10 Authentic Fish Recipes, Everyone From Bengal Will Recommend
By: Kripa Chowdhury on Jun 23rd, 2017
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Searching the nearest Bengali restaurant to relish some good fish-based dishes is now a trend. This is because, it is a common myth that preparing fish at home is messy and hence, no one really gives it a try. Going to a normal eatery does not help as the fish dishes available are not typically Bengali. Authentic Bengali fish preparations include a special set of spices which gives it an edge over the others. In Bengali households fish continues to be a staple and is an everyday item during lunch and dinner.

Making Bengali fish preparations is not difficult at all, you just have to have the right set of ingredients.To help you, here are ten Bengali fish recipes that you can try making at home and serve them with rice. No one in the family will want to eat out after trying these.

Maach Bhaaja (Fish fry)
Image credit: Joy Acharyya

Want something simple and fast then maach bhaaja or fish fry is the one. Serve it crunchy and hot with some rice and daal.

Ingredients

6 pieces of rohu/katla fish

2 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon kalojira (black cumin)

Half a bowl mustard oil

5 red chillies

Method

For maach bhaja, try buying big river fishes like rohu or katla cut into Bengali style pieces. Get the fish home and start by cleaning it nicely with water. Marinate the fish with 2 teaspoons salt and a teaspoon of turmeric. Marinate uniformly all over the fish and keep this aside. Heat a pan, add 3 tablespoons of mustard oil. You can 2-pinch of kalojira and two-three red chillies directly to the oil. Then, place each fish piece carefully in hot oil. Lower the flame and cook the fish for the next 15-minutes to be completely cooked. Toss the fish in oil such that all sides are well cooked before you serve.

Fish Curry with Milk and Tomato
Image credit: Debjani Chatterjee Alam

This fish curry is quick to prepare and might be handy on days when you are are feeling lazy to cook.

Ingredients 

6-pieces of fish (rohu/katla)

Half a bowl mustard oil

1 tablespoon Kalojira

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

3-5 green chillies

1 small tomato chopped into medium pieces

1 cup of milk

1 cup of water

Fresh chopped coriander leaves

Method

Begin by cleaning the fish with water. Marinate the fish pieces with a teaspoon of salt and haldi respectively. In a bowl, make a mixture of one tablespoon of turmeric and water of around half a cup. Adding some red chilli powder is optional. Now, add mustard oil in a pan and heat it. Add the green chillies (depending on the spice you want) followed by two big pinches of kalojira. Please note, extra kalojira can make your curry bitter. Add the haldi paste on the oil. Let it boil for few minutes and then, add the fish pieces. Sprinkle fresh tomato on top. When the colour of your fish curry is complete golden yellow, pour milk gradually. 2 tablespoons of milk is more than enough for a 6-piece recipe. Before serving, this tomato milk based fish curry can be garnished with fresh chopped coriander leaves on top.

Maach'er Jhol (Fish Curry)
Image credit: Chandrima Sarkar

Any kind of sweet river fish can be used to prepare this curry. Tangda, padba, rohu, katla, puti and so on.

Ingredients 

6-piece (rohu) fish/your preferred fish

1 teaspoon jeera

2 teaspoon dhania powder

2 teaspoon jeera powder

2 teaspoon haldi powder

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1 small tomato (blended to puree form)

Half a bowl mustard oil

3 potatoes (cut into half-inch fat pieces)

Green Chilli (slit)

2 cup water

1.5 teaspoon salt

Coriander leaves to garnish

Method

Begin cleaning the fish with water, making it dry and marinating with salt and turmeric. On the other hand, boil the half-inch cut potatoes till they are soft. Now, take a bowl and make a thick paste of dhania powder, jeera powder, haldi powder and red chili powder with water. Place the pan on the gas stove and pour two tablespoons of mustard oil. Let the oil heat up and then fry the fish. Do not over fry them but ensure the colour of the fish changes to golden brown. After the fishes, toss the boiled potatoes in mustard oil. Once the potato and fish frying part is done change the pan to a fresh one and add two tablespoons of mustard oil. To this, put the green chillies with the jeera. Take two minutes to let this cook and then add the paste of the powders you have kept separately. Add the tomato puree here. Stir and bring the gravy to boil. Add salt a little later. When the colour of the gravy is completely brownish in colour, place carefully the fish and potatoes. Let this rest such that the juices can go inside the fish and potatoes. Before turning off the gas, do sprinkle some garam masala powder on top of the dish. While serving, top with chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve with warm plain rice. 

Topshey Fry
Image credit: Chandrima Sarkar

Referred to as mango fish in English, this is one of a kind fry that Bengalis opt for in case of special occasions and is a sumptions combination when cooked with mustard sauce, tomato sauce and a fresh salad.

