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Macher Jhol Bengali Influenced Fish Curry

Macher jhol is a Bengali fish curry, my version features meaty white fish like cod or pollock in a thick tomato gravy that is lightly spiced.

Taking 10 minutes to prepare and around 20 minutes to cook this is also a super quick dinner recipe that is very easy to cook with a relatively modest ingredient list for a curry.

Close up macher jhol or Bengali fish curry served with aloo methi.

Bengali Inspired Fish Curry

As with many of my recipes, inspiration comes from far and wide and this delicious and simple macher jhol fish stew come curry recipe is no different.

The name itself translates as “fish gravy” or “fish soup”. In Bengali it is written like this মাছের ঝোল, and it speaks to a whole spectrum of dishes.

They are typified by a relatively simplified set of spices for a dish from this part of the world. Many times they feature tomato paste and potatoes to thicken the dish.

The sauce is traditionally more likely to be a similar texture to the one in my sea bass curry and fresh mackerel curry.

I stick with the relatively simple set of spices here but increase the tomatoes to make a thick sauce.

Essentially this is cod in tomato sauce, a classic European dish, that has decided to get a wonderful makeover in Bangladesh.

Fish curries like this my monkfish curry, Indian salmon curry or my Kerelan inspired fish curry are a great introduction to cooking from the Indian Sub Continent.

If you want a slightly different vibe check out my Thai Green fish curry with cod, Thai mackerel choo chee curry or Thai red fish curry with salmon. If you have any cod leftover what about rustling up these Amritsari fish nuggets?

Overhead macher jhol or Bengali fish curry served with aloo methi.

Frequently Asked Questions

What fish is best to use?

I have developed this recipe with cod, hake, haddock, coley or pollock in mind. You can use any of these fish and the dish will be very similar and will work perfectly.

I would personally give a shout-out to coley, it is half the price of cod and tastes superb. I use it in my masala fish fillet recipe.

Often this dish would be made with a fish similar to a carp, but freshwater fish really is not my mojo!

What is the “loin” of fish?

The loin is the upper half of the fillet of a round fish. It is thicker and as a result, holds up really well to slightly longer cooking.

You can of course use a fillet of fish and keep an eye on the cooking time.

How spicy is this fish curry?

I consider this dish to be relatively mild. However, as I have mentioned time and time again, tolerance to spice is incredibly personal.

One persons raging inferno is anothers wee tickle.

Go with using a chilli that you are comfortable with, if you want to increase or decrease the heat change the number used.

Can I use salmon?

Yes, you can, and the cooking time remains the same. However, it is certainly not a choice that I would make.

Macher jhol or Bengali fish curry with the fish cut open to show the white flesh flakes.

Serving Suggestions

My macher jhol recipe is pictured here with some fabulous aloo methi.

I love the flavour of fenugreek! I have no qualms with matching my European cross over Bengali fish curry with Punjabi influenced fenugreek potatoes.

Plus, I’m British so fish and potatoes is a thing… Fish and chips anyone?

For the same reason, I would also recommend some roast Bombay potatoes as an alternative side dish.

Of course, you could serve this with rice too and a simple pilau rice would be awesome.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to suggest a flatbread, my tandoori naan would be the perfect bread to mop up any leftover sauce!

Macher jhol or Bengali fish curry served with aloo methi and fresh coriander.

Equipment Used

I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 24cm or 10″ nonstick frying pan or skillet with a lid.
  • Grater.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Fish slice or spatula and stirring/serving spoons.
Macher jhol or Bengali fish curry served with aloo methi and fresh coriander.
Yield: 2 Servings

Macher Jhol Recipe Bengali Fish Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Macher jhol, a Bengali fish curry that literally translates to Fish Gravy,my version is modestly spiced and served in a thick tomato-based gravy that tastes fantastic!


  • 300g (10oz) Skinless Cod, Pollock or Hake Loin
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 150g (1 medium large) Onion
  • Thumb sized PIece Ginger
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 400g (14oz) Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Red Chillies
  • 12 Curry Leaves
  • ½ Tsp Ground Coriander
  • ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • ¼ Tsp Sugar


  1. Cut the cod loin into two steaks.
  2. Mash the garlic cloves.
  3. Grate the ginger.
  4. Cut the chilli peppers in half lengthways.
  5. Heat a medium (24cm or 10") nonstick frying pan over a high heat.
  6. Grate the onion on the fine side of a grater
  7. Add the oil when it is hot sear the cod loin pieces for a minute on each side.
  8. When seared remove and set aside.
  9. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and slit red chilli peppers to the frying pan.
  10. When the seeds begin to crackle add the curry leaves, garlic, and ginger and cook for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the grated onion and cook for 7-10 minutes stirring regularly until the onions go a fairly deep golden brown.
  12. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato puree and stir to combine.
  13. Sprinkle over the sugar, ground coriander, ground turmeric and salt and stir.
  14. Return the fish to the pan and coat well in the sauce, then add a lid and cook for 7-10 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 369Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 713mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 38g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Gill Thrupp

Sunday 30th of July 2023

I don't think I missed the tinned chopped tomatoes when I commented before bu if I did all I can do is apologise. As I am going to make this tomorrow Monday 31st July I thought I would check I was going to put tinned tomatoes in also I am oing to make the Aloo Methi with it

Brian Jones

Sunday 30th of July 2023

Hi Gill...

Not sure what happened there at all, I saw your comment and checked and I could see the tomatoes in my editor but for some reason not on the published recipe... so I gave everything a bit of a refresh and it popped up again. Thanks for bringing it to my attention enjoy your dinner tomorrow :)


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