Food plays such a key role in defining memories and traditions. I associate food with different people, cities, moods and times in my life. Some dishes can evoke really strong emotions – especially when they are linked to home. One bite and I am transported back home, hanging out with my family and feeling immense joy and peace. This maacher jhol (fish curry) is one such dish.
This simple fish curry used to be made at my house for lunch every Sunday. Without fail. Fish Curry and rice is as typically Bengali as they come and we owned it with pride. Over the last few years , since my sister and I have moved out, this doesn’t get made as much. However, growing up it was a staple. A delicious staple.
We use rohu (kind of carp) for this at home. It is an easy fish to prep and eat (not too many bones) and tastes really good. When I made it recently, I used aar (kind of catfish).
The marinade for the fish is super simple. Keep the fish for about 30 minutes before you begin prepping the curry. Then fry the fish lightly in mustard oil to seal in the flavours. All the ingredients for this curry are likely to already be in your kitchen and this dish will make your taste buds sing!
Once the curry is ready, add the lightly fried fish and let it cook till done and all the flavours are absorbed.
No Bengali dish is complete without potatoes! Trust me on this. Potatoes make everything better. Even this light, flavourful curry gets a little texture and flavour boost with the potatoes added in.
Serve hot with rice. You will make this your new go-to fish recipe,it is that epic!
I made this recipe recently for a friend because we love fish and I was in the mood for some home style comfort. I asked our help at home the for recipe, she gave me a broad sense of how it is made and I took it from there. As I was cooking, I kept tasting to adjust the spices. It kept feeling more and more like home. Once the fish was ready and I tasted the final flavour, I swear I almost cried!
It was perfect. It was home. It was happiness.
Try it and get a peek into the happiness of my childhood’s Sundays 🙂
Home Style Maacher Jhol
500g fish (curry cut)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp mustard oil
2 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 large onion – finely chopped
2 green chillies
2 large potatoes – cut into large cubes
1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1.5 tsp red chilli powder
2 tomatoes – blitzed
2 cups water
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp lemon juice
- Wash and dry the fish. Add the turmeric and salt, mix well. Let it marinate for 30 mins – one hour.
- Once marinated, heat a pan and add 4 tbsp mustard oil. Once the oil is hot, add the fish pieces. Fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side till slightly golden and sealed. Remove from oil and transfer to a kitchen towel.
- In a grinder, blitz the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic to a paste.
- In a wok, heat 2 tbsp mustard oil. Once hot, add the cumin-ginger–garlic mix and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the finely chopped onions, mix and cook for 4-5 minutes till the onions are soft and slightly golden. Add two slit green chillies and cook for 1 min.
- Add the cubed potatoes into the wok and mix. Add turmeric, chilli powder and a pinch of salt. Let it cook for 7-8 minutes on medium heat.
- Pour in the blitzed tomatoes, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Cook for around 10 minutes till oil releases from the sides.
- Add 2 cups of water and increase to high heat. Let the mixture boil.
- Once boiling, add the fried fish and lower to medium heat. Mix and cover the wok. Let it cook for 15 minutes.
- Add garam masala and cumin powder. Adjust salt. Check the fish for done-ness (cook for another 5-7 mins) and to see if spices have flavoured the fish.
- Once ready, add coriander leaves and lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot with rice.