Ingredients 

6-pieces topshey fish

2 teaspoon salt

8-12 cloves of garlic

4-5 green chillies

½ tablespoon ginger paste

1 medium bowl of freshly chopped coriander leaves

2cups besan

2 cups white oil

1 big cup of water

1 teaspoon kalojira

Method

Wash and clean the fish. With a knife, make some small scores on the body of the fish so that the masala gets in when you marinate it. In the grinder, make a thick paste using garlic, chopped coriander leaves and green chillies. To this freshly made paste, add the ginger paste. Once the ginger-garlic-coriander paste is made, quote it evenly on the fishes and let this rest for two hours at least. Now using water and besan you have to make a thick paste which is neither too liquidy nor very dry. Spice up the besan mix with salt and kalojira. Place the pan on the gas stove and pour white vegetable oil. Take each piece of topshey fish one at a time, dip it in the besan mix so that all sides of the fish is well quoted, dip it carefully into the oil. Cook it for 3-5 minutes. Serve the fries hot with tomato sauce and mustard sauce.

Maach’er Jhaal
Image credit: Scratching Canvas

When it comes to spicing up the fish preparation into a delicacy, then Bengalis go for Maach’er Jhaal. It is suggested to prepare this with fishes like pabda, tengda or the small ones. Yet, big fresh river fish can also be used to make maach’er jhaal. This spicy maach’er jhaal can be served with a sweet pulao.

Ingredients 

6-piece pabda fish (you can use other types)

Half a bowl mustard oil

1 tablespoon haldi powder

2 tablespoon jira powder

½ tablespoon red chilli powder

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

1 tablespoon salt

3 green chillies chopped

Half a bowl of fresh chopped coriander leaves

Method 

Start with cleaning the fish with water. Tap dry and marinate the fish with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of haldi powder. Keep this for 15-minutes and then shallow fry the fishes in hot mustard oil. Keep the fried fish pieces separately. Take a clean bowl where you add one tablespoon of each of the following – haldi powder, jeera powder and half tablespoon of red chilli powder. Add water to make it into a consistent paste. Now place a wok on the gas and heat mustard oil (2 tablespoons). When the oil is well heated, pour the paste you made. Add the green chillies now. When this comes to boil, put the fish pieces in it. Let it cook for few minutes and before turning off the gas, do sprinkle one or two teaspoons of garam masala. Please note, while making maach’er jhaal oil has to ooze out of the gravy – only then add the fish. Maach’er jhaal is spicy and is reddish brown in colour. You can garnish it with fresh chopped coriander leaves. Some Bengalis add ‘bori’ (sundried cones of lentil paste) in maach’er jhaal, though that is purely optional.

Doi Maach
Image credit: Chandrima Sarkar

When fish is prepared Bengali style in a curd based gravy, then it is called doi (curd) maach. 

Ingredients 

6-piece rohu fish (can be other big fresh river fish)

1 big bowl of fresh curd

1 tablespoon haldi powder

1 tablespoon jira powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

Half a bowl mustard oil

2 medium sized onion (paste)

4 cloves of garlic (grated)

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1/8 teaspoon garlic paste

3-5 green chilli

1-2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt

Method

Exactly like any other Bengali fish preparation, you have to start with the fish – wash, clean, dry and then marinate them with a teaspoon of salt and haldi powder respectively. Next, shallow fry the fish pieces in hot mustard oil till golden in colour and keep aside. Take half a cup curd and strain the water. Beat the curd such that its thick by the end. In a bowl, add jira, haldi and red chilli powder and mix it with water to make a paste. Place a fresh clean pan on the stove and add mustard oil. When the oil comes to a boil, add some garam masala. Let it sizzle for a while and follow this, by adding onion paste. To this, add ginger and garlic paste along with the green chillies. Cook the onion paste till soft and golden yellow. Add curd and cook. Cook for a while and if you think it's getting dry you can add a little water. When well cooked add two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of sugar (depending on taste). Right after, place the fish pieces and let it cook on low flame for five to eight minutes. When done, do not miss to sprinkle garam masala powder (1 big pinch) and serve this garnished with curd.

Maach’er Tok
Image credit: Shampa's Kitchen

By ‘tok’ Bengalis refers to sweet and sour chutney that is served at the end of the meal. This chutney is usually vegetarian but with the addition of fish, it becomes special and is found only in ceremonies.

