Bengali Mustard Fish Curry

On a trip to Bangalore, India a few years back, we met a wonderful Bengali chef named Manik Malik. He shared his very popular Bengali Fish Curry recipe with us. Fish lovers will rejoice at this delicious curry recipe made with simple ingredients and a simple process.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4


Fish (firm variety) – 1/2 lb (approx 500 g) – cleaned
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp

Mustard Oil – 3 Tbsp
Onion – 1/2 large
Tomato – 1/2 large
Garlic – 7 to 8 large cloves
Green Chilies – to taste
Mustard Seeds – 1 Tbsp
Cumin Powder – 1/4 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1/4 tsp or to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Hot Water – 1 1/2 cups
Cilantro (Coriander Leaves) – for garnishing


1. Marinate Fish for 10 minutes with 1/4 tsp of Turmeric Powder and 1/4 tsp Salt.
2. In a grinder or blender, form a paste of Onion, Tomato, Garlic, Green Chilies and Mustard Seeds.
3. Heat Mustard Oil in a pan and fry the fish for 1 minute on each side. Remove onto a paper towel lined plate and keep aside.
4. In the same oil, add ground paste, Cumin Powder, Red Chili Powder, Turmeric Powder and Salt. Mix well, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Once mixture stops splattering, uncover and continue to cook until the oil separates from the mixture.
6. Add Fish back in and coat it with the mixture.
7. Add hot Water and gently stir.
8. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.
9. Garnish with Cilantro and serve hot with Rice or Chapati.

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89 thoughts on “Bengali Mustard Fish Curry

  1. I made this recipe, and it came out kind of bitter. Is it supposed to be this way, or did I do something wrong? Maybe I added too many mustard seeds?

  2. Hi, This recipe is awesome ..I am not into regular married recently…My In-Laws are impressed now..Thanks a ton..

  3. Hi Ladies,

    Iam going to try this dish out but before that I have a question. Are mustard seeds same as Rye?
    Otherwise I might have to buy specifically mustard seeds.

    Thank you,

  4. Love your recipes and have tried so many!!!!!!!!
    Which fish is closer to rohu fish flavor and fillet one? Could not find rohu anywhere.
    Thank you.

  5. Hi Anuja and Hetal…I love the recipes you post…and I loved the grinder you used…can you please tell me which grinder is this exactly. And if you can tell me which food processor is best for a small family of four (any suggestions of good indian or australian brands if possible please).

    1. Hi Harjeet,

      We got our grinder from India. It is a Sumeet brand mixie. For food processors, we would suggest you buy the most powerful motor that you can afford. There are so many out there that even we don’t have the answer to which one is the best.

      1. Hi Hetal,
        Thank you so much for your suggestion. So, I would be getting Sumeet brand from India for sure on my next trip to India and would be hunting for a good food processor until I get one.
        Have a great day ahead..
        And I love your website and wish you both a very good luck for future..:)

        1. Hi Harjeet,

          You can even order one online here in the US. If you get it from India, be sure to get the right voltage (110V).

  6. Ladies – I’m planning on making either this or your doi maach for an upcoming event. Do you have any tips for scaling the rohu pieces we get from the Indian store? The bought of scaling fish for 30 people is not at all appealing! Thanks!

      1. Hetal – thanks for the quantity (which I also needed), but I was actually asking about removing the scales! Any tips?

  7. regarding bitterness:

    mustard seeds can also become bitter if they get too hot during grinding – so esp. if the recipe was doubled, maybe the grinder developed too much heat.
    I realize the question was posted a while back, but maybe s.b. else may find it helpful…

  8. I love your website and dishes as well, and i keep watching your postings. Love you guys for helping and making our days better, God Bless you! 🙂

  9. I used slightly less mustard than recommended and followed the recipe faithfully. Used red onion that I normally use. Also, I ‘bhuno-ed’ the spices pretty thoroughly.

