Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp Scampi

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When there is a baby at home, it’s really hard to cook. You chop the onions, and there he is under the table, you heat the oil and about to add the onions in the skillet and there he is eating a magazine page. The last 6 months have taught me a lot of things, but above all it has taught me to multitask.

These days I try searching for food, which is wholesome and is easy to cook. When it comes to cooking time, nothing can beat shrimps. You can cook shrimps in less than 5 minutes, you don’t believe it, try it. Whether its the Bengali favorite chingrir malaikari or Italian style shrimp scampi, shrimp is the easiest and quickest meal you can prepare. You can prepare scampi and serve it as an appetizer, or you can also serve it with rice or pasta.

I am not a big fan of pasta, but I love angel’s hair pasta, the thin and smooth texture of the cooked pasta steals my heart every time.

Angel Hair Pasta



Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2
A quick and easy lunch
  1. For the scampi-
  2. 1lb fresh shrimps
  3. 1 tablespoon butter
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  7. A few sprigs of parsley
  8. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  9. ½ cup dry white wine
  10. Salt to taste
  11. For the pasta-
  12. 1 lb angel’s hair pasta
  13. 2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. For the pasta, boil a large pot of water, when the water starts boiling add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cover and let the water come to a boil. Once it starts boiling keep it on high heat for 6-8 minutes or till the pasta is soft to touch. Drain in a colander and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick to each other
  2. In a skillet add the olive oil and butter and wait till the butter is melted. Saute the chopped garlic and let it start to sizzle.
  3. Add the chili flakes and shrimp. Season with salt.
  4. Chop the parsley leaves and add it to the shrimp, give it a good toss and then pour the wine.
  5. Let the shrimps simmer in a the wine sauce for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Divide the pasta in 4 equal parts, and top with equal portions of the scampi. Garnish with parmesan cheese
  1. You can use cilantro leaves instead of the parsley and if you don't like to add the wine then substitute it with chicken or vegetable stock/broth.
Cook like a Bong


Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp Scampi


Bhendi Diye Chingri

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Now, this is a tricky question. Do you think Bengalis are all about fish? Whenever I meet someone who is not a Bong, he/she always ask me this question – do you eat vegetables or is it just fish? Growing up in a family with my widowed grand mom, I have seen lots of vegetables being made at home, vegetables curries without even the hint of onion or garlic – and believe it or not those tasted heavenly.

Its probably because Bengal being such a fertile land and with loads of rivers the balance between vegetables and fish is always there. Whereas in the Western parts of India though the majority of population is vegetarian they mostly stick to different types of lentils for their daily home made recipes.What is your opinion of this?

Chingri Bhendir Tarkari

Coming to vegetables in Bengal, especially in summer, its like a fair. The different types of veggies that you get in the market is beyond imagination, and of these patol or pointed gourd and bhendi or okra are two of my favorites.

My grandmother had her way into the kitchen. Her way of balancing whole spices and ground ones had its own unique style. She used to make this dry curry with okra, pumpkin and potatoes with just a little nigella – and it was tasted out of the world. I made this the same way with just a little twist – I added a few shrimps to it.

Chingri Diye Bhendi

Indian, Side, Prawns, Bengali shrimp recipe, Bangla ranna, Bengali cuisine, Bengali vegetables
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • 1 cup okra, split lenthwise
  • 1 cup cued pumpkin
  • 1 cup cubed potatoes
  • 8-10 medium size shrimps
  • 1 teaspoon nigella
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and lightly fry the shrimps tll they turn pinkish in color and starts to curl, take out and place them in a kitchen towel to drain out the excess oil
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a wok, mix a pinch of salt and turmeric to the split okra and lightly fry them. Take out and keep aside
  • In the same oil add the nigella, and saute till they start sputtering. Add the pumpkin and potatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour about 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and mix the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt – mix to make a runny paste. Pour the paste to the wok and mix to coat the vegetables
  • Stir till the spices start to dry, make sure it doesn\'t stick to the bottom of the wok. Pour in about 1 ½ cup of water and cook covered till the vegetables are almost cooked
  • Add the okra and shrimps, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot with warm white rice or roti.

