Macher Kalia ( Spicy Bengali Fish Curry)


During my early days in Delhi, everyone around me had a point or two about being a Bengali how much I must be relishing on my ” macher jhol and bhaat” ( fish curry and rice). In those days I took extra effort explaining that there are various kind of fish and multiple types of preparation and to name all as “Macher Jhol” is an insult.

I am essentially a self-taught cook, Along with many other, the regret of not learning cooking from Ma will remain for ever. Hence my version may have some variation form the orthodox way of cooking “kalia”.

Macher Kalia is one of the signature dishes from Bengali cuisine. It’s almost a must do dish all special occasion in a Bengali household. Since kids at home eats it I make it less spicy and rich, than the one you get outside.

We usually use Katla maach also known as India carp. It is a river fish found commonly on India and other South Asian countries. I have also tried this dish with other fishes like Mackeral and Indian salmon and the result was equally good.


Please note I am intuition based cook, I have tried to give the measurements to my best ability. It may not be 100 % accurate 

  •  4-5 pieces of fish (pieces should be little more than 1″ thick)
  • 1 tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 1 onions  (finely chopped or grinded)
  • 2 tsp ginger (freshly grated)
  • garlic (2 flakes grinded)
  • 4 green chillies (paste or chopped) (I keep it full to make the dish bit non spicy)
  • Bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)
  • A dash of sugar
  • 2 tlbs curd
  • 1 tsp turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp coriander Powder
  • 1 bay leaves
  • Garam masala (few whole cardamom, clove and cinnamon)
  • 10 cashew ( paste)
  • A pinch of nigella seed
  • Salt ( as per taste)
  • 6 tbls mustard oil or any other oil


  • Wash the fish pieces and mix them with a teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt and leave it aside for 30 minutes
  • Heat oil in a skillet and shallow fry the fish
  • Remove the fish
  • Temper the oil with garam masala, bay leave, nigella seed
  • As soon as they start sputtering add the onion
  • Add a little sugar and let it caramelised
  • Add garlic, ginger paste and chilies
  • Add tomato
  • Cook till oil separates from the spice
  • Mix the cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and with cashew paste and curd  to make a paste and add
  • Cook this masala for about 2 to 3 minutes till you see the oil seeping out of the edges
  • Now add fish and salt
  • Add water depending on the kind of gravy you want. This gravy should not be very watery
  • Cook for 5 minutes
  • Turn off heat and garnish with coriander leaves


                                “Macher Kalia” is ready to be served with hot plain rice.


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