Beer-Battered Fish and Onion Rings

There was a rule of thumb that K and I followed on my trip to Australia earlier this year — whenever we would be near any sea/beach/water body, we would dive into Fish and Chips. Be it Bondi Beach, Great Ocean Road or even the Great Barrier Reef, we (or in some cases I) would happily sit with a plate of fish (prawns. salmon, scallops, cod) and a pile of fries which would vanish in minutes. I've never been as much of a fish n' chips fan as I became while on my brief stint there.
Once back home, like many other things that caught my fancy Down Under, I wanted to recreate the "Aussie Fish n' Chips" in my kitchen. My Jekubaba (dad's elder brother), whose enthusiasm for good food deftly parallels mine, got a bagful of fish fillets from the market one day to make life easier for me. Venturing out to the fish market in this heat is no joke, I tell you! What remained to be acquired was a bottle of beer because by now I was absolutely sure that the amazing crunch in the batter comes from nothing but a generous dose of beer in it. Now we are a non-alcohol drinking family, so any kind of alcohol that is not used in cooking primarily is generally not spotted in our pantry. Again Jekubaba was summoned and asked to do the needful. A few days later I saw a bottle of Kingfisher sitting pretty in the refrigerator. The hour had arrived. With the first rains of the season hitting the city, out came the fish and some onion rings (instead of the chips) and dunked in a batter of beer-y goodness they were crisped up to a delectable golden fabulousness and devoured with abandon. Let alone the fish, the onion rings stole my heart like very few things before.
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:

For the fish:
Bhetki fillets, thick cut: 12 (you can use any firm white fish)
Vegetable oil: For deep-frying
Salt: to taste
Black pepper powder: 1 tsp
Paprika: 1 tsp
Garlic powder: 1.5 tsp

For the onion rings:
Onions, cut into rings and separated: 3-4

For the batter:
Flour: 1.5 cup  + 1/2 cup for dredging (or more)
Salt: to taste
Black pepper powder: 1 tsp
Paprika: 1 tsp
Garlic powder: 1.5 tsp
Chilled beer: 350 ml

Method:

1. In a big bowl mix all the ingredients of the batter and set aside for at least an hour, two would be better.

2. Wipe the fish fillets dry and smear them with the dry spices as mentioned and set the aside for that same one hour.

3. When you are ready to cook, heat oil in a deep-bottomed non-stick kadhai and sprinkle half a cup of flour on a flat plate for dredging the fish pieces and onions.

4. Now take one fillet at a time, dredge it in the flour and deep fry it till crisp and golden. It took me 2-3 minutes on one side and a little less on the other. Repeat with all the fillets and the onion rings.

5. Serve hot and crunchy with lemon wedges and your favourite dip/mayo/aioli/ketchup. I served it with store-bought 3-Cheese Ranch Dipping Sauce. Oh, and the leftover beer would do fine as well!
I am sending this to Kolkata Food Bloggers' Monsoon Special event
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