Chingri Bhendi

Hot Tips – Okra being a very slimy vegetables, its always better to wash and then cut the okra. If you do it the other way, the okra will be slimier making the gravy very gooey. Also, that’s the reason I fry the okra first and then put it in the curry.

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Chingri Bhorta – Spicy Stir Fried Shrimp Paste

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Shrimps are quick and easy to prepare and auspiciously tasty. You can cook shrimps in less than 10 minutes and your family will be just happy to have it at the dinner table.

Shrimps have their own way of making a boring curry like lau-er tarkari (bottle gourd curry) or kumro boti into something with a wonderful taste and gives a different feel to the texture. And, when it comes to talking about shrimps how can chingrir malaikari (shrimps in sweet coconut gravy) be far behind. This sweet and thick authentic Bengali recipe is a pride of the Bengali kitchen. It cooks almost instantly, but is one of the most coveted recipes.

Chingri Bharta

I had always been fond of shrimps and prawns, and the bhapa chingri (steamed praws) is one of my favorite recipes. One of my favorite bloggers, Pree of Preeoccupied posted a chingri bharta recipe yesterday and I couldn’t resist but cook it. It took me less than ten minutes to prepare it but it was an instant hit for the weekend lunch. Pree had not fried the onions and used it to garnish, but I thought of frying it, so you can try either way.

Chingri Bhorta

Indian, Side, Chingri bharta, Shrimp bharta, Bengali shrimp recipe, Prawn recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • 2 cups deveined, deshelled clean shrimps
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped coarsely
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 green chili, chopped
  • 4 whole dried red chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Heat about a tablespoon of mustard oil in a skillet, add the shrimps and toss for 2 minutes. Take out and keep for later
  • Pour another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and stir fry the onion, garlic , red and green chili. As the onions turn translucent, add the shrimps with the ground spices and season with salt. Stir for a minutes, and transfer everything in a blender jar
  • Use the pulse mode in the blender to coarsely grind the shrimps.
  • Transfer to a bowl, pour in the extra mustard oil, serve instantly with warm white rice and masurir dal.

Chingri Bhorta

Hot Tips – This recipe is so easy to prepare, that it makes a good side dish for week night dinners. If you don’t have a grinder or the pulse mode in your grinder, don’y worry, just chop the shrimps coarsely with a chef’s knife.

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Bata Mach Sarse Diye- Fish in Rich Mustard Gravy

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How long do you think a Bong can be without fish? Not long. With tens of rivers crisscrossing the state and the huge Bay of Bengal in South Bongs have a special knack for fish. Fish is not only a part of the Bengali cuisine, but it’s a part of Bengali rituals, customs; a part of the Bengali life.

Fish is considered as a good omen and so in every Bengali wedding a big whole rui or rohu is sent to the bride’s house from the groom’s as a token of bonding between the two families. Offering ilish (hilsa) to goddess Saraswati has been an age old custom.

There are hundreds of different types of fish that you’ll get in the markets, and more are the varieties of the way these fishes are cooked. To broadly classify the way of cooking fish is a hard task. First, to mention is the daily cooked patla macher jhol. This is the style of cooking preferably the fresh catch, with very little spices and green chilies, garnished with cilantro. Next comes the more rich and spicier version – the jhal jhol and kaliya. Seasoned with onions, garlic and ginger, kaliya are mainly meant for the occasional treats. A slight diversion from the spicy fish preparation is fish cooked in mustard gravy. While preparing hilsa this is the most well known technique, but there are smaller fishes like bata, parshe, fyasha and pabda which taste divine is a thick mustard gravy.

Bata Maach _2

There are numerous other ways of cooking fish that are prevalent among Bongs. And, when talking about fish and its way of preparation the simple fish fry is a class apart. I remember back in my school days, Sunday was my fish fry day. My mom used to save a piece of deep fried fish for me to gorge on to while watching Alice in Wonderland on Doordarshan.

