Chicken Kabiraji: Chicken Coverage Cutlet

KPC School of Nutrition’s Annual Fest Nutrifest’s theme this year is ‘The Raj Remnants: Laat Saheb er Bangali Khanshama’ – how the British rule influenced the food that we eat today. As a part of the fest, a docu-feature – ‘Cutlet, Kolkata ‘n etc’ was made and I was lucky enough to be a part of the KPC Team that did extensive research and made a beautiful movie. We interviewed owners & descendants of restaurants serving some of the long lost culinary treasures, we interviewed members of elite Pucca Clubs and the descendants of royal families of 18th-19th century Kolkata.
Walk down the lanes of Kolkata and you will see remnants of British rule in the city’s architecture and the city’s food. There are many ‘hole in the wall joints’ as well as posh ‘Pucca’ clubs which still serve food which originated during the British Colonial Era. Some dishes emulate what used to be served then while some dishes were specifically developed to entertain the British by the erstwhile nobility. The services of Mog Cooks from Chittagong were employed – a fact told to us by the Alok Krishna Deb, descendant of Raja Naba Krishna Deb. They created ‘Pantheras’ – batter-fried minced meat elongated roundel – it struck a delicate balance between Bengali and European. The Barua and Son of Shyambazar region of Kolkata are probably one of the last remaining Mog cook descendants in Kolkata. The ‘Pantheras’ that they make now are more like a ‘diamond shaped cutlet’ and those are delicious. They told the crew of ‘Cutlet, Kolkata ‘n etc’ (docu-feature) that the still follow the age-old recipe for the last 75 years or more.
The Dakbunglow cuisine – a near forgotten and hardly documented culinary treasure, originated in the colonial times. The Dakbunglows were stops where the British officials would rest. The Chowkidar (caretaker) would rustle up dinner with whatever sparse ingredients in hand, and thus emerged the Dakbunglow cuisine. Raj era cuisine still thrives in modern Bengal in the form of variety of finger food popularized in the Pucca Clubs of Kolkata. Delicacies such as Scotched Eggs, Braised Cutlets and Puff Pastries had successfully migrated from the British tables to the everyday Bengali kitchen and became their very own versions – ‘Dim er Devil’, ‘Breast Cutlet’ and Patties.
It is believed that Kabiraji Cutlet, a dish served in many old Kolkata restaurants is actually the colloquial version of ‘Coverage or CoverEgg’ Cutlet introduced by the British.
This is my humble effort to recreate one of Kolkata’s most popular dishes. Kabiraji can be made with fish, minced chicken or minced mutton. I used chicken.

Kabiraji Cutlet

  • Minced Chicken – 250gm
  • Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
  • Cilantro – 3 tbs, finely chopped
  • Green Chili – 2 or 3, finely chopped
  • Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp (made with 1 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 4 green cardamom pods)
  • Chaat Masala – 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp, freshly ground
  • Salt to taste
  • Bread Crumb – 2 tbs + enough for crumb coating 

Coverage or CoverEgg:

  • Eggs – 3
  • Cornflour – 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper – 1/4 tsp, freshly cracked.
  • Water – 2 tsp

In a bowl, mix minced chicken, chopped onions, garlic-ginger paste, green chili, cilantro, garam masala, chaat masala, 2 tbsp bread crumb, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour. After taking it out shape the cutlets (I gave mine a diamond shape) and crumb coat evenly using the breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs along with cornflour, salt, pepper and water.
Heat enough oil in a 10 inch pan for deep frying. Dunk the crumb coated in the egg batter. Fry both sides till golden brown (on medium heat). Now very carefully sprinkle the egg batter till it covers the entire surface of the oil as well as the cutlet. It will bubble a little and have a cloud-like appearance. Fold from the sides and cover the cutlet in this cloud of fried egg.
Serve immediately.

You can refer to the video here
Read more about Mog Clan here& here

10 Replies to “Chicken Kabiraji: Chicken Coverage Cutlet”

  1. Wonderful write. thank you.
    Makes me feel nostalgic. Do write something about Kolkata "Moghlai" cuisine which I suspect had very little do with the Mughals as such but more to do with the Lucknow nawabi or Awadhi cuisine (who were imprisoned in CAL after the Mutiny with their chefs and their Harems).

  2. The basic concept of dim er devil is borrowed from Scotch egg.. only difference lies that in place of red meat the devil uses potatoes.. N since the item is served at an economical cost the full portion of boiled egg becomes substituted with half or quarter boiled eggs!

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