Authentic Bengali fish recipes

5 Mouth-Watering & Authentic Bengali Fish Recipes You Must Try Now

Reading Time: 9 minutes

When we think about Bengalis the first thing that comes to our mind is their selfless love for fish. Bengalis, across the world, won’t miss any opportunity to sit with the family in the afternoon with a plate of white rice and a modest and humble fish curry. Fish is an emotion for the people of Bengal.

In Kolkata, many small street-side restaurants get super busy right when the clock strikes 2 PM. And the most common lunch order will be Maach-Bhaat or fish and rice. During Durga puja, no pandal-hopping is complete without relishing Bhetki fish fry. From weddings to Sunday lazy lunches, a fish item makes the Bengali meal complete. 

In Bengal, there is an eternal culinary rivalry between Bangal and Ghotis going on proving which one is best, Ilish (Hilsa) or Chingri (Prawns). Well, to be honest, we love both! So, here are some authentic Bengali fish recipes you can try out and maybe pick your own personal favourite from the list!

Chingri Malai Curry

Chingri Malai curry is an instant fav
Image Source: Wikimedia commons

Prawns cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with exotic spices, Chingri Malai curry is one Bengal’s favourite pescatarian dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 10 tiger prawns or galda chingri
  • 1 large onion grated
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ½  tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes 
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp of ghee or mustard oil

Garam masala:

  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 small cardamom
  • 3 (1 inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bay leaf

Recipe :

Step 1- Marinate the prawns with turmeric and salt. Keep it to rest.

Step 2- Fry the prawns in mustard oil until golden brown and keep it aside.

Step 3 – Take the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamoms, and a bay leaf and lightly roast the garam masala and grind it in a mixer. Make a fine powder and keep the masala aside.

Step 4– Heat the oil over medium heat. Then add the whole cloves, cardamom pods, and sticks of cinnamon and fry for a few seconds till a nice smell comes out. Add grated onion to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onion until the liquid dries out and there is no raw smell. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes.

Step 5- Add the chopped tomatoes and add turmeric, red chilli powder. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and oil comes to the surface.

Step 6- Pour the coconut milk into the masala and stir well. When the mixture is about to boil add the prawns. Sprinkle 2/3rd of the garam masala and save the rest of the garam masala for garnishing. Cover the pan and let it cook.

Step 7- As the prawns turn pink, cook for 4 to 5 minutes and add ghee. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle garam masala and serve hot with plain white rice.

Bhetki Macher Paturi

Steam cooked boneless Bhetki fillet
Flickr Wikimedia commons

The beauty of the dish is that it is steam-cooked Bhetki fish wrapped in a banana leaf with mustard. It is a boneless fish dish that is an instant hit on Bengali weddings and special occasions.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Bhetki fish fillets
  • 2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh grated coconut 
  • 8 slit green chillies 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 banana leaf cut into 5 rectangles 
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Recipe:

Step 1- Wash the fish and mix the fish pieces with turmeric and salt in a bowl.

Step 2- Soak the mustard seeds for 2 hours. Then make a paste of poppy seeds, mustard seeds, green chillies, and a little salt.

Step 3- Mix the mustard seed paste with grated coconut and add the remaining turmeric powder. With this masala marinade the fish.

Step 4- Cover the fish and keep it in a fridge for an hour. Add a tsp of mustard oil over the fish.

Step 5- Warm the banana leaf on an open flame and make sure it doesn’t burn. Put the glossy side of the banana leaf facing up and rub mustard oil on it. Spread the marinated paste on the leaf and place the fish in the centre of the leaf. Add a little marinade over the fish and place a green chilli on top of it. 

Step 6- In a non-stick pan heat some oil and add the wrapped fish. Place the fish, cover the pan with a heavy lid and cook for 8 -10 minutes on medium-low heat on each side.

Step 7- Repeat the process for the rest of the batch.

Step 8 – Serve the Paturi with steaming white rice and Masoor daal.

Bhapa Shorshe Ilish

Bhapa Ilish is one of the most exotic Bengali dishes
Image Source: Wikimedia commons

Ilish or Hilsa is not just a fish for Bongs…it’s an experience! And Bhapa Shorshe Ilish is like the pinnacle of food ecstasy for fish lovers. Fresh Hilsa fish pieces steam-cooked in a rich mustard paste with a zesty aroma of mustard oil and green chillies- this is the kind of dish Bengalis decide their friends and foes over!

Ingredients:

  • 5 Hilsa fish fillets
  • 2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh grated coconut 
  • 8 slit green chillies 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp hung curd
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Recipe:

Step 1- Wash the fish and mix the fish pieces with turmeric and salt in a bowl.