Bata (Labeo bata ) fish is one of the most common small fishes growing in ponds and rivers of Bengal, its is of the same genus as the much more famous rohu (Labeo rohita), and so its tastes quite similar. You can prepare it in a non spicy gravy with just nigella and green chilies, seasoned with turmeric, cumin and salt or make this richer version in mustard gravy.

Bata Mach Sarse Diye

Indian, Side, Bengali fish recipe, Authentic bengali recipe, Fish recipe, Fish in mustard sauce
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • 8 whole Bata fish
  • 3 tablespoon mustard paste
  • 1 teaspoon nigella
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 4-5 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • Few sprigs of coriander for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil, extra for frying
  • Salt to taste
  • Clean the fish very carefully, coat generously with 1½ teaspoon turmeric powder and salt.
  • Heat about 3-4 tablespoon oil in a wok and fry the fishes in batches till they harden a little, dont over fry the fishes
  • In a small bowl add turmeric, chili powder and salt; mix and add the mustard paste
  • Throw away the excess oil from frying, clean the wok and heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok. Add the nigella, as they start sputtering pour in the spices paste. As the spices start to dry out add about a cup of water, and the green chilies. Cook for 5-7 minutes till the gravy thickens
  • Carefully place the fried fishes in the gravy and cook for another 23 minutes, the fish will become tender
  • Take out of the heat, garnish with coriander if using and serve with warm white rice.

Bata Maach _1

How to make mustard paste?

Most of you who are away from Bengal will probably have a hard time preparing mustard paste. The traditional mustard paste in sheel nora has almost become a folk lore now. Here’s how I do it. You can get mustard seeds in Amazon or your nearby Indian grocery store. All you need to have is a coffee grinder, which you’ll get in Amazon or other big retailers for $14-20. Take about 3-4 tablespoon of mustard seeds or till the spice level and grind to fine powder. Mix this mustard powder with water, turmeric and salt and your mustard paste will be ready in less than a minute.

Hot Tips – Heat the oil to smoking hot before frying the fish, low heated oil makes the fish skin to come out. If you are still unsure, then add a little flour to the fish before frying. And, the trick to have a perfect fish fry is not disturb the fish until one side is fully done. Once the fish is fully fried on one side, it will itself leave the bottom of the wok, and you can easily turn it around.

Some people suffer from indigestion after having mustard, the best way to avoid that is avoid the black mustard.

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Chital Macher Muittha

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Happy New Year to all our readers at Cook Like a Bong. A few months back one of our readers mentioned that even though we are a blog mainly with Bengali recipes, we put up less recipes on fish, the heart and soul of Bengalis. The reason behind it is where I stay there were not much options to have fish. But, with a new store that just opened I now have access to almost all fishes that I used to get back when I was in Kolkata. So, hopefully this year I’ll have many more authentic Bengali fish recipes to share with you all.

Last weekend I went to the store to get some of the common fishes from Bengal – rohu, hilsa, tengra. But, to my surprise there were more, and the best part was a box of minced chital. Chitol or the clown knifefish is one of my favourites. These are huge fishes and with loads of bones. The spicy and oily preparation of chital belly (peti) is one of the many recipes to drool over from the Bengali kitchen. But, there is more to chital, than just its belly. Scraping of the other parts of the fish (discarding the bones) and frying those into dumplings – chital macher muithya is another very popular way of cooking this fish.

Chitol Macher Muittha

I’m not sure how the name “muittha” was derived. But, the preparation is a fishy form of the kancha kalar kofta or the Bengali style malai kofta. The ground fish is mixed with spices, made into balls and fried. These fried dumplings are then cooked in rich gravy and served with rice.

