A very light Bengali fish curry, that doesn’t call for onion or tomato. Just potato, eggplant and few mild spices is all it needs to prepare this Macher Jhol Aloo Begun Diye. Macher Jhol translates to fish curry, aloo means potato and Begun is eggplant. This simple light variety of Bengali fish curry is one of my absolute favorite. We also add dried lentil dumplings (daler bodi) which brings an earthy flavor to the dish. Paired with rice, it’s a great summertime meal.
This Macher Jhol is prepared using rui maach or rohu fish. But you can try catfish or salmon steak too.
Rohu Fish: It’s a lake water fish very common in Bengali cuisine. It is a species of carp family found in rivers in south Asia. It is not soft white fish and it does have a lot of bones.
In US, you can find it in Bangladeshi Stores and few selected Indian stores. It’s of course sold frozen and not fresh but taste really good.
Vegetarian version of this dish: You can absolutely omit the fish and turn it into a vegetarian meal, Aloo Begun er Jhol as we like to call it. One of my go to light veg curry.
Ingredients for Macher Jhol Aloo Begun Diye:
- Fish fillet (I used rohu, you can use catfish or salmon too)
- Fresh Green chili
- Cilantro leaves
- Little bot of flour to make a roux or slurry
- Nigella seeds
- Cumin powder
- Fennel powder
- Chili powder
We prepare Bengali style fish curry in Mustard oil, but you can definitely use regular vegetable oil as well.
It’s a one pot meal and you lightly fry the fish fillets before adding it to the gravy. To get that flaky texture of the fish, don’t fry for too long.
As a kid I was never a big fan of macher jhol, probably because Ma would prepare it so often in a week. For several years in US, I didn’t try to prepare any of these authentic Bengali fish curries.
Because I didn’t had access to such lake water fish until I found these Indian/ Bangladeshi stores selling these fishes I grew up eating.
Try these fish curries:
Kerala Style Fish Curry
Puti Maach Er Tok (Tangy Fish Stew)
Ilish Maach Kacha Kola Jhol (Hilsa Fish with Plantain and Potato)
Macher Jhol with Salmon
Macher Jhol Aloo Begun Diye
- 5 fillet or rohu fish
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 large potato
- 15 dried lentil dumplings (optional)
- ¼ cup mustard oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 green chilies (edge trimmed)
- 1 teaspoon wheat flour/all purpose flour
- Handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon turmeric on the fish fillet. Massage it around and leave it aside for 20 minutes.
- Slice the eggplant and the potato in wedges.
- Layer the eggplant on a colander and sprinkle little salt in it. Mix it around and leave it aside. This will soften the eggplant and avoid it from soaking too much oil.
- In a heavy bottom wok or pan, pour the oil and once the oil heats up, drop the dried lentils and fry it for few minutes for it to turn mild golden brown. Take it off the pan and keep aside.
- To the same pan slide the fish fillets carefully and fry it for 5 minutes, flipping once in between. Remember not to overcrowd the pan when frying the fillets. Once done take it off the pan.
- Now from the pan remove excess oil and leave about 2 tablespoons.
- Keep the pan in medium heat and sprinkle the nigella seeds along
with the bay leaf. Let it sizzle for few seconds.
- Scatter the potato wedges, sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon
turmeric. Stir it around and fry for 3 minutes.
- Scatter the eggplant along with ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
and fry for 2 minutes.
- In a bowl mix the cumin powder, fennel powder and chili powder with little water. Pour this spice paste to the pan and stir it around. Drop the trimmed green chilies. Keep cooking for 5 minutes tossing around every now and then.
- Drop the fried lentil dumplings that was kept aside.
- Pour 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix it around. Bring it to boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes or until the potatoes and eggplant are cooked through.
- Slice the fried fish fillets carefully and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
- The gravy will be watery at this point.
- In a bowl add the flour with 2 tablespoons water and whisk. Make sure there is no lump. Pour it to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Taste for salt and add any if needed.
- Sprinkle the cilantro leaves and enjoy the macher jhol warm