Macher jhol – Bengali fish curry

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In Bengal, you would use a local carp called rohu in this macher jhol recipe, but using a filleted meaty white fish in its place such as cod or halibut works just as well. A superb fish curry fit for a feast.

First published in 2019




Macher jhol


Cut the fish into 12 equal portions. Mix 1 tsp of the salt and 1 tsp of the ground turmeric, rub on all sides of the fish and set aside for 30 minutes
In a shallow saucepan, heat 5 tbsp of the oil over a medium-high heat. If you are using mustard oil, heat until it is smoking hot – this removes the bitter pungency of the oil – then bring it down to a medium-high heat. 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
  • 6 tbsp of vegetable oil, or mustard oil
Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes over a medium-high heat. If the paste is burning or sticking to the base of the pan, add a splash of water. Add the remaining salt and ground turmeric, followed by the ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder, tomato purée and diced tomatoes. Pour in 600ml warm water and cook for 5 minutes. Keeping the pan on a 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 with the sauce, ensuring all sides of each fillet are cooking evenly. If possible, cook the fish fillets in a single layer in the pan as this will prevent them from breaking up into flakes. Lower the heat, add the sugar and cook, covered, until the fillets are cooked through – this should take no longer than 5 minutes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
To serve, garnish the fish with whole green chillies and sprigs of fresh coriander leaves

Owner of Indian restaurant Darjeeling Express and star of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Asma Khan is one of the UK's most prominent female chefs and an unstoppable force for social change in the food industry.

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