Chital Macher Muithya

Indian, Side, Authentic bengali fish recipe, Chital maach, Fish recipe, Fish dumpling
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • For the duplings:
  • 250gms ground Chital
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3-4 chopped green chilies
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • For the gravy:
  • 1 medium size potato, cut into squares
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Bring the ground fish to normal temperature. Mix all the ingredients for the dumplings, and make small balls or shapes of your choice.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, and deep fry the dumplings. Take out and rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
  • Heat the mustard oil for the gravy. Mix a pinch of salt and turmeric powder with the chopped potatoes and fry lightly. Take out and store.
  • Mix all the spices expect garam masala in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of water
  • Throw in the whole cumin seeds to the same oil, add the potatoes, and pour in the spice paste. Stir for a little while till the spices coat the potatoes and the oil starts separating. Season with salt. Pour in about 1 cup of warm water and cook covered till the potatoes are soft.
  • Gently place the fish dumplings in the gravy. Add the ghee and garam masala. Turn of the heat. Wait for 5-10mins before serving, let the gravy get inside the dumplings

Hot Tips- While making the dumpling, if the mixture sees to be too sticky add a little more cornflour. The dumplings suck in the gravy, so its better to take the dumplings out of the gravy and keep separately. Mix them in again once you are ready to serve

Chitol Muittha

Sending this recipe to Traditional and Native Recipes hosted by Sara.

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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
  • 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
  • • 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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Rui Macher Vada

They say when in Rome, act like a Roman. But, that does not go much for me here in Bangalore. I can’t much act like a Bangalorean. I still crave for fish and I still didn’t fall in love with curry leaves.

I truly believe what Sandip exclaims – maache bhaate Bangali (Fish and rice makes a Bengali). The smell of sautéed onions in macher jhol or sound of spluttering kalo jeera – will surely drive any fish lover crazy.

I still miss the sabji diye macher jhol. Even though I prepare it in my Bangalore home with Andhra rohu, there is no match to the fresh catch from the nearby pond in Kolkata. I miss the freshness of the local pond fishes. The fishes are mostly cold stored and comes to the market almost after 7 days after being caught. Any idea where to get fresh catch in Bangalore?

The not-so-fresh fishes do not add any taste to non-spicy curries, the only way of cooking such fishes is to make a curry with onions, garlic and ginger. I figured out, another way – fish fritters. I have fried the macher vada. If you are calorie conscious, you can also bake it after painting each fritter with little oil or fat. You can use this mix also to make patol-er korma or use it as a stuffing for sandwiches and burgers.


200 gms rohu or any other fresh water fish
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon semolina
1 medium size onion, chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
A few sprigs of coriander leaves (optional), chopped
3-4 green chilies
Salt to taste
Oil for frying


• Boil the fish pieces and carefully take out the bones
• Mix with the mashed potato and all other ingredients except the oil
• Make 1” balls with both your palms
• Press the balls from either side to make a flattened shape of half-inch width
• Heat oil in a frying pan
• As the oil gets piping hot, set the fritters to fry one side at a time
• Turn over as one side becomes almost brown in color
• Take out of flame and drain the excess oil patting with a kitchen towel
• Serve hot with tomato sauce and drinks of your choice

Hot Tips – If you want to make it as a burger filling, then prepare the balls larger in size. For making a fish bhurji, fry the onions first then add all other ingredients.

Chingri Aam Kasundi

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Monsoon has set sail in almost all parts of India, and hilsa, the monsoon queen has arrived in truck loads in the fish markets. But, this fish doesn’t come cheap, a kilogram ranges from 300 INR to 800 INR in India and almost 3-6$ for a pound in US. In spite of that hilsa makes it to the lunch plate in Bengali home.

While eating hilsa during monsoon is almost like a ritual among Bengali, another fish has its stand all through the year. Ask any Biologist, he’ll say its not a fish but a mere insect belonging to the same class as cockroaches and milipedes.  Oops, did you ever thing about that while having prawns/shrimps. I hope not.

Chingri maach (prawn fish) is one of the most loved “fishes” among all fish eaters. Fried or curried shrimps and prawns has its own place among the fish lovers. Whether, you put it in a gourd curry or steamed with mustard paste, shrimps/prawns are just unique to taste. And, when talking about chingri, how can we forget the irresistible authentic Bengali recipe – the chingrir malaikari.

