Bata Mach Sarse Diye- Fish in Rich Mustard Gravy

Fan us on Facebook . You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email

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.

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

 If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader


Follow me on Twitter. Add me as a friend on Facebook . Visit my Flickr photostream.

Bengali cuisine has evolved since its birth. There were many invasions from foreigners like the Muslims, the British. Different styles and recipes got incorporated into the Bengali culinary chart. But, there are still some that have not evolved much and Chanchra (or Chancharika, that’s what the other name for this dish is as mentioned in “Bangalir Khawadawa” by Shankar) being listed at the top of this list. I can tell this because I have seen my grand mother cook the same way my mom or even I cook the dish. My granny used to say that she learnt this recipe from her mother, so you see there has been almost four generations where chanchra has remained what it was, and I don’t think it’s going to change any soon.


So, what is chanchra? When I thought of writing about this recipe, I was thinking how to spell it in English. Anyways I decided on this spelling. Chanchra (or may be Chenchra). This authentic Bengali recipe can be very lucidly described as a curry made of one or different types of herbs put together along with vegetables (mainly potatoes and pumpkin) and fish head. I am not sure how this curry came into existence, but it was most probably due to the habit of Bengalis not to leave out any part of anything that is edible. Mostly people don’t prefer to have a full fish head during meal, so the fish head is fried and broken into smaller pieces and mixed with other vegetables to prepare succulent and yummy preparation to serve mainly during lunch time. This typical Bengali recipe is  an all time favorite among Bengalis and those individuals who like having Bengali food.

Chanchra is an inevitable side dish for any feast. If you visit a marriage ceremony at lunch (Bengali marriages are held at evening, the day time is only for people close to the family), you just can’t get away without tasting this recipe. Chanchra with warm rice is a delicacy. It is prepared mainly with climbing spinach or pui saag in Bengali, along with potatoes, aubergine and pumpkin to increase the volume of the prepared item. There is a vegetarian version of this which though not widely cooked but exists. Different types of lentils are used along with the vegetables and herb (the detailed recipe will post later). The use of the climbing spinach (also called Malabar spinach or Malabar nightshade) and the fish head gives the distinct smell and taste of this particular dish. Though this dish is a little tricky to prepare, and doesn’t look much appealing too, but the taste of it is what counts.

Other names of this herb is Pui shakh or Puin shaak in Bengali, Poi saag in Hindi, Pasalai keerai in Tamil, Bachhala kura in Telugu, Balasale soppu in Kannada.

Preparation time: 20mins

Cooking time: 30mins

Serves: 4


  • Malabar spinach (Pui shakh): 2 feet long stem with leaves
  • Pumpkin (Kumro): 100gms, cut into medium size dices
  • Potato (Alu): 2, cut into medium size dices
  • Fish head (Macher Matha): 1
  • Panch Phoron: 1 teaspoon
  • Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size, cut thinly
  • Garlic paste (Rasun bata): 1 teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera): 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard Oil (Sarser tel): 6 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste


  • Chop off the leaves from the Malabar spinach stem, chop the leaves into halves, and cut the stems into 2 inch long sizes and slit longitudinally
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok and fry the fish head, smash it into pieces, keep aside
  • Heat the rest of the oil and pour in the panch phoron and onions, sauté till the onions become light brown.
  • Add the vegetables and garlic paste, chili powder and cumin, toss for 5 mins
  • Add half-cup of water and cook until the vegetables are half cooked
  • Put in the leaves and stems of the Malabar spinach and cook till the leaves are soft
  • Add the fried fish head and cook for 5 more mins, and take out of flame

Chechra (1)

Hot Tips – Keep the leaves and stems under running water for sometimes, to get rid of any dust particles and fertilizers sprayed to the plants.

Further Readings – Malabar Spinach, Pui with poppy

Sending this recipe to Indrani of Appyayan for hosting the first event on her blog, Spotlight: Fish. Along with this I am also sending Bhapa Chingri and Macher Dimer Vada to the same event.


Also sending this recipe to A Food Lover’s Journey hosting this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, originally created by Kalyn and it is now in the care of Haalo.


If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too. You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader

Chingrir Malaikari

As promised here I am with my “Chingrir malaikari” recipe to mark the 2000+ hits of my blog. Prawns are always a delicacy in all Bengali household and even those who loves fish but are afraid of those bones. I would share one very interesting fact about prawns, though we call it Chingri mach(fish) in Bengali , but actually it is not a fish. According to the characteristics of prawns scientists have grouped it as an arthropode,i.e, it is an insect. You can also use shrimps for this preparation.


Prawns (Chingri): 1kg, deshelled

Coconut milk(Narkeler dudh): 1 1/2 cup

Whole garam masala: 1tablespoon

Ghee: 2 tablespoons

Curd (Doi): 1/2 cup

Garlic-ginger paste (Aada-rasun bata): 1teaspoon

Turmeric powder(Halud guro): 2 pinches

Chilli powder (Sukhno lankar guro): 1/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste


Just a few words before we start with the cooking procedure. Prawns are very delicate, so beware when you are deshelling them. Keep the head of the prawn intact, but wash it carefully. Marinade the prawns after washing with curd and garlic ginger paste for at least an hour.

