One chef, one recipe: Machher Jhol by Chef Kush Koli

The Head Chef of SAGA, Gurgaon shares his recipe for one of Bengali cuisine’s most popular comfort foods aka machher jhol.
Maccher jhol is a comfort bengali food made using fish and mild spices.
Maccher jhol is a comfort Bengali food made using fish and mild spices.

Every regional cuisine in India comes with its own staple comfort foods. And for Bengali cuisine, machher jhol or Bengali fish curry is easily one of them.

The name machher jhol can ideally be used to refer to scores of different recipes that hero fish as the main protein in some kind of light sauce. An important recipe in Bengali cuisine, it’s a must-try for any enthusiast. 

Prepared using minimal spices, fish, and vegetables like potato and eggplant, machher jhol is essentially a spicy fish stew that is enjoyed best with hot steaming rice. While the dish traditionally calls for the use of rohu, people often substitute it with catla, kali baush, mrigal or tilapia according to their preference. 

Head chef kush koli of saga, gurgaon shares his recipe for machher jhol.
Head Chef Kush Koli of SAGA, Gurgaon shares his recipe for machher jhol.

Given that machher jhol uses potato and eggplant as well, the dish is not only comforting and delicious but also provides a host of health benefits. The dish is rich in protein, omega 3, vitamins, fibres and minerals which help prevent the risk of cancer, and anaemia as well improving cholesterol levels and heart health. 

This is one of those dishes that works well for a cosy meal at home with the family, a potluck with friends, or even during festivals for the allure of something simple yet immediately delicious. Using this machher jhol recipe by Chef Kush Koli, impress your loved ones and watch them become your fans forever! 

Always serve machher jhol with steaming hot rice for the most wholesome meal.
Always serve machher jhol with steaming hot rice for the most wholesome meal.

Ingredients

  • 500 gm Kolkata bhetki
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 110 gm onion
  • 3 gm cloves
  • 7 gm ginger
  • ½ tsp mustard seed
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp degi mirch powder
  • 45 gm tomato puree
  • 200 gm tomatoes
  • 600 ml warm water
  • 120 gm potato
  • 75 gm cauliflower
  • 65 gm aubergine
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

Method

  • Cut the fish into equal sizes. Mix in the ginger-garlic paste, salt and ¼ tsp ground turmeric. Rub it in on all sides of the fish and set it aside for 30 minutes.
  • In a shallow saucepan, heat mustard oil over a medium-high until it is smoking hot – this removes the bitter pungency of the oil. Add the fish to the pan and fry to seal each piece, but do not let the fillets cook through. Remove from the pan to a plate and set aside.
  • Add all the whole spices & let them crackle.
  • Add onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for 2 minutes over medium-high heat. If the paste is burning or sticking, add a splash of water. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook well.
  • Then add in the remaining turmeric, followed by the ground coriander, ground cumin, degi mirch powder, tomato purée and diced tomatoes. Pour in 600 ml warm water and cook for 5 minutes. Keeping the pan on medium-high heat, let the liquid reduce for 15 minutes or until the oil comes to the surface and seeps to the sides of the pan
  • Gently return the fish fillets to the pan and cover them with the sauce. If possible, cook the fish fillets in a single layer in the pan, preventing them from breaking up into flakes. Lower the heat until the fillets are cooked through.
  • Garnish with chop coriander & serve hot.

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