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Macher Tel Jhol

My favourite non-vegetarian item has always been fish. Mom tells me that the first thing I had at my “Annaprashan”, or the Hindu rite of passage, was fish even though they tried to push in rice grin. In our culture, rice should be the 1st food which an infant takes during the ceremony but I just loved the smell and taste of fish. Throughout my childhood, I loved fish so much that I used to get upset if there was no fish during lunch any day. All this changed when I went to college. Then I realized, my love was the fish prepared by my mom in traditional Bengali style. My fish drought had begun ever since I started my engineering. But thanks to my better half, our marriage re-introduced fish to my tummy. It is an essential part in our current diet as fish has one of the lowest (in fact nil in many cases) carb content.

Continuing with being fishy, this was the second dish that Sumi cooked on her “being nutty” day. This is a classic Bengali dish which I have adored all my life. Recently, ever since we started on the diet, I stopped having this. The reason being that the dish goes best with rice. For me any non-vegetarian curry without rice just doesn’t gel well, especially fish. But that day we just went crazy. We were missing fish curry and we decided to have it without rice. The result was awesome and my life had come back after the first taste.

Macher Tel Jhol - Fresh water carp gravy in oil base
Macher Tel Jhol - Fresh water carp gravy in oil base


  • Rohu Fish (Rui Maach in Bengali, Indian fresh water Carp) - 8 slices (approx 800gm)
  • Ginger paste - 1.5 tbsp
  • Garlic paste - 1 tsp
  • Cumin paste - 3 tbsp
  • Coriander paste - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1 tbsp
  • Red Chilli powder - 1 tbsp (or as per taste)
  • Onion (medium sized and chopped thin) - 1
  • Green chillies (slit length wise) - 4-5
  • Mustard Amount - Considerable amount
  • Salt - to taste
  • Parsley (chopped fresh) - 1 tsp


First marinade the fish with turmeric powder and salt. Set it aside for 15-20 min.

In a deep wok, add mustard oil, heat till oil smokes (not a good option usually, however since our main curry element is the mustard oil, we need to heat it properly else it imparts a strong smell). Now add the fish pieces, fry on each side till light brown. Set it aside.

Discard the oil. Clean the pan or take another and add fresh mustard oil again (approx 100 ml) and heat it till it smokes. Reduce flame; add chopped onion, slit green chillies, add all the paste, fry till oil separates like about 4-5 minutes. Now add 100 ml of water, a bit of salt (required for gravy) and let the water boil and then add the fish pieces back and coat properly with the gravy.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley leaves.

The oil added in the dish may seem a lot but this is the beauty of this dish. The gravy is very rich and tastes awesome with rice.

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