Debjani Chaudhuri, our todays guest has sent a rather different recipe for preparing prawns. The tangy and tasty preparation has loads of mustard paste and raw mangoes to get that familiar yet so different taste of the prawns. Try Debjani’s achari murgh.


  • 250 gms Prawns (washed and deveined).
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of yellow and black mustard seeds
  • 1 raw mango
  • 4-5 Green chilies
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch sugar



  • Grind the mustard seeds with 1-2 green chilies, coconut (if adding), and a pinch of salt and little water. Keep aside.
  • Smear the prawns with little salt and turmeric and keep covered.
  • Heat the oil and add 1-2 green chilies, when splutter, add the prawns.
  • Sauté on low for a couple of minutes or till the prawns turn a little coral in color.
  • Add the raw mango and a pinch of salt.
  • Keep mixing with a very light hand till the raw smell of the mangoes is gone.
  • Add the mustard paste and turmeric.
  • Give it a good mix and cook on low heat, till it coats the prawns.
  • Add 1 cup water.
  • Mix, add sugar and salt and if required chili powder.
  • Cover and let it simmer on low till all the water evaporates and the gravy coats the prawns.
  • Turn off the gas and pour in a serving bowl before it become too thick.
  • Treat your taste buds with hot and tangy Chingri Aam Kashundi.


Hot Tips – I personally like to keep the head for more flavors. One can omit according to wish. On un-availability of mustard paste, you can add kashundi. Add 3tsp of kashundi. I have cut it into small cubes, you can use it grated. You can add 3 tablespoon of grated coconut to balance the pungency of mustard n tart of green mango.

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Hilsa Fry in Microwave

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I have never gone to any Fish market (macher bajar) other than in Kolkata (in Bangalore I like shopping my kitchen requirements at Spencer’s), and so am not aware of the non-Kolkata Macher Bajar scene. The mud-spattered floors of the fish market,  big chunks of ice being crushed in gunny bags, the fishy smell (which is actually a mix of smells of 20 different fish types) hovering all over and the shouts and calls from all the vendors gives the fish market its distinct feel. Bengalis love fish and to top it, Bongs love buying fish from those dirty fish markets.

I am sure there aren’t any fish markets in any part of India that can compete with the variety of fishes sold in fish stalls in Bengal. Fishes from the nearby ponds, fishes from rivers, fishes from seas – you name it and it will sure be available there. There are different seasons where some fishes are available predominantly; monsoon brings one such fish that you can call the “Queen of fishes”, the quintessential Ilish, or Hilsa. This sea fish comes to the river for laying eggs, their flesh gets sweetened by the fresh water of the river and that’s the best catch. Hilsa from the Ganges and Padma are world famous.

Hilsa costs a fortune so to say, the last time I went to the market a couple of days back it was 500INR per kilogram. But, price doesn’t make the fish lovers stay away from this silver delicacy. The shiny silvery colors with a pinkish tinge on its dorsal side make this fish a discrete item among all other fishes. Other than fish Bengalis have another obsession, its football, and nothing can better the fish football combo. It has almost become a custom for the fans of East Bengal Club (a county football club in Kolkata, for the uninitiated) to celebrate the team’s wins with a platter of Ilish. I’m not sure of the origin of this combo. If you know about the relationship, I request you to comment about the connection between East Bengal’s wins and hilsa.

The softness of its flesh and its awesome taste has made it the queen among all fishes. But, some people who are not so much efficient on taking out bones from fishes like to stay away from hilsa. So, to end this problem Marco Polo, a fine dining restaurant in Kolkata and now nationwide popular restaurant Oh! Calcutta had been hosting festival for Boneless Hilsa, not sure though how it will taste.

Fish is indispensable in any Bengali celebration, and if the festival / celebration is in the monsoons, Hilsa is always present at the dinner table. There are scores of different dishes prepared with Ilish –  Ilish Bhapa, Ilish pulao, Ilish macher  jhol, and many others. But the most quick and easy one is the fried hilsa. A tablespoon of the oil in which the fish was fried with warm rice and a piece of the fried fish – I’m sure any Bengali would give up his tooth and eyes to have such a platter.

