Shorshe Bata Diye Maach er Jhol (Fish Cooked in Mustard Sauce)

This is a staple fish dish, served for lunch, in Bengali homes. Every Bengali home has its own special recipe for this dish, but more or less the same principals apply. This is how my husband makes it.

This recipe is ideally for Rohu fish, but any fish can be used. In India you can get fresh Rohu fish, outside India you can get frozen ones from Bangladeshi grocery stores. We usually make this recipe with fresh fish like salmon or white flesh fishes like cod, haddock, surmai.
This recipe takes about 20 mins or so to cook.

800 gm of fish, ideally Rohu, cut into medium pieces (this quantity should yield about 8 to 10 medium pieces)
2 table spoons of poppy seeds
3 table spoon of mustard seeds
2/3 green chillies
2 table spoon of haldi/turmeric
Salt to taste
Oil to fry the fishes plus 2 table spoons for making the gravy (for a really authentic taste you can use mustard oil, vegetable or sunflower oil is fine too, what my mother does is, she cooks in a healthier oil and then pours a table spoon of mustard oil over the finished gravy, mustard oil is a tad too strong and is an acquired taste, so you can totally skip this part)
2 to 3 cups of water

Fish Preparation:
Ask you fishmonger to size the fishes any way you want. If the fish pieces are too big they will break while frying or cooking, so please make sure the pieces are not too big.
Also make sure the fish scales are trimmed. In India the fishmongers usually trim the scales and leave the skin on the fish. Here in the UK the fish mongers leave the scales on fresh fish. So while buying the fish, we ask the fishmonger to take off the skin and the scales automatically go. I know lovely fish skin is sacrificed, but it is a necessary sacrifice to get rid of the yucky scales.

In a mixer grinder take the poppy seeds, mustard seeds, one green chilly, one generous pinch of salt and about 3 table spoons of water and grind it to a smooth paste. Keep the paste aside for future use.

The masalas before and after grinding
After washing the fishes and getting rid of any lingering fish scale, pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Sprinkle about a table spoon of haldi/tumeric and equal amount of salt and coat each fish piece.
Fish pieces coated with haldi/turmeric and salt and ready to be fried
In a pan heat some oil and once the oil is smoking hot, sprinkle a pinch of salt, this will help the oil remain calm when the fish pieces are added. Fry the fishes till light brown and remove them.
Fried pieces of salmon, ready to go into the gravy. You can have this on its own, it is actually yummy, but for that you need to fry the fish indicator is that the fish will turn deep brown over the edges...
Drain away the extra oil, leaving about two tablespoons in the pan, add back the fish pieces, add 3 to 4 cups of water, completely submerging the fish pieces. Cover the pan and let it come to a boil. Snap a couple of green chillies from the middle and add them to the pan according to your taste/heat tolerance. Once the water starts to boil, add the masala paste and let the fish cook for about 10 mins. Keep checking in between to make sure that the water has not dried. If the water dries add some more. This was you can control the amount of gravy you want.
The gravy bubbling away...
Once the excess water has evaporated you will be left with a rich thick gravy with well cooked fish pieces. Bengalis usually have this with rice, this is the second course of a Bengali lunch, the first being dal/lentils and vegetables.
Ready to be eaten!

Enjoy your maach er jhol with bhaat (fish curry with rice)!


  1. Bengali cuisine is very close to my heart since my Dad's entire family has been settled in Kolkata for past 30 years and when one thinks of bengali cuisine fish comes on top. Thanks for visiting my space and helping me discover yours. Glad to follow you.

  2. Another one to try...but not able to guess the taste of ground mustard and poppy as gravy ...very curious now...:) Aruna.

  3. The two flavours taste great together....try it once, or better still come over, will cook it for you all :-)

  4. well suchi in UK..the rohu fish we get is from the asian shops,they dont take of the skin,they just cut it...if u r specifically talking abt rohu,cause the british fish mongers will not sell these fish rite,it will be cod,hadock,salmon,tuna etc.i m not sure of the practise in London,i was in north england,there i used to get the bengali river water fish from bangladesi or pakistani shops who sold fish..emnite ei preparation ta amioo kori...but well thanks for the recipie though...i was looking for something new for rohu n chanced to land up in your blog.....

  5. Have linked back to this post Suchi ..hope it's ok with you ..hugs

  6. Hi, tried this with Rui n it came out well... Thank u


Thanks for visiting my space and spending some time here. Hope you enjoyed your stay. I will be very happy if you choose to leave a comment.
Au revoir friend!

Thank you for visiting!