engali fish curry

Bengali cuisine is renowned for its rich flavors, and fish curry holds a special place in the hearts of Bengalis. Known locally as “Macher Jhol,” this dish is a delightful blend of spices and fresh fish, making it a must-try for any culinary enthusiast. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of preparing an authentic Bengali fish curry, ensuring that you can bring the taste of Bengal to your kitchen.

Ingredients Required for Bengali Fish Curry

To create an authentic Bengali fish curry, gather the following ingredients:

  • Fish: 500 grams of fresh fish (Rohu or Katla are traditional choices)
  • Mustard Oil: 3 tablespoons
  • Onions: 2 large, finely sliced
  • Tomatoes: 2 medium, chopped
  • Ginger-Garlic Paste: 2 tablespoons
  • Green Chilies: 3-4, slit
  • Turmeric Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Red Chili Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Bay Leaves: 2
  • Coriander Leaves: A handful, chopped
  • Salt: To taste
  • Water: As needed

Preparation Steps for Bengali Fish Curry

1. Marinating the Fish

Begin by washing the fish pieces thoroughly. Pat them dry and place them in a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to the fish. Mix well to ensure the fish pieces are evenly coated. Allow the fish to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.

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2. Frying the Fish

Heat mustard oil in a pan until it reaches its smoking point. Reduce the heat to medium and add the marinated fish pieces. Fry the fish until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.

3. Preparing the Masala

In the same pan, add a bit more mustard oil if needed. Add cumin seeds and bay leaves, allowing them to splutter. Add finely sliced onions and sauté until they turn golden brown. This process is crucial as the onions form the base of the curry.

4. Adding Spices and Tomatoes

Once the onions are browned, add the ginger-garlic paste and green chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the raw smell disappears. Then, add the chopped tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes until they become soft and the oil starts to separate from the masala.

5. Incorporating Dry Spices

Add the remaining turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, and salt to the pan. Mix well and cook the spices on low heat for 2-3 minutes. This step ensures the spices are well-roasted, enhancing the flavor of the curry.

6. Creating the Curry Base

Add water to the pan to create the curry base. The amount of water depends on the desired consistency of the curry. For a thicker curry, add less water, and for a lighter curry, add more. Bring the mixture to a boil.

7. Cooking the Fish in the Curry

Gently add the fried fish pieces into the boiling curry. Reduce the heat to low and let the fish simmer in the curry for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the fish to absorb the flavors of the curry while remaining tender.

8. Final Touches

Sprinkle garam masala powder over the curry and mix gently. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Cover the pan and let the curry rest for a few minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions for Bengali Fish Curry

Bengali fish curry is best served hot with steamed rice. The simplicity of steamed rice complements the rich and spicy flavors of the curry perfectly. For a traditional Bengali meal experience, you can also serve the curry with a side of “Begun Bhaja” (fried eggplant) and “Aloo Posto” (potatoes cooked with poppy seeds).

Tips for the Perfect Bengali Fish Curry

  • Use Fresh Fish: Fresh fish enhances the taste of the curry. If fresh fish is not available, frozen fish can be used, but ensure it is thawed properly before cooking.
  • Mustard Oil: Mustard oil is key to authentic Bengali flavors. If mustard oil is not available, you can use a mix of regular cooking oil and a small amount of mustard oil.
  • Spice Levels: Adjust the number of green chilies and red chili powder according to your heat preference.
  • Slow Cooking: Allowing the fish to simmer in the curry on low heat ensures that the fish remains tender and absorbs the flavors well.

Health Benefits of Bengali Fish Curry

Bengali fish curry is not only delicious but also packed with health benefits. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. The spices used in the curry, such as turmeric and cumin, have anti-inflammatory properties and aid digestion. Mustard oil, when used in moderation, is known for its cardiovascular benefits.


Creating an authentic Bengali fish curry is a rewarding culinary experience. The intricate blend of spices and the freshness of the fish make this dish a standout in Bengali cuisine. Whether you are a seasoned cook or a beginner, following these steps will help you create a delicious and memorable meal. Enjoy the rich flavors of Bengal in every bite of this exquisite fish curry.

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