Kajli Machh'er Jhol

A hearty flavourful curry of Kajli machh, made with very minimal ingredients like brinjal, turmeric, salt, and mustard oil.

  • Cooking time
    45 minutes
  • Calories
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Kajoli Machh, also called Kajli, Kajuli or Kajali is a fresh water cat fish that is very delicate and tastes divine. It has to be cooked with care since a soft fish like Kajli breaks very easily. When we have fresh flavourful fish at hand, this light yet pungent curry with mustard oil (tel jhol) is our favourite, because it takes a step back and lets the fish shine. The coriander leaf garnish adds a nice freshness specially when coriander is in season (winter). Serve this with plain white rice and you will be amazed by the taste of this deceptively simple Bengali fish curry.

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5 servings
  • 450 g Kajli machh
  • ¼ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
  • 6 pcs green chillies
  • 12 g salt
  • 4 g turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp atta (whole-wheat flour, for rubbing on the fish)
  • 40 g mustard oil
  • 6 g coriander leaves
  • 100 g brinjal
  • ½ tsp salt (for coating fish)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder (for coating fish)
  • 300 g hot water
  • ¼ tsp atta (whole-wheat flour, for thickening the gravy)
  • 1 tsp mustard oil


  1. Cut brinjal in 5-cm long chunks. Slit green chillies. Chop coriander leaves.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, make a solution of salt, turmeric powder, and water.
  3. Rub kajli machh with atta to clean it thoroughly and rid it of its sliminess. Rinse well.
  4. Coat fish with salt and turmeric powder.
  5. In a kadai, heat mustard oil until it smokes gently and changes colour to pale yellow.
  6. Add brinjal and fry on medium heat until golden (5 minutes). Set aside.
  7. Gently lower kajli machh into oil. Fry each side for 40 seconds and in batches. Since it is very delicate, turn gently. Set aside.
  8. Fry the remaining batches in the same manner.
  9. If the oil is not too burnt, use it for making the curry as it has the flavour of the fish. If not, add more oil to the kadai.
  10. Temper oil with kaalo jeere and 3 green chillies.
  11. Now, add the salt and turmeric mixture that you have prepared before. Mix well and continue frying on medium heat until oil floats to the top. This would take roughly 3 minutes.
  12. Once oil starts to separate and the raw smell of the spices are gone, add water. The curry may appear reddish at this point, but it will turn lighter as it cooks.
  13. Add fried brinjal and the rest of the green chillies. Now, gently lower the fried fish into the curry. Don't forget to add the oil drippings of the fish to the curry.
  14. Bubble everything on low heat for 3 minutes. In a small bowl, take a few spoonfuls of gravy and 2 softened chillies from the gravy. Add atta to this bowl and mix well. Squish the chillies to release heat and flavour. Pour it back to the gravy.
  15. Drizzle some raw mustard oil on top. Sprinkle finely chopped coriander leaves. Don't move the fish around too much, else it may break.
  16. Finally, serve hot with rice.

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