I had seen my mom frying fish in the same old wok since the time I used to peek into her kitchen. This time I thought of trying out something new. I fried the hilsa in microwave. It turned out to be a success, the quantity of oil for frying was also less and was hassle free, that’s the best part of microwave cooking, I believe.

What’s your Ilish memory?

Preparation time: 2 min
Cooking time: 8 min
Makes 4 fish fries
  • 4 pieces hilsa/ilish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon Mustard Oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash the fish pieces and put it in an open microwave safe bowl
  • Coat the hilsa pieces with turmeric powder and salt
  • Add the mustard oil over the fish
  • Put the bowl in microwave oven and microwave high (800watts) for 7 – 8mins
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips – You can also cook it in an wok, take a little more oil than mentioned here and heat it in a wok. Gently slide the fish into the wok and fry one side at a time turning it once the side has become brown and cooked.

Further Reading – Bengal-Hilsa, Ilish Curry

Sabji Diye Macher Jhol

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Some years back, I had gone to Shimla with my parents and younger sister, who had just got promoted to first standard. 3 days we stayed at the Hotel Oberoi Cecil in Shimla. The gorgeous hotel with its lavish spread, I was in love with the hotel. But, from the second day onwards my kid sister started craving for ma-er macher jhol (fish curry – mom’s style). So much so that on the second day she entered the kitchen and went to the chef asking to prepare a fish curry with potatoes. And, there from the Oberoi kitchen came out, which nobody expected – a fish curry similar to what mom always cooks at home.

I later reasoned that she asked for that non spicy fish curry which was familiar. This happens to almost all of us. A Bengali staying in New York will surely know the address of the nearest Bengali restaurant.

At home, back in Kolkata, a summer lunch always consist of shukto, dal and fries, a vegetable curry and of course a non vegetarian gravy dish that might include fish, egg or meat, but preferably fish. The fish in most days is prepared with the minimum amount of spices keeping in mind the hot and humid weather of the Tropics.

The mom made fish curry is something that can’t be matched with anything on earth. Whether you visit one of the finest fine-dining or the neighborhood restaurant, I have never found any restaurant providing with the typical daily meals.

I have visited Bengali restaurants in Bangalore from Oh! Calcutta, St. Mark’s Road to Bangaliana, Koramangala just in search of that typical rui mahcer jhol (rohu curry) with lots of vegetables. But, never did I find it. So, here am back to my kitchen trying to reproduce mom’s style fish curry. Click on this link for more such authentic Bengali recipe.

sServes 4
Preparation time 10min
Cooking time 12-15 min


  • 4 fillets of rohu or catla (fresh water fishes)
  • 1 six-inch ridge gourd
  • 1 medium potato
  • 4-5 florets of cauliflower
  • 2-3 pointed gourd
  • 1 teaspoon nigella/kalonji
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Few sprigs of coriander leaves (optional)


  • Cut all the vegetables longitudinally, wash, mix with little turmeric powder and salt
  • Heat about 2 tablespoon of oil in a wok and toss the vegetables till lightly fried, keep aside
  • Wash the fish fillets well, and mix them with turmeric and salt. Drain out the extra water
  • Pour in another 2 tablespoon of oil in the wok and as the oil get piping hot fry the fish fillets till the fish is soft and tender
  • Add all the spices except nigella in a bowl and mix with water to make a smooth mixture
  • Take in 1 tablespoon of fresh mustard oil in the wok, throw in the nigella and bay leaves
  • As the spices start sputtering pour in the spice mixture and little water
  • Stir well till the oil separates
  • Add the vegetables and mix with the spices
  • Toss for a little while (1-2 mins) and pour in about 2 cups of water
  • As the vegetables get almost cooked add the fried fishes and  cook till the gravy sips inside the fish
  • Serve garnished with coriander with warm white rice

Hot Tips – You can use bhetki instead of rohu or catla for the same preparation. The shape of vegetables has a good percentage in deciding the taste and texture of this fish curry. So, while chopping the veggies keep in mind to slice them to almost same sizes.

