Macher Matha Diye Mung Dal – Yellow Lentil with Fish Head

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Since I came to US, I had been travelling. All thanks to Kalyan and his job, I had visited 5 states in a span of 3 months. The latest was a visit to the city of dreams – New York City. It was a 8 day trip with work for K and travel for me, and I made the best use of the time. Travelled almost every part of the city from Harlem in upsate New York to the Liberty Island down South. Tasted the roadside pretzel (which I hated, sorry to say), chicken gyro, hot dogs and also the different cuisines in the much talked about restaurants of Manhattan.

Even though everything seemed so awesome and the food tasted so great, something was missing. I figured it out this afternoon after coming back home. The missing part was home cooked food – warm rice with moog dal and begun bhaja (aubergine fries) and tilapia jhal. Whether its psychological or just that your taste buds are used to the food you have grown up with, nothing beats home cooked food.

Yellow lentil or moog dal is one of the many dals cooked in every Bengali household. To start with moong dal can be cooked either directly boiled and sautéed with your spice of choice or roasted, boiled and then sautéed with spices. The roasted version definitely tastes better, but those with digestion problem should leave that apart. You can cook mung dal using just cumin seeds, cumin powder and ginger paste or make it rich and spicy putting in some fried fish heads.

Macher Matha Diye Moog Dal

Indian, Side, Moog dal, Yellow lentil, Bengali fish recipe, Bengali dal
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • 1 cup moog dal
  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 fish head, deep fried
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pour the unwashed lentils in a thick bottom sauce pan and roast till the lentil turns a light shade of brown. Take out of the flame and wash. Pour in the warm water and salt; boil till the dal is cooked. Add extra water if the dal tends to dry out.
  • Add the deep fried fish head to the dal
  • Heat a skillet, pour in the oil. Temper with whole cumin seeds. As the seeds starts sputtering add to the boiled dal. Add in the spices, ginger paste and cook for 5-7mins more
  • Serve with warm white rice and fries of choice.

Hot Tips – Roasting the dal is optional, you can directly wash the dal and boil it. Moog dal tends to absorb a lot of water, so make sure there is enough water even after the dal is fully cooked.

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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.

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