Step 2- Soak the mustard seeds for 2 hours. Then make a paste of poppy seeds, mustard seeds, green chillies and a little salt.

Step 3- Mix the mustard seed paste with grated coconut and add the remaining turmeric powder.

Step 4- For making a shape we will need a stainless tiffin box with a tight-fitting lid that will help to keep the steam inside. The tiffin box should be heavy otherwise it will open inside water.

Step 5-Take the mustard paste in the tiffin box and whisk it with the hung curd. A smooth paste will form.

Step 6- Now place the fish in the tiffin box and coat the fish with the mixture. You need to cover the cavity and sides as well.

Step 7- Let the fish rest for 15 minutes. Rest the fish will let the fish absorb all the flavours. If you need a runny gravy add water and mix.

Step 8- After resting the fish, place each half split chillis on each Ilish piece. Drizzle some mustard oil over the fish and cover the lid tightly.

Step 9 – Take a large pan and place a stand or a bowl upside down on the middle of the pan so that the box doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Now add hot water in the pan slowly so that only half of the box is covered. Now cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.

Step 10-  After it is done remove the tiffin box (be extra careful as it may burn your skin). Open the tiffin box and add a little mustard oil.

Serve with steaming hot rice and green chilli.

Mourola Macher Jhal

Mourala Jhal is a perfect dish on a rainy day
Image Source: Youtube

Here’s an authentic Bengali fish recipe that would totally give the “Big fishes” a run for their money! Mourola Mach falls under the little fish category which is usually 2-3 inches in size. And this particular recipe is spicy, Makha Makha (not too dry or not too runny!) and cooked with potatoes and loads of green chillies!

Ingredients:

  • Mourola fish 250 gms (approximately 15-20 fish)
  • 1 medium-sized potato thinly sliced vertically (Optional)
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 6-7 green chillies finely chopped 2-3 slit whole
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • Chopped coriander
  • 3 tbsp. mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Recipe:

Step 1: Wash the Mourola fish and rub 1 tsp of each salt and turmeric powder all over them. In the same bowl mix the sliced potatoes. Keep these aside for 15-20 minutes.

Step 2: Heat mustard oil in a deep pan until smoky hot. Fry the potatoes until golden browns. Strain them out and keep them in a dish.

Step 3: In the same oil add the onions and fry them until they’re well cooked. Then add the chopped chillies, grated ginger, and tomatoes. Keep stirring and fry them on medium heat. Be careful not to burn, so you can also lower the heat.

Step 4: Once the tomatoes are mushy, add salt, turmeric coriander, cumin, and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix them well and keep cooking on low flame. Add a little water if too dry and then keep cooking for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Add the potatoes and the fish and mix everything together well. Be careful not to break the fish.

Step 6: Add half a cup of water and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes. Once the oil separates from the fish you get a nice red rich texture along with the Mourola’s aroma.

Step 7: Adjust water as per your preference. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and slit green chillies. Serve with steaming hot rice.

Fun tip: You can also relish this lip-smacking Mourola Chaat with drinks on a rainy evening with friends!

Rui Macher Jhol

When in doubt, go for Rui Macher Jhol
Image Source: Social Chef

Feeling low? Or not energetic enough to cook an elaborate dish? Rui Macher Jhol or the common Bengali fish curry comes to the rescue! It’s a simple recipe but is flavourful and most importantly, comforting and soul-filling. It tastes best with a bowl of steaming white rice.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Rui or Rohu fish pieces
  • 1 tsp of ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
  • Salt to taste

Recipe:

Step 1-  Wash the fish pieces and mix 1tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder. Rub all sides and set aside.

Step 2- In a pan add 4 tsp of mustard oil until it’s smoking hot. Heating mustard oil will kill the bitterness of mustard oil. Lower the flame to medium heat and fry the fish. and keep it aside. 

Step 3- Add onion, garlic, and ginger in the same oil and fry for 2 mins. Fry until the raw smell of onion is gone. Add tomato puree followed by turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder. Add 500 ml of hot water and cook for 5 minutes. Let the liquid reduce or the oil comes to the surface.

Step 4- Add the fish to the pan then lower the heat, add a pinch of sugar and cook until it is cooked through. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.

Step 5- Garnish the jhol with green coriander stems and green chillies. Serve with steamed rice.


Drooling already? We say, try some of these authentic Bengali fish recipes at home to experience the real flavours of Bengali cuisine. And when you’ve tried and tasted them all, let us know which one is your favourite in the comment section below!

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Alakananda Bhattacharya
Alakananda Bhattacharya
1 year ago

Absolutely scrumptious!! Can’t resist trying out some of these over the week. Thank you for sharing these delicious recipes. Shorshe Ilish is btw, my favourite!

Devika
Devika
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing the recipes , too tempting