Preparing Macher Jhol/Bengali Fish Curry

As with many of my recipes, inspiration comes from far and wide and this delicious and simple macher jhol fish stew come curry recipe is no different.

The name itself translates as “fish gravy” or “fish soup”. In Bengali it is written like this মাছের ঝোল, and it speaks to a whole spectrum of dishes.


  • 300g (10oz) skinless cod, pollock or hake loin
  • ½ Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 150g (1 medium large) onion
  • Thumb sized piece of  ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 Tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 red chillies
  • 12 curry leaves
  • ½ Tsp ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ Tsp sugar


  1. Cut the cod loin into two steaks.
  2. Mash the garlic cloves.
  3. Grate the ginger.
  4. Cut the chilli peppers in half lengthways.
  5. Heat a medium (24cm) non stick frying pan over a high heat.
  6. Grate the onion on the fine side of a grater
  7. Add the oil when it is hot sear the cod loin pieces for a minute on each side.
  8. When seared remove and set aside.
  9. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and slit red chilli peppers.
  10. When the seeds begin to crackle add the curry leaves, garlic, and ginger and cook for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the grated onion and cook for 7-10 minutes stirring regularly until the onions go a fairly deep golden brown.
  12. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine.
  13. Sprinkle over the sugar, ground coriander, ground turmeric and salt and stir.
  14. Return the fish to the pan and coat well in the sauce.
    Add a lid and cook for 7-10 minutes
  15. Serve with a garnish of coriander leaves or parsley
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