I have used four different vegetables in this rohu curry, if you don’t get all of these you can just use a combination of any of the four.

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Poila Baisakh Special – Tel Koi

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Paila Baisakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year is just a week to go. Its definitely a big day for all Bongs all over the world. It’s a day to celebrate the joy of being a Bengali – food, new clothes and of course Rabindra Sangeet. The way of celebrating may have changed over time, but you just can’t find a Bengali who doesn’t want to celebrate this day. The Chaitra sale in Gariahat market is just something indispensable. If you are in Kolkata at this time of the year, you should definitely make it a point to visit Gariahat – from big shops to the street vendors, everybody has the “SALE” tag hanging.  The essence of Poila baisakh is being a Bengali in heart. You may celebrate it in a club with friends over a peg of JohnnyWalker, but your heart still beats to the rhythm of “esho hain Baisakh esho esho”.

We at Cook Like a Bong wanted to share our joy with you all, and so we have planned to share one recipe everyday till Paila Baisakh. Starting from today, the menu starts with the Bong favourite – fish. Tel koi is an authentic Bengali recipe, and a must have with warm rice for lunch.


  • 8 koi fish
  • 2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon clarifies butter
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Grind 1 ½ tablespoon cumin seeds, and mix with the chilli and turmeric powder
  • Strain with a chakni, and mix with water
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the extra cumin seeds
  • Put in the koi fish and the spice mixture
  • Pour in water and cook covered till the fish is soft
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and ghee
  • Serve hot with rice

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Ilish Paturi in Microwave

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Yes, we bled blue. After 28 years of wait, at last the world cup came back once again to India. The excitement and thrill was at its peak. Just as Dhoni played the shot the last 6, the dream for Sri Lanka was over. The entire country rejoiced. Just before the match, the roads seemed to be deserted like in during strikes, but the scene changed just after that last shot. It seemed the entire city has come out – age no bar – every body was on the road sharing their bit of joy. Here’s one click from the roads, for more click on to Chak De India album.

To share this joy here’s a simple recipe from us – ilish paturi in microwave. Paturi literally means cooking something wrapped in fresh leaves, generally plantain. The mkicrowave recipe is a simple and quick one without any hassle. Click for more hilsa recipe.

Serves 8
Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 8 mins


  • 8 pieces of ilish/hilsa
  • 8 pieces of 6” square plantain leaves
  • ½ cup mustard seed paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 8 green chillies
  • 4 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Kitchen thread for wrapping


  • Clean the fish, mix all the spices; season with salt
  • Pour the oil generously over the fish
  • Wrap each piece with plantain leaf and tie with the kitchen thread
  • Place the pieces on a microwave safe plate
  • Micro high (100% /  800 watts) for 6-8min
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips – Before wrapping, roast the leaves for a minute to make them soft and easier to fold. The fresh leaves tend to break along the veins. While wrapping make sure that no part of the fish is outside the leaf, which will make it very dry.

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Guest Post – Doi Ilish

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We at Cook Like a Bong love to see that our readers are so eager to share our recipes and so every month you try to include a couple of guest posts to our blog. This guest post is shared by a very nice Bengali couple – Anindita and Shantanu.

Asked to describe their passion for food, they said – “Both of us love to eat and also share the passion of cooking. We spent some good quality time in the kitchen, experimenting and trying many different recipes. Our blog name ‘Bhalo Khabo’ says it all ‘Let’s cook something good to eat‘.


  • Ilish or Hilsa
  • ½  cup Yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp Mustard Paste
  • ½  tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Mustard Oil  (Preferred, otherwise any other oil would even do)
  • ½  tsp Kalo Jeera (Kalonji Seeds)
  • 3-4 Green Chillies
  • Chopped Cilantro


  • Clean the hilsa pieces and pat dry them. Season them with salt and turmeric powder.
  • Now heat Mustard Oil in a wok, and slowly put the fish pieces one by one and fry them lightly
  • In a bowl mix the yogurt and the mustard paste, add the turmeric powder. Remove the fish pieces after they are fried and keep the oil aside. (We Bengali’s love this oil with plain rice.)
  • Add some fresh oil to the wok and temper with the Kalo Jeera seeds and let them splutter.
  • Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt and mustard paste and  the green chillies.
  • As the oil starts separating, add the fish, salt and a cup of water, cover and cook for sometime. Serve with hot Basmati Rice.
  • Garnish with a few drops of fresh mustard oil and chopped cilantro and enjoy the Bengali Delicacy.

