Macher Jhol

bengali fish curry

Macher Jhol refers to fish curry in Bengali and there are countless different ways fish curry can be prepared. What I am sharing today is the simplest version of a Bengali fish curry using salmon. This way even if you can’t find the authentic lake water fish, you will still get to enjoy Bengali style Macher Jhol with salmon. 

Macher Jhol 

To break it down, machrefers to fish and jholrefers to gravy based curry. This particular macher jhol is the everyday Bengali fish curry, with is often prepared with rohu fish
The recipe includes just a handful of very basic ingredients. Believe it or not, the curry calls for just 1 spice and that’s nigella seeds.
Typically, Bengali fish curries are prepared with fresh lake water fish, which is not easily available everywhere. But you can prepare the exact same dish with salmon and it’s delicious. Not to mention this salmon curry is really easy and quick!

Salmon fish curry with Indian spices prepared Bengali Style!

What ingredient goes in Macher Jhol with Salmon

You will need very few ingredients to prepare this macher jhol with salmon curry.

Salmon Fillets – I used skinless but you can use fillet with skin on too.

Onion – I would suggest red onion because that goes very well with macher jhol.

Tomatoes – Juicy red tomatoes and you should not replace it with canned tomato puree.

The Spices:

Nigella Seeds – The only spice that goes in this fish curry and you absolutely cannot substitute this spice. This spice has a mild bitter taste, a gorgeous pungent flavor that completely rules the flavor of the curry. Finding this spice can be a little tricky as it often gets confused with black sesame seeds, onion seeds or black cumin. This is definitely quite easily available in most Indian stores, but you can also get it online.

Salt, Sugar and Turmeric – Turmeric will add the gorgeous yellow color. Salt and sugar for seasoning.

Fresh Green Chili – Almost every Bengali fish curry calls for fresh green chili. I throw these whole just for flavor and because our kid is still not into spicy food. So, if you want it spicier, definitely chop the green chilies and sauté it with onion in the beginning of the cooking.

Like most Bengali fish curries, this too is prepared in mustard oil. Mustard oil gives a lovely pungent flavor. If you absolutely don’t want to use it, you can use your choice of vegetable oil instead.

As you can see from the list of ingredients, this Macher Jhol is extremely simple and very mildly spiced.

Bengali Macher Jhol with Salmon | macherjhol #foodphotography #bengalifishcurry #fishcurry #seafood #indianfood

Traditionally, this fish curry recipe is prepared using Rohu fish (rui mach). It is a species of fish from carp family. The fish is deep fried before adding it to the gravy.

When preparing Macher Jhol with Salmon, you don’t need to deep-fry the fish fillets. Just a simple pan fry before adding to the gravy.

KEY POINT to remember is to not overcook the salmon or else, it will turn rubbery and definitely not tasty.

Growing up, I never liked macher jhol (fish curry) and that could be because I was bored of eating it every other day. After I moved to US, I had prepared this exact curry using salmon few years back. I was not happy with how it turned out. For several years after that, I pretty much stopped making fish curries Bengali style.

Then, when I was writing my cookbook – Taste of Eastern India, I came across a Bangladeshi store close by. They kept all these lake water fishes that I grew up eating, except it’s kept frozen. I couldn’t resist and gave it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I missed Macher Jhol!

Here are few other seafood dishes you might want to try:

15 Minutes Salmon Vegetable 

Creamy Salmon Piccata 

bengali macher jhol 02

Macher Jhol with Salmon

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Macher Jhol refers to fish curry in Bengali and there are countless different ways fish curry can be prepared. Typically, Bengali fish curries are prepared with fresh lake water fish, which is not easily available everywhere. But you can prepare the exact same dish with salmon and it’s delicious, not to mention it's really easy and quick!


  • 6 salmon fillets
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium size red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium size tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon all purpose flour
  • 3 fresh green chili
  • fresh cilantro finely chopped for garnish and flavor


  1. Marinate the salmon fillets with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon turmeric. Leave it aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Place a skillet at medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, layer the fillets and fry for 1 minute on each side. Then, take it off the pan and keep it aside to be used later.
  3. In the same pan, sprinkle the nigella seeds and give it a few seconds to sizzle. Then, scatter the onion along with the salt, rest of the turmeric and sugar. Stir around and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stir around. Cook for 1 minute. Then, pour 1 and ½ cup of water. Bring it to a boil, cover and let it simmer for 7 minutes.
  5. After 7 minutes, prepare a roux by mixing the flour with 2 tablespoons of water. This will thicken the curry.
  6. Pour it to the pan.
  7. Layer the fish fillets, drop the green chilies and let it simmer for 3 minutes.
  8. Finally, sprinkle the cilantro and serve it warm with steamed rice.
Bengali Macher Jhol with Salmon | macherjhol #foodphotography #bengalifishcurry #fishcurry #seafood #indianfood

Disclaimer: This is old post that I republished with better photos and a video! Back in 2011, I had shared it with Cook Like  a Bong and original event Kitchen Chronicles.

