Bengali style dry fish curry (machher jhal) step-by-step recipe with photos.
Fish curry served with steamed rice a.k.a. mach bhath – food that is close to every Bengali’s heart. Fish is an integral part of Bengali cuisine and is cooked and eaten almost every day in every household. There are so many varieties of fish cooked in so many different ways – machher jhol (fish cooked in a light thin gravy), sorshe mach (fish cooked with mustard), machher jhal (spicy dry fish curry), doi mach (fish cooked with yogurt) to name a few... I was amazed at the variety of fishes I used to see in the markets of Kolkata.
Bengalis are spoilt with choice when it comes to choosing fish - but they mostly eat freshwater fish (from river/lakes/pond) and not sea fish. Here in Melbourne, we don’t find the fish variety we get in Kolkata. Barramundi is the closest Bong fish, which is Bhetki. I cook this dish with barramundi normally, but this time I wanted to try something different. So I tried sand mullet - a local fish that is widely available. I am so glad I did it as it turned out exceptionally well.
I cook this dish in mustard oil, which is traditionally used in Bengali cooking - however, you may use your regular cooking oil as well. I heated the mustard oil nearly to smoking point. I then reduced the heat and lightly fried the fish pieces. It is very important to heat the pan and oil well before adding the fish - else the fish will stick to the pan. I then saute onion, ginger, tomatoes with chilli and other spices, and cooked the fish until done. A simple dish with lots of fresh flavours. This dish is traditionally cooked with a lot of chillies, but you may adjust the chilli level depending on your preference.
This simple fish curry served with steamed rice is a complete meal in itself. Try it and let me know how you like it.
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Bengali style dry fish curry (machher jhal) step-by-step recipe with photos
1. Sand mullet scaled and gutted
2. Lightly fry fish pieces in oil
3. Saute onion with spices and add tomatoes
4. Cook tomatoes until mushy
5. Add fish pieces and simmer until done
Dry fish curry