Ingredients 

200 grams puti maach (or any river fish)

2 tablespoon mustard oil

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Half cup (small) tamarind pulp (dip tamarind in water for few minutes and strain to get the pulp)

2 teaspoon haldi powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon sugar

Method

When it comes to making this recipe it is important to cook the fish pieces very carefully as they are small in size and also, delicate. Place the fish in a bowl, wash thoroughly and clean. Sprinkle one teaspoon of salt and haldi powder on the fish and marinate well On a pan, heat two tablespoons of mustard oil and shallow fry all the fish pieces very carefully. Keep the fishes separately. On another fresh pan, add mustard oil and heat it. Sprinkle one teaspoon of whole mustard seeds and then pour tamarind pulp. Let this cook and after a while add a teaspoon of haldi powder and a teaspoon of salt. When this boils, do not forget to add sugar to about two teaspoons (depending on the extent of sweetness you want). As the sugar melts, add the fish pieces. If at any time of the preparation you feel that the tok is becoming dry, you can add little amount of water to it.

Tel Koi
Image credit: Indrajit Chatterjee

Another fish delicacy that Bengalis relish especially during winters is tel koi using koi maach. This is a little time taking fish preparation where you don’t need to fry them.

Ingredients 

Jeera paste (mix two tablespoons of jeera with one tablespoon of water)

2 red chillies

Half a bowl mustard oil

4 green chilli

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

2 teaspoon haldi powder

2 teaspoon salt

Method

Start by cleaning the koi fish pieces which is little tough considering the shape of the fish. Yet be patient and clean the fish with water and tap it dry. Now in a flat big vessel place, the fish pieces little distant from one another. Add two tablespoon of jeera paste, two red chilly (preferably blended)/half teaspoon red chilli powder), a teaspoon of haldi powder and a teaspoon of salt. Before using your hands to marinate the fish pieces, do pour in two tablespoons of mustard oil. Mix nicely and keep this aside for 40 minutes. In a pan, pour two tablespoons of mustard oil, sprinkle a big pinch of the whole jeera and then put the marinated fish along with the masala. Cover and let the fishes cook on low flame. Keep checking and tossing the koi fishes on either side. When you find the fishes are changing its colour, wash the residue masala from the marination plate and pour it on the koi fishes. Leave this to cook again for few minutes. You will understand that your tel koi is ready when the curry looks oily and brown in colour. End the process by adding few fresh chopped green chillies from the top.

Maach’er Baati Chochori
Image credit: Indrajit Chatterjee

‘Chochori’ is a Bengali food preparation that is made of many kinds of vegetables in the vegetarian version. For non-vegetarians, maach’er chochori implies the making of same dish using maach (usually the small ones).

Ingredients 

200 grams fish (puti/tengda)

2 teaspoon haldi powder

1 teaspoon salt

3-4 green chillies (chopped)

1 jar of water

1 aluminium tiffin box

2 tablespoon mustard oil

Method

Wash the fishes. Now in the aluminium bowl, grease mustard oil all over, put the fish. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt and turmeric powder respectively. On this, add the chopped green chillies. When all of the fish and spices are well mixed – you can pour an extra teaspoon of mustard oil and close the tiffin box. Now place a big pan on the stove and put the water. Place the tiffin box (closed) on the water and your maach’er bati chochori is on the way of progress. Begin in high flame and later you can reduce. In case you think the water down is getting dried you can pour more. It takes almost half-an-hour to cook the entire bati chochori. 

Shorshey Ilish
Image credit: Chandrima Sarkar

Very favourite of most Bengalis, ilish (hilsa in English) is an expensive fish that is loved by most Bengalis. Its strong aroma is worth a try, especially for fish lovers.

Recipe

2–3 tablespoon of coconut paste (can be prepared in mixer)

1 tablespoon white mustard seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Half a bowl mustard oil

2 teaspoon salt

4-5 green chillies

1 aluminium tiffin box

Method

Wash and wipe the hilsa fishes dry. Now, marinate the fish pieces very delicately so that the pieces don’t break. Put the coconut paste, mustard paste followed by two tablespoons of mustard oil, two teaspoons of salt. Mix it well on the ilish pieces using your hand and place the green chillies on top. When the fish marination is done, put the fish in the aluminium tiffin box. The fishes should fit in the box and be placed flat. Close the box. In the pressure cooker, put the closed aluminium box and pour water by the sides. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and place it onto the gas stove until the whistle goes off once. Let it rest till the steam goes away.

What do you think of these recipes? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Kripa Chowdhury
A true Bengali from heart, this Kolkata girl is presently working as an editor in Namma Bengaluru. She came here three years back for her Masters at Commits and is in love with the fast life of the IT city. Other than office, she spends most of her time in cooking and experimenting new kinds of food. Photography and Bollywood music excites this...   Read more
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