Tucked away at a neighbourhood at 50 B Sadananda Rd at South Kolkata is this tiny eatery called Apanjan which easily earns the distinction as one of city's A-list places for fish fry, a dish which is embedded in the city's food culture. Apanjan means 'One's own people', and it really lives up to the name for its huge number of loyalists, some for decades.
I came to know about Apanjan in Orkut's one of the most active communities and the right online place to belong to for any Kolkata foodie- Kolkata Food Guide. It was strongly recommended and vetted by a few members. And then Riju, the food journalist of Anandabazar Patrika's Saturday city zonal supplement (Uttar Kolkata/ Dakkhin Kolkata/ Purba Kolkata) wrote about the place in his intimate style in my favourite food column Hanrir Khobor. It served as the catalyst for me to go and try the place.
I tried the fish fry, which comes at a premium compared to current market prices, at Rs 25 and Rs 35 for its two sizes. The taste is difficult to describe as I've never had such a preparation made with utmost honesty and the right ingridients in an eatery. A classic fish fry can't be made without beckti, the fish. And the first bite of Calcutta Beckti in the fish fry at Apanjan spoke for itself.
Started on 15 August, 1982, by the Mukhopadhyays in an abandoned godown at their house on Sadananda Rd has a rich history thanks to its celebrity clients and prominent citizens. Rabi Ghosh and Tarun Kumar used to rush for its fish fry and polished it off standing on the sidewalk like other customers (Since it can't offer seating) post their shows at Tapan Theatre , which stands at a stone's throwaway distance at the other side of the road. Bijoya Ray, wife of late Satyajit Ray and a prominent member of his production team, once came calling to crack the recipe of its fish fry.
Prabhas Ghosh, the current manager, firmly believes in the honesty in cooking so that customers can be provided with the best- a stark contrast with today's eateries who cut corners to the point of grossly compromising on health and hygiene, let alone taste. Mr Ghosh wakes up early to shop for fish and meat everyday from trusted vendors for years and makes the stuff (Ready for frying) himself. The cooking medium is fresh refined white oil. No wonder he can afford to claim that Apanjan's kabiraji (Fried) can be had after keeping refrigerated for 4-5 days. One doesn't feel uneasy after having any of its praparations. Apart from fish fry Apanjan serves regular Bengali fries like fish orly, fish finger, hanser dimer davil (A fry with goose egg), chicken/mutton kabiraji, pakora, mangsher singara (Mutton samosa) et al, and its innovation- fish chips.
If you've already made up your mind to visit the place, make sure to turn up by 7.30 pm, as the preparations fly off the showcase in lightning fast speed.