    Unfortunately the dish did taste bitter. Don’t know why this happened

    When I use the same mustard (after powdering it) in your kanji recipe it doesn’t taste bitter at all. I love the kanji recipe and make it often.

    1. Hi Vera,

      We have had things turn bitter on us when we grind onions. We haven’t quite figured out why it happens some times and not other times.

  10. HI,
    I am new to Indian cooking although I’m considered a gourmet chef in other cooking cultures. I have really appreciated your easily followed videos.
    I have made this wonderful Bengali mustard fish recipe 2 or three times and it have been perfect. This time I was having eight for dinner so I doubled the recipe. The sauce was very ,very bitter. I was able to correct it, but the taste was not as great. What did I do wrong? Do you think 2 Tbs. of mustard seed was too much? Could it have been doubling the mustard oil?
    I would really appreciate an answer as I often have more than four people for dinner.
    Thank you.
    Love & Light,

    1. Hi Jan,

      Doubling the ingredients should not make the taste bitter. Sometimes, grinding raw onions causes some bitterness to be released from the cell walls. This happens only on occasion :(.

  11. Hi Anuja and Hetal,

    Awesome recipe!! its really mouthwatering. Where can I get rohu fish in us? Sometime tilapia or mahi-mahi doesn’t give authentic fish taste.

    1. Hi Nidhi,

      We were able to find frozen Rohu at our local Indian grocery store. Some of the larger stores may carry a fresher stock.

  12. Dear Anuja & Hetal,

    Thanks for sharing, love your site and recipes. I would love to try this one as I wanna add fish to my diet. Just a little doubt, do we need to smoke the mustard oil before starting the cooking process?


  13. Hi Anuja and Hetal
    Is there a way to make this without a spice grinder? Would a regular food processor break down the mustard seeds?

    1. Hi Claire,
      Unfortunately, a food processor will not work – you will need a spice blender or a blender. The food processor will not grind it fine.

  14. Hello Anonymous, reply to 5th March @6.16 posting.
    I did alter the actual recipe, I felt liquidising the onions ,toms & mustard seeds together was more like a resturant meal, hence I made a paste of chilli, mustard seeds, tumeric & used it instead..the result as one can expect..fabulous. Try & you will appreciate the dish alot more & who knows it could be the dish ofthe day for you !!!
    Good luck !

  15. Veg, do you wear leather shoes or carry a leather bag..if you are a bloke..not carry a leather bag of cause !! but what shoes do you wear!!
    I understand your point darrrling but let people choose what they like

    1. Hi Veg,
      We understand that every recipe or dish is not for everyone. This is one of those ones – this is for Non-Vegetarians and we understand how you feel but you have to be respectful to how everyone else feels too. You can choose not to see this video but we would appreciate you being nice and respectful on the website.
      Thank you!

  16. I made this the other night and we liked it very much.

    Here’s the photographic result:

    I’d never used mustard oil before and when I opened the bottle, I was rather shocked at the intense smell of… horseradish! (Did I have the right mustard oil?) Now I don’t care for horseradish, but I thought I’d give the dish a go anyway because I’ve never tried an Indian fish recipe. The video was helpful to this relative newbie to Indian cooking, especially what it means for oil to separate from a mixture. It turned out to be a very easy task and we enjoyed the result!

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Nice recipe . will definetly try .
    small correction in the recipe instructions- 1/2 Lb = 225 gms and not 500 gms .

  18. Hey H and A:
    Good recipe! Just a note though, this recipe seems more like restaurant cooking. Almost all home cooks I know make Sorshe Maach or Fish with mustard without onions. They also tend to use a lot more mustard seeds, a bit of poppy seeds and soak the mixture before mixing to take off some of the bitterness that comes from the mustard seed shells. I realize most ppl trying this recipe for the first time won’t notice the bitterness difference, but it’s something to keep in mind if it bothers anyone. I did actually like your using onions, it bulks up the sauce without overdoing the mustard.

