Macher Jhol Recipe | Bengali Fish Curry

Macher Jhol Recipe by Chef Ankit

Traditionally and culturally fish is an important part of the diet in West Bengal. 

Macher jhol or machha jhola is a traditional spicy fish curry in Bengali cuisine in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is in the form of a very spicy curry that is served with rice or roti. In some variations, potatoes and other vegetables are also added to enhance the flavor.

I have spent 3 years in Durgapur – the steel city of India, where I have pursued my hotel management. I can say these three years were my golden days. I have enjoyed a lot and their food culture inherited in my blood. Still, I can feel the freshness of food and especially the preparation of freshwater fish.

The kinds of fish that are typically used in Bengali and Odia households are hilsa /ilisha, rohu /rohu, and catla /bhakura. Apart from these, there are also some famous small-sized fish that are normally used to prepare the dish.

FishPanch Phoron means five spices. It is a combination of five seeds- cumin seed, mustard seeds, fenugreek seed, nigella seed, and fennel seed. Unlike many other spice blends, panch phoran is always used whole and never ground. It is used in most of the bangali home cooking. These seeds are combined and used for tempering the food.

Panch PhoronI am writing the same recipes as I usually had in my college canteen or dhaba near to my residents. I miss the taste of that food!!!!

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins

Level: easy

Serving: 4



  1. Katla / Rohu fish (cut into pieces with bone) – 1 whole fish (Medium size )
  2. Mustard oil – 4 tablespoon

Fish Marination

  1. Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  2. Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tablespoon
  3. Red chilly powder – 1 teaspoon
  4. Salt – to taste

For Curry

  1. Panch phoran – 1 teaspoon
  2. Onion (sliced) – 1/2 cup
  3. Tomato (chopped) – 1 cup
  4. Salt – to taste
  5. Kashmiri chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  6. Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  7. Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
  8. Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  9. Ginger- garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
  10. Yellow mustard seeds – 2 teaspoon


  1. Wash and pat dry the fish. 
  2. Prepare the marination of turmeric powder, red chilly powder and ginger garlic paste, and salt. Marinate fish and keep in a refrigerator.
  3. Heat oil in a kadhai and fry the fish till crispy. Keep separate.
  4. Grind the yellow mustard seeds and green chilly in the food processor and prepare a smooth mixture.
  5. Heat a pan, add oil and add panch phoran. Let it crackle.
  6. Add onion and cook till brown. 
  7. Add mustard seeds paste and ginger garlic paste. Saute. 
  8. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, and turmeric powder. Bhuno. 
  9. Add salt. Add a dash of water to prevent burning the masala.
  10. Bhuno, till the masala starts leaving from the edges of the pan. 
  11. Add chopped tomato and bhuno till it cooks completely.
  12. Add 2 cup water and let it boil. 
  13. Add fried fish 
  14. Allow it to cook for the next 5 mins. Adjust seasoning.
  15. Transfer the fish in a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  16. Serve hot with steamed rice or Roti.

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