Soft kernel of green coconut : 1 tablespoon, make paste
  • Toasted peanut : 1 tablespoon, make powder.
  • Poppy seed and white mustard seeds soaked in hot water for 10 minutes: 2 teaspoon each, make a paste with 1 green chili, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoon mustard oil. Need not put water to make the paste.
  • Chopped coriander leaves and green chili : 2 teaspoon
  • Red onion : thinly diced 2 teaspoon
  • Sugar ½ teaspoon

To roll roulade:

  • 10-inch sheet of butter paper 4 pieces

Cooktime:50 minutes approx


    For lemon butter:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients mentioned above for lemon butter in a bowl, season to taste with pepper. If the butter ends up being a acidic for your taste adjust it with salt and pepper powder.
  2. For roulade:

    1. Blend all the above ingredients leaving diced onion, coriander leaves and green chili in the food processor and dash of sugar. Mix the chopped onion, coriander and green chili in the mixture. Take lemon butter half portion from the ready butter, add to the mixture. Mix well, set aside.

    2. Trim each of the bhetki fillets into a 3 x 1/2-inch rectangle.

    3. Using backside of a knife or flat board try to make the fish into very thin slices lengthwise. Brush the marination coat both sides with the fillets and leave for 15 minutes.

    4. After 15 minutes take the fish slices, wipe to dry with clean kitchen paper to remove the excess moisture.

    5. Season the marinated fish with salt and pepper again.

    6. To make paupiette, cut butter paper 4 x 6 inch long, take 4 measured butter paper arrange on a table surface, place each seasoned fish fillets seam-side down on the butter papers separately. Take the mixture with a flat spatula spread in the center the fish fillet, wrap the roll the fillet to enclose it completely into cylindrical shape with the help of butter paper to help seal the fish and tie both the ends lightly. Repeat to form the remaining paupiettes. Cover and refrigerate for up to 15 minutes.

    7. Now steam the roulade in double boiler at a simmer until the fish is opaque and firm to the touch, about 18 to 20 minutes.

    8. For serving, in a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons lemon butter over moderate heat then evenly drizzle warm butter over the cooked roulade.

    9. Garnish with the coriander leaves and Serve immediately.