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Macher Jhol

This delicious Indian dish, fish in a Bengali-style sauce, can also be made with salmon steaks.


  • For the marinade

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • ½  teaspoon turmeric

  • ¼  teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • ½  teaspoon Kashmiri or other mild red chilli powder

  • For the fish

  • 450g (1lb) cod loin, cut into 4 centimetre (1 ½  inch) chunks

  • 6 tablespoons mustard oil

  • 12 cauliflower florets

  • ½  teaspoon nigella seeds

  • 3 hot green chillies, sliced

  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic

  • 2 teaspoons peeled, finely grated root ginger

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons grain mustard

  • 1 ½  teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 ½  teaspoons turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri or other mild red chilli powder

  • 4–5 tablespoons tomato passata 

  • 3 fish stock cubes

  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves


  • 1.

    Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Coat the cod chunks in the marinade and leave for five minutes.

  • 2.

    Set a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of the mustard oil. Allow it to smoke.

  • 3.

    Carefully fry the fish all over for one or two minutes, just allowing the chunks to firm up. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Place the cauliflower in the same oil. Stir and fry for two minutes, until brown all over. Remove and place in a bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to sweat.

  • 4.

    Put a karhai, wok or large pan, 25 centimetres (10 inches) in diameter, over a medium heat. Pour in the remaining mustard oil. When it’s hot, add the nigella seeds, chillies, garlic and ginger. Stir for two minutes, until lightly brown.

  • 5.

    Increase the heat to high and add the onions. Fry for two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add 120ml (4fl oz) of water. Mix well and cover. Cook the onions for 10–12 minutes until soft and brown, stirring occasionally.

  • 6.

    Add the mustard and stir in the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir uncovered for one minute, then add the tomato passata. Combine thoroughly.

  • 7.

    Now pour in 250ml (9fl oz) of water. Dissolve the fish stock in the sauce and cook on a high heat for two minutes, until the oil rises to the surface. Return the cauliflower, fold it into the sauce and reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes at a gentle simmer.

  • 8.

    Return the fish to the pan and carefully cook through for two to three minutes.

  • 9.

    Check for seasoning, then garnish with the coriander and serve.

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