Machhere jhol (Bengali fish curry)

    30 min

    A delicate curry from the Bengali region of eastern India, this white fish fillet curry can be made with any flaky, white fish: Haddock, cod, tilapia, sea bass - choose your favourite, its flavour will be spiced and enhanced in a gorgeous way in this dish.

    9 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 480ml water
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 900g thick white fish fillets, cut into large chunks
    • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (black cumin)
    • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
    • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

    Prep:10min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:30min 

    1. Bring the tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, salt and water to the boil in a 4 litre saucepan; reduce heat to medium and maintain a simmer.
    2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat; cook the fish in the oiled frying pan until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to the saucepan.
    3. Heat a separate frying pan over medium heat, and toast the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds until fragrant (just a few seconds). Stir the spices into the saucepan and simmer until the flavours integrate, about 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

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    Reviews in English (3)


    Could not find black cumin seeds anywhere. I live next to one of the largest Indian merchant areas in New Jersey. No black cumin seeds to be found so I doubled up on the regular cumin seeds. Found the recipe to be a little bland so I added 1/2tsp of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of curry powder. I used fresh thick cod filets and found them too delicate for the recipe. Next time I will use stripe bass or blackfish, All in all a pleasant flavor.  -  15 Dec 2009  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    Also made this minus the black cumin. Came out wonderful.Flavorful without being 'hot'. If most Indian food is too spicy for you then this would be a good addition to your recipe box.Think I'll try it with salmon next time.  -  18 May 2013  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    For those who could not find "black cumin" - it's not cumin and is a literal translation of the Bengali or Hindi name. It's sold under the name "kalonji" or "onion seeds" - any Indian grocery store will carry it. Also it's not accurate to say that only the leftover pieces are used for curry. As a die-hard Bengali with roots in both Bengals, I remember the best curry made out of fresh Katla (Buffalo)/ Rui (Rehu or Carp) and Bhetki. Every slice was used.  -  14 Feb 2018  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)

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