Machher jhol (Bengali fish curry) can refer to scores of different recipes. It is essentially fish cooked in some kind of a sauce. This particular variation of machh'er jhol—the jeere, ada bata, shobji diye machh'er jhol, fish curry with cumin, ginger, and veggies—is the most frequently made variant in our household. It is the default machher jhol.
This being the summer version, it has all the usual suspects—potol (pointed gourd), jhinge (ridged gourd), alu (potato)—and you can add any other summer vegetable that you like which won't turn to mush when cooked. The fish, a medium sized (~2 kg, whole) rui in our case, can be substituted with any small or large freshwater live or fresh fish—katla, mrigel, bata, and even tilapia.
It would be hard to find a more comforting, nutritious fish recipe for the hot weather. Most of you probably don't need a recipe to cook this dish, but no document on Bengali food would be complete without this recipe. So, here it is.
- 500 g rui machh (rohu fish)
- 150 g potatoes
- 150 g potol (pointed gourd)
- 100 g jhinge (ridged gourd)
- 45 g mustard oil
- 6 pcs dal'er bori (sun-dried lentil dumplings)
- ¼ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
- 16 g cumin powder
- 4 g turmeric (plus, 1 tsp extra for marinating the fish)
- 17 g total salt
- 10 g ginger paste
- 350 ml hot water
- 4 pcs green chillies (slit)
- ¼ tsp atta (flour)
- Marinate the fish pieces with 5 g salt and 1 tsp turmeric.
- Cut potatoes into wedges; peel potol in alternating strips, and divide them vertically into two halves; cut jhinge into 5-cm long pieces.
- Pour 25 g mustard oil in a well-heated kadai. Wait till it smokes and turns pale yellow.
- Add dal’er bori and fry until golden. Once done, set aside.
- Now, fry the fish pieces in batches for 2 minutes on each side. Once they are light golden in colour, set aside.
- Add potol and fry on medium heat for 4 minutes with 2 g salt. Once done, set aside.
- Add 20 g more mustard oil to the kadai. Temper with kaalo jeere and two slit green chillies.
- Add potatoes and fry them on medium heat for 4 minutes.
- When potatoes are half-cooked, add jhinge. Fry on medium heat for another 4 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.
- In a small bowl, make a paste of cumin powder, turmeric, and the remaining 10 g salt mixed with warm water.
- Add the paste to the vegetables. Sauté the spices on medium heat for 4 minutes.
- Add ginger paste, and sauté another 2 minutes before adding 350 ml hot water.
- Once it comes to a boil, add the fried potol, fish, and dal’er bori to the curry. Add two more slit green chillies.
- Let everything bubble on medium heat for 6 minutes.
- Sprinkle atta and mix it in well. This will thicken the curry slightly. Turn off the heat and serve hot.