  19. The fish with the mustard oil was very nice &but one can always alter with alittle bit of imagination & go.
    Always as ever grateful A Very Well Wisher.

  20. This looks yummy! What would you suggest for a vegetarian alternative? Also, in the absence of an Indian mixie, will a normal food processor break down the mustard seeds, or do you suggest we grind them separately in a spice grinder before adding them to the rest of the masala?

  21. Being in remote part of Ottawa getting fish is of no problem, but finding the different spices is next to impossible, guess whatI got all the spices on line & sent to me.I enjoyed your recipe & hope for many many more. Thank you.

  22. I tried this dish for my American husband, Steve loved it very much & we both thank you for the lovely site. Keep up the good work.

  23. I have never seen fish cooked so differently, I tried it & it was beyond my expectation, but i must admit I did altere a few things to my taste, but over all result was very good. Thank you sooooooooooooooooo MAACH ( Fish in Bengali!!!)

    1. Curious to know what you altered as the dish didn’t taste as I expected…..even though I love maacher jhal with mustard…..

  24. Hi Hetal and Anuja..

    can u plz show me How to make tortillas.. and how to store them for long time.. plz.. this will b very very helpful to me..

  25. Hi guys,

    A lot of Indian recipes I know call for mustard oil, but every bottle of it I’ve ever seen, regardless of the brand, carries the sobering warning ‘For external use only’. Can this be ignored? Or have I simply been looking at the wrong kind of mustard oil?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Steve,
      You you look at our Doi Maach Recipe, we have spoken about that issue. Bottom line is that it is OK to use – they label it such due to the additional taxes the exporters would have to pay – silly reason but that is what we have heard but it is OK for consumption even though it says “for external use only”.

  26. Going to try this recipe, I think it will be very nice with rice.Do you think one can get this fish in San Diego CA.
    Good day& many many thanks.

  27. I have subscribed to to your posts and I have always visited you, tho never left a comment 🙂 u guys are doing a great work and yes we are on the same mission 😀

  28. Hey,

    Good one! We also add lemon juice while marinating the fish. Also, wanted to ask if you could please list some of the firm variety of fish available in US. I am not familiar with fishes in US, so if you could please help.


    1. Hi Mamta,

      Good tip! We will try it out next time.

      Here are a few names:
      Red Snapper, Halibut, Cod, Haddock, Swordfish.
      I personally, love to use Mahi Mahi – it works well in curries.

  29. Wow !!
    Looking really good. I think I have to make this dish to my mom on her birthday, because she LOVES fish !

    Thank you soo much for this recipe 🙂

  30. This is such a delicious recipe, but you should add some split green chilies at the end before you finish cooking. This will add a wonderful flavor to the dish. Other than that very nice recipe. Thanks.

  31. I see it! my mistake. The mustard seeds are made in to a paste. I had misread it as it being tempered. The way we prepare Shorshe Maach is only with chili, mustard paste turmeric etc.. no onion, tomato, garlic paste in it. The recipe that uses onion, ginger tomato is usually called Maacher Jhal. This is kind of a combo of both.

  32. I am from Bengal, and I have to say that I have never seen mustard used to temper a Bengali Fish curry. sounds good otherwise and a big YES to the mustard oil.

  33. hi,

    what is meant by ‘marinate fish’?

    does this mean mixing fish with salt and turmeric powder and leave it as it is for 10 mins?

    1. Hi Pooja,
      Marinate means soaking or coating in a sauce or spices to give it flavor before cooking. The marinating time can vary from 10 minutes to overnight or more.
      So when you put salt and haldi on the fish and set it aside for 10 min. , the process is called marinating.
      Hope that helps.

    1. Hi Salima,
      The Mustard Oil give the dish that authentic stamp and flavor but you can use your regular cooking oil. The dish will still taste great. Enjoy!

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