5 servings

Cooking Time

40 mins


  • 500 g Katla/Rui machh (Catla/Rohu)
  • 8g poppy seeds
  • 4g mustard seeds
  • 50 g mustard oil
  • ¼ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
  • 40 g onion (thinly sliced)
  • 3 g garlic (crushed)
  • 25 g tomato (chopped)
  • 3 pcs green chillies (slit)
  • 1 tsp total turmeric
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 13 g total salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 150 ml hot water

This simple machh’er jhaal (“jhaal” being the Bangla word for hot) sits somewhere between a jhol, which is a light thin curry, and a rosha or kaliya, which are more elaborate and heavy preparations. There are several variations of a jhaal—some use mustard, some don’t. Some use onions, some don’t. Even the tempering can vary depending on the fish. All of them are jhaal, i.e., hot—the heat coming either from mustard or chillies, or often both. This particular recipe comes from our neighbour and my mother’s good friend Aditi Bhowmik. It is easily one the top five fish curries I have tasted. This Poila Boishakh, get some fresh Rui or Katla from the market and give this recipe a try.

Recipe Notes


  1. Soak mustard and poppy seeds in water for 30 minutes. Drain and grind to a smooth paste with a green chilli.
  2. Marinate the fish with 5 g salt and ½ tsp turmeric.
  3. Cut the onion in thin slices, roughly chop tomato, crush garlic cloves, and slit green chillies.
  4. Heat a kadai thoroughly, and add mustard oil to it. Lightly fry the fish in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
  5. Temper the same oil with kaalo jeere. Add onions and fry on low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and 8 g salt, and cook until the tomatoes have melted. Add sugar.
  7. Add ½ tsp each of turmeric and red chilli powder. Braise the spices until oil separates and the raw smell has dissipated.
  8. Add the mustard-poppy-green chilli paste, and cook for no longer than a minute before adding 150 ml hot water.
  9. Once the curry comes to a boil, add slit green chillies. Lower the fish one by one, and bubble on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  10. Finish with raw mustard oil, and turn off the heat.

Serve with

No items found.


  • kadai
  • electric kettle (optional)

Transparent electric kettle

Transparent electric kettle

1.7 L


  • stove
  • grinder/sheel-nora