Tilapia Macher Jhal – Fish in Onion Gravy

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How long can a Bengali live without fish? Since I came here to Austin, I had been living on chicken and eggs. But, a meal without fish is almost like a no-meal. So, the search for fish began. My first choice was of course rohu or catla or something similar to that.

The search led me to Whole Foods. There was a big array of fishes there, the names of which I have never heard of excepting for salmon. I asked the guy there about rohu, his reply was something I never expected – “Is there any other name for the fish you are searching?” not much a fan of salmon or sardines I got a frozen packet of tilapia from Walmart and tried making it the Bong way.

The result was definitely good. Having macher jhol after so long was really a reward by itself. And, the tilapia jhal from Soma’s blog really influenced a lot for preparing this dish.

Tilapia Jhal

Indian, Side, Bengali fish curry, Tilapia spicy gravy
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 1 whole tilapia, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1cup water
  • 3 tablespoon of mustard oil
  • 2 sprigs of coriander, finely chopped
Directions
  • • Clean the fish well and mix with ½ tsp turmeric powder and salt
  • • Heat about 2 tablespoon of oil in a thick skillet and fry the fish till it turns golden brown in color
  • • Heat about a teaspoon of mustard oil in a wok and throw in the onions, fry till they turn translucent
  • • Add all the spices, season with salt and pour in water
  • • Cook covered till the gravy thickens
  • • Add in the fried fishes and cook for about 2-3 mins more
  • • Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves
  • • Serve with warm white rice

Hot Tips- You can use potatoes also in the gravy, chop the potatoes into wedges, fry a little and add to the wok just before adding the spices. Instead of mustard oil canola or other vegetable oil can also be used.

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15 Comments

  1. The ‘Rohu’ throughout the world is known as carp. Milk carp, grass carp, etc. are different forms of rohu one can generally get outside India. Your recipe is immensely appealing, but if you don’t mind may I also suggest using a clove of garlic or two to be conjoined with onions while the latter is fried? Thank you.

    • Hi Saumen,
      I generally don’t add garlic to fish, but yes definitely it would give that garlicky feel to the gravy.

  2. Dear Didi

    thank u for good tilapia recipe – really like it the bong style – onik darun holo

  3. thanks for this lovely recipe….i made ths today for lunch

  4. Hi Sudeshna & Kalyan,

    Like you I was missing fish curry for a long time and I was brave enough to buy a Telapia fish when I was shopping with my Japanese wife and my 6 years old daughter but had no clue how to cook it. All I had in my mind was ” How testy was it when I used to have it back home a long, long time ago”
    I was in tense but pretended very confident to my wife that of course I know how to cook this fish, came home and first thing I did was looking for my iPad and start to browse for ” Begali Style Telapia Fish Curry”
    The first thing I found was your blog – Shotty Onek Dhonnobad and I am now really very confident now to cook the weekend diner for us tonight.
    Looking forward to learn a lot more from you.
    Once again thank you so much and keep it up.

  5. Pingback: Bata Mach Sarse Diye- Fish in Rich Mustard Gravy | Cook like a Bong

  6. Pingback: Macher Matha Diye Moog Dal | Cook like a Bong

  7. Hi Sudeshna & Kalyan 🙂
    Prothomei janai amar antorik shubhechha aar abhinondon.I am a big fan of your blog. every month I am waiting for your new post.Amra ekhon Melbourne e thaki,tai, tomar moto amar o prothom prothom maach chhara, kemon jeno lagto, aar Frozen machh jotoi bhalo hok, tao kemon jeno ekta lagto khete, tai ami dhire dhire ekhankar local machh try korte laglam, Bengali style e. Jemon Tilapia, Mullet, Baramundi, Pomfret… jano ekhane amader okhaner moto fresh kucho machh o paoa jai,” Baite ” bole.Ami janina US e te eigulo fresh paoa jai kina, Mullet ta anekta amader rui machher moto khete, ota diye machher mathar daal darun hoyechhilo.Asole I love to eat fresh stuff, aar amar mone hoy tomader tai bhalo lagbe. Aasa kori amar ei tip tomader bhalo lagbe. So please if you get time, just try once, and let me know 🙂
    Last but not the least, from 14th April ami you tube e “Foodieshut”bole ekta cooking show korchhi, somoy pele dekho…
    tomader wish & suggestion pele khhub bhalo lagbe.
    bye 🙂

    • Sudeshna Banerjee

      Foodieshut-er janne anek anek wishes. Please link share koro, r nischoi dekhbo. Natun natun macher naam shune besh bhalo laglo. Ekhaner mach ami ekhono explore korini, Tabe tumi jegulo bolle ebar ae naam diye try korbo jodi pai, Thank you.
      Natun bachorer tomakeo anek anek suvechcha.

  8. Buffalo as katla

  9. So maach ranna shuru holo? You know when i was in India, I did not like maach other than choto maach that much.. in the sense I did not have to eat it everyday like a true Bong, but now that I do not have easy access to it, I crave it every single day;D

    thanks for the link.. ekhankar tilapia does not taste same as India. Try to find a Bangladeshi grocery store and they will have frozen fish. Frozen but good. rohu, choto maach, ilish etc.. onek boro maach ora kete clean kore debe.. but if you eat fish regularly if won’t take you long to finish it. Amar maach khawar lok nei bolay mushkil hoye shesh korte..

    BTW.. Rohu will be better recognized as Carp here.. sometimes available in Asian Markets.. Also look for Shad in Asian markets which are smaller versions of Ilish.

    • Sudeshna Banerjee

      Thank you so much for the comment. Yes, maach khawa suru holo. Maach chara keman ekta lagchilo :). Will remember about carp and shad. Ekhane ache ki Asian r Bangladeshi store but a little far, tai ekhan nijer garir janne wait korchi. Gari kinlei soja age macher dokan-e 🙂

      • I really enjoy your site. Reading about Bangla food, is the next best thing to eating it … and, no matter what I make, it never tastes like Maa’r ranna 🙂

        Anyway, try Grass Carp (there are many varieties of carp) … grass carp is very similar to Rui. My dad approved … so, it had to be close:) We find in the west coast fresh at 99 Ranch. Shad is truly very similar in taste to ilish.

        Chalo, best wishes.

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