Further Reading – Ilish Bhapa

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Chingri Bhapa in Microwave

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The availability of a particular food builds up its niche in the local cuisine. So, has been the case with shrimps and prawns in Eastern Indian cuisine, especially in Bengali recipes. There are many rivers flowing through Bengal and that makes the fresh catch so popular in all Bengali cookings. Be it the simple rohu curry or the much coveted steamed Hilsa, it seems we Bengalis cannot complete a meal without fish. And, if that fish spells shrimps there can’t be a happier fellow.

While cooking fish seems to be a rather difficult task for those who are new to the kitchen techniques, the veteran ladies find it comforting to get hold of a simple fish curry, which will tickle the senses when served. This shrimp recipe in microwave is definitely for all (read the newcomers and pros in kitchen). While the chingri bhapa or steamed shrimp takes much longer to cook on your stoves it’s just a matter of six to eight minutes in the microwave. I assure you, anybody can cook this one.


  • 250gms deshelled and deveined shrimps
  • 6 tablespoon of mustard seeds paste
  • ½ cup fresh and thick coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 /5 green chili, slit from middle
  • 4 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Clean the shrimps thoroughly and put in a microwave safe bowl with alid
  • Put in all the ingredients and  mix well
  • Place the bowl in a microwave oven and cook covered on microwave high (100%) for 6 -8 min or till the shrimps turn a little hard
  • Serve hot with warm white rice

Hot Tips – Instead of putting the shrimps in a bowl you can also use a pulpy green coconut, put everything inside and cook on microwave medium for 8 – 10mins.

If you are health conscious then you can just cut down the amount of oil and also take out the husk from the mustard seeds paste.

This microwave preparation goes to MEC: Gravies and Curries hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons. And also to Anyone Can Cook hosted at Taste of Pearl City.

5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices

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Pui Dana Diye Chingri

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Bengal had always been the land of invasions. Dutch, Portuguese, Muslims and the British – everybody had ruled over this state at one point of time or the other. These invasions had a great impact in the social and economic arena of the state. The culinary field was not left behind. The indigenous Bengali cuisine had been influenced by these invaders. In spite of these influences there are some recipes which can always be called as authentic Bengali recipe. One such is the pui-er dana diye chingri maach (Malabar spinach seeds with shrimps).

This recipe is a typical Bangal style recipe and is cooked with a concoction of few spices to retain the green and fresh smell of the seeds. I have used fresh shrimps to prepare this recipe, but you can also use chingri shutki (dried shrimps) too. While using the dried shrimps, fry it similarly as when using the fresh shrimps.


  • 1 cup Malabar spinach (Pui) seeds
  • ½ cup small shrimps
  • ½ cup thinly sliced potatoes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced pumpkin
  • 1 medium sized onion, julienne
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


  • De-vein and clean the shrimps
  • Heat 1 ½ tablespoon of mustard oil in a wok, as it turns piping hot, add the shrimps and stir fry till they turn a little hard, keep aside
  • Pour in the extra oil and sauté onions, add the garlic paste
  • Drop in the potatoes and pumpkin as the onions turn translucent, cook for sometime
  • Season with the spices and salt
  • Add the pui seeds and cook till they soften
  • Add the shrimps and cook for 2-3 minutes more
  • Take out of flame and serve hot with warm white rice

Hot Tips – It is very essential to clean the shrimps properly. While frying the shrimps, just don’t let the shrimps turn too hard, else the shrimps will turn chewy.

Further Reading – Chanchra, Lutiya Shutki

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