Whole garam masala consists of green cardamon: 3 /4, cloves: 5, cinnamon: 1” piece


  • Heat the ghee in an wok and add the whole garam masala, sauté for just a minute.
  • Add the marinated prawns to the wok.
  • Sauté the prawns for just a few minutes so that it becomes a bit stiff.
  • Add the coconut milk, chilli powder,ginger-garlic paste, salt and turmeric powder.
  • Cook till the gravy thickens.

Serve with rice and enjoy the delicious but easy to cook chingrir malaikari. Keep looking for more recipes here. Till then happy cooking and happy eating.

Sending this to Sunita’s Think Spice event of the month.

Sending it to SWC-West Bengal hosted by Lakshmi of Cooking Station.

If you like this post and want more such recipes served to your inbox, then Subscribe to Here I Cook by Email

Subscribe in a reader

Patla Macher Jhol

The monsoon here, and the humidity rising. All those days when it doesn’t rain in those tropical areas, I presume it is absolutely painful to live. More so when it comes to have food. Living in the heart of Kolkata for a long, long time, I understand the feelings of those people now in the mid of June. In those humid weathers you don’t even feel like eating anything spicy and for those the ladies in the kitchen its painstaking to stand and cook for hours together.

So, here I am with a little recipe of my own to beat the heat in the kitchen as well as at the dining table. You can prepare this with any kind of fish that is fresh and is not stinking much. You can get the taste of it with any fleshy fish, better if it is fresh water fishes.

When I was young and used to go to school I would call this fish preparation as “Kara kari jhol”(Bengali for snatch it curry), because my mom used to cook it so well that it felt like the best thing in the world, and still it remains one of my favorite dishes.


Fish (any fresh water fleshy fish): 200gms

Black cumin (Kalo Jeera): 1 teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon

Turmeric powder (Halud Guro): 1 teaspoon

Green chilli (Kacha Lanka): 2 / 3 pieces

Salt to taste



  • De-scale and wash the fishes well, add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of salt to the fish and mix them well.
  • Heat oil in a wok and fry the fishes. Don’t over fry, Take them out of the flame just after little frying.
  • Add black cumin to the oil in which you have fried the fishes. Add turmeric powder, green chilli, salt and 2 cups of water.
  • Let it boil for 2 minutes, add the fried fishes and cook for some more time, till the water takes up the yellowish color.
  • Serve with rice and enjoy this non-spicy fish preparation in the humid weather of this summer.


Those of you who still don’t care about that extra fat on your tummy can add two or three pieces of potato to the preparation also.

Cut the potato like those of French fries. Fry it and keep separately. Add the potato soon after you add water to the wok. When the potatoes are almost cooked add the fried fishes to it.

Doi Rui – Rohu in Yogurt

Serves 6

After a chicken dish and then a veggie delight here I am to tell you about the Bengal’s favorite platter – a fish curry. Fish had always been my favorite, though here in Bangalore you can’t find such good and fresh variety of fish, so I miss that “fish market” back in Kolkata, those shouts and the fishy smell. O lets not talk about that, it makes me home sick. So, Doi Rui is my mom’s special dish. She is a superb cook, and her specialty is this Doi Rui.

Ingredients for Doi Rui

  • Rohu ( rui maach) : 1kg , cut into medium sized pieces, de-shelled and cleaned
  • Curd (doi): 200 gm
  • Green Chilli (kacha lanka): 3/4
  • Turmeric powder (haluder guro): 1 ½ tsp
  • Ginger paste ( aada baata): 1tbsp
  • Chilli powder (sukhno lankar guro): 1 ½ tsp
  • Onions (peyaj): 2
  • Salt to taste

Preparation steps for Doi Rui

  • Mix curd, onion juice of 1onion, ½ tsp ginger, ½ tsp of turmeric and ½ chilli powder in a bowl, add the fish pieces to them and marinate for 15mins.
  • Heat mustard oil in a pan. Add the left out onions when the oil becomes hot. Sauté till the onions become golden brown. Add 1 tsp of ginger paste and fry little.
  • Add the marinated fish to the pan add salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, 3 green chillis and let it cook for sometime. Take care that the pieces do not break, so don’t disturb it much, let it just cook. Use a lid for fast cooking.
  • Check after 5/7 mins whether the fish has become tender, if not then add little bit of water to it.
  • A great smell from the kitchen tells you that your Doi Rui is done.

Serve it with hot rice and enjoy that feeling of being at home, anywhere in this world .Happy cooking and happy eating.

Ready to serve Doi Rui

Ready to serve Doi Rui

Hot Tip

If you are really interested in having that Mom cooked taste then add just fry some potato pieces cut in like the French fry style and add them to the curry.

Alternate way

If you are in real hurry and don’t have time to marinate the fish, then no problem at all. First fry the pieces and keep aside. Fry the onions and ginger paste as mentioned before. Add curd, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt, ¾ green chilli and little bit of water. Allow it to boil for 3 mins and then add the fried fish pieces. Cook for 7 mins more and your doi rui is ready to serve.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin