Bengali Fish

My favorite version of several recipes combined. Still working on it.

Spice mix:

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods


  • Around 2 pounds mahimahi, tilapia, swai, or other whitefish
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric – or mix of ground for color and a couple tablespoons of fresh grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil, or vegetable oil as backup


  • 1/4 teaspoon Nigelia seeds, aka Kalonji. Can substitute mustard seeds – crush them a bit.
  • 5 fresh Thai chilis chopped fine, and some whole for the adventurous
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (optional – makes it creamier)


Cut the fish into chunks. Rub it with the turmeric and salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

If using non-ground spices, combine spice mix ingredients in a mortar, spice grinder, or coffee grinder and process until finely ground.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. If you are using mustard oil, let it get smokingly hot. Now put in the fish pieces and brown lightly on all sides without cooking them through.

Gently lift the fish out of the oil and put it on a plate.

Remove most of the oil from the frying pan and heat over medium-high.

When hot, put in the nigelia/mustard seeds and the onoin. Cook until brown/translucent.

Then put in the chillies, bay-leaf, and spice mix and cook for a minute.

Put in the fish and the water.

Simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes, mixing the fish with the sauce. Turn the heat to low and cook the fish for about 5 more minutes or until it is just done. If you want a more creamy dish, stir in the yogurt. I do.

Serve with rice or potatoes.


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