Macher Jhol 4

Did you enjoy this Macher Jhol? Share your creation by tagging @playfulcooking on Instagram with the #playfulcooking and I will re-share in my story!

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Comments are closed.

  • tigerfish
    January 19, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    I don’t think you suck at it. It looks delicious!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      January 19, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      Thanks 🙂 Still learning ..

  • vickie
    January 19, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Sounds and looks wonderful- oh I too need to expand my cooking skills. I think you’ll be a expert soon.

  • Dhritiman
    February 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Inspired from ur blog, i tried my hands in cooking. Cooked simple dishes and came out moderately good. Next in line is the fish curry…wish me all d best 😉

  • Yogesh Pradhan
    Yogesh Pradhan
    March 13, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    I made a mistake once and repeating it for every 5 weekends now. We all just luv this reciepe. i addition to that have tried hands on couple of others too. It came out deliciously well. Thanks ..

  • Sandra's Easy Cookin
    Sandra's Easy Cookin
    August 26, 2012 at 6:35 AM

    It does look very delicious…Great recipe Kankana!

  • angiesrecipes
    September 19, 2019 at 7:48 PM

    It looks mouthwatering! I want to drink that curry gravy :-))

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:47 PM

      I hope you will give it a try Angie 🙂

  • Matt - Total Feasts
    Matt - Total Feasts
    September 20, 2019 at 10:42 PM

    When I hear fish curry, I usually avoid because I think it means I will have to buy a bunch of ingredients I don’t normally keep. So I’m reading this thinking ‘I have most of this’, plus its salmon! I can’t wait to try it!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:47 PM

      Most Indian recipes I think lives on a myth that it calls for too many ingredients and needs too much time 🙂 I hope you will give this curry a try!

  • Abbe@This is How I Cook
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    September 21, 2019 at 8:01 PM

    So glad you republished or I might have missed it. Love the use of salmon!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:48 PM

      Different from the usual way 🙂 Glad you liked it!

  • Kelly | Foodtasia
    Kelly | Foodtasia
    September 22, 2019 at 7:15 AM

    Kankana, this fish curry looks amazing! I love how the sauce is thin and it looks so delicious! I always see the frozen fish in our local Desi store. I will give it a try!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:49 PM

      This is such a hearty curry 🙂 Let me know how you like it!

  • Mona
    September 22, 2019 at 1:34 PM

    I recently got your book and am making the Kolkata chicken biryani. However, you ask us to put half the ground spices into the chicken marinade and then don’t mention what to do with the other half. Where is the other half meant to go?

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 22, 2019 at 5:18 PM

      Hi Mona,

      I am so glad you bought a copy of my cookbook 🙂 Sorry for the confusion on the spice. I should have added a note probably saying you will need only half of the spice mix. The rest of it won’t be needed, unless of course you are making in big bulk or prefer more spicy. Hope I answered your question. I am looking forward to see how you liked the biryani!

      • Mona
        September 23, 2019 at 3:50 PM

        I actually ended up adding the rest of the spices with the saffron milk and it came out delicious that way!

        • Kankana Saxena
          Kankana Saxena
          September 25, 2019 at 8:49 PM

          Thant’s a clever way of using the extra spice mix. I will try it next time 🙂

  • Neil
    September 23, 2019 at 3:01 AM

    I can’t remember the last time I had a fish curry. This has me craving a fish curry right now. Looks so easy to make too! Thanks for sharing this recipe Kankana.

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:50 PM

      This is probably the easiest fish curry you will come across. Do give it a try Neil 🙂

  • David @ Spiced
    David @ Spiced
    September 23, 2019 at 4:41 AM

    We were actually talking this past weekend about how we want to eat more salmon, but we needed some new salmon recipe ideas. It’s like your read our mind! This looks delicious, Kankana!

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:50 PM

      This is indeed a very unique way to use salmon. Let me know if you try it David 🙂

  • Balvinder
    September 25, 2019 at 5:55 PM

    I adore salmon but never used it in a curry. I don’t know why?
    The curry certainly looks delish and I am inspired to try it this weekend.

    • Kankana Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      September 25, 2019 at 8:51 PM

      Yeah I know few friends who loves fried fish or grilled but not much in a curry. Hope you will give it a try 🙂

  • Kaveri
    October 16, 2019 at 6:09 PM

    Very nice, simple recipe. Attractive presentation too.

  • shridhar
    November 9, 2019 at 5:50 AM

    Nice receipe .
    I like to eat fish but the problem is how to avoid the fishbone getting stucked in the pharynx..

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