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Machcher Jhaal: Spicy Bengali Fish Curry

Whenever there is a discussion about Bengali fish recipes, people quote the 'machcher jhol'. It is simple and light fish curry very popular in the Bengali cuisine. And when it comes to spicier versions of fish, the mustard fish curry is quite popular. Very few people know that there is something called 'machcher jhaal'. The machcher jhaal recipe is a relatively simple dish prepared out of fish.


Machcher jhol is made with common styles of fish such as rohu, katla etc. The spicy version of Bengali fish curry recipe or machcher jhaal recipe is usually reserved for smaller fish such as telapia, pabda, tangra etc. Machcher jhaal is a spicy dish because the word 'jhaal' literally means 'spicy' in Bengali. You can try the machcher jhaal recipe for special occasions when you are expecting guests. It is also a little more oily and spicy than the famous machcher jhol.

With these steps, you should be able to prepare this Bengali fish curry without any glitches.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes


  • Fish (pabda)- 4 pieces
  • Onion- 1 (chopped)
  • Ginger Garlic paste- 1tbsp
  • Tomato- 1 (chopped)
  • Green chillies- 3 (chopped)
  • Red chilli powder- 1tsp
  • Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder- 1tsp
  • Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Kalounji- 1/2 tsp
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Coriander leaves- 2 stalks (chopped)
  • Oil- 3tbsp
  • Salt- as per taste


  1. Marinate the fish pieces with turmeric and salt and leave it aside for 10 minutes
  2. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan and shallow fry the fish until it is browned on both sides.
  3. Keep the fried fish aside.
  4. Season the leftover oil with bay leaf, kalounji and green chillies.
  5. Then, add the ginger garlic paste after 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add tomatoes.
  7. You can sprinkle salt along with the powdered spices namely red chili powder, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder now.
  8. Let the spices seep in for a minute or two.
  9. Then, add 1 cup of water and bring the curry to boil.
  10. Add the fried fish to this curry. Cover and cook the curry for 5 minutes on a low flame.

Garnish the pabda machcher jhaal with chopped coriander leaves. You can use any other fish like tangra, telapia or puti instead of pabda in this recipe.

Story first published: Monday, May 26, 2014, 18:04 [IST]