Macher Jhol

  • Time
    30 mins
  • Servings
  • Nutrition
    300 Per Serving

This light fish curry is a staple in the eastern states of Bengal and Orissa. Flaky white fish fillets are cooked in aromatic mustard oil before they are simmered in a panch phoran-spiked tomato broth.


Panch phoran means 5 spices, and is a blend that is essential to Bengali cooking. The spices typically included are cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek, and nigella seeds. Each seeds adds a different flavor profile, from smoky to bitter to sweet, and results in a complex yet balanced taste. This recipe is quick and comforting, especially when served with hot Basmati rice.

Kitchen Tools

  • Medium Pot
  • Large Pot
  • Small Bowl
  • Salt



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Cut the fish into large pieces and mix half of the mustard oil, all of the turmeric, and 1 teaspoon of salt together and apply paste all over the fish fillets. Marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make rice according to instructions.

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In a large non stick pot over medium high heat, brown the fish for 1-2 minutes on each side. Once fish pieces are golden brown, remove from pot and set aside.

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In the same pot add the remaining mustard oil and the panch phoran spices. Toast for one minute.

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Stir in the garlic-ginger paste and the tomato paste. Add chili powder to spice preferenc and 1.5 cups of water. Stir well to incorporate and bring spice broth to a simmer.

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Add the fish back in and simmer for 8-10 minutes until curry thickens slightly and fish flakes with a fork. Add more salt to curry if needed. Meanwhile, dice the shallot and cucumber and wash and chop the cilantro. Toss the shallots and cucumber with half the cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and set aside.

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Remove macher jhol from heat and garnish with the rest of the chopped cilantro. Serve with hot rice and cucumber relish.

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