Bengali fish curry step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
About this recipe
Macher jhal is an easy and popular Bengali-style fish curry. If you are familiar with Bengali cuisine, you know that Bengalis are known for their love for fish and this is one of the most common dishes prepared in a bong household. It is a lunch staple and is paired with plain steamed rice.
This fish curry is made without coconut milk or any fancy ingredients. Just a few basic ingredients and your Instant Pot is all you need to fix a delicious dinner in under 30 minutes. It is mostly prepared using Rohu fish (called rui maach in Bengali); however, I am using barramundi in this recipe.
Read on for ingredients, step-by-step instructions, cooking time, and tips to make this easy curry with perfectly cooked tender, and flaky fish.
Fish: Use fish fillets of your choice. In this recipe, I have used barramundi.
Aromatics: We need onion, ginger, and garlic.
Spices: I am using only powdered spices in my recipe - ground cumin, red chili powder, and turmeric powder. You can use panch phoron (Bengali five spice) in the initial tempering.
Other ingredients: Green chili, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Rub 1 teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt on the fish. Cover and set it aside (step 1).
Heat oil and add onion, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onions soften (steps 2,3).
Add tomatoes, chili powder, ground cumin, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, and salt (step 4).
Mix well and saute for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of water and deglaze the pot (steps 5,6).
Add the fish and mix gently. Secure the IP lid and set the Instant Pot on pressure cook mode on Low pressure for 5 minutes - see tips section below for cooking times (steps 7,8).
Open the lid and add cilantro. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Use fresh and firm fish for this recipe. Also, make sure it is scaled and gutted.
Rohu fish (rui mach) is the most common fish used for this dish; however, I am using barramundi. Other varieties like Asian carp, cod, tilapia, and halibut also work well for this dish.
Macher jhal is made using the whole fish that is cut into small-sized pieces. This includes the head and tail of the fish. You may choose to use fish fillets instead.
Rubbing the fish with turmeric and salt is an important step in making most Bengali fish dishes. It does not need any marination time. Just add turmeric and salt to the fish and keep it aside. You can start making the curry right away and use the fish.
Traditionally, mustard oil is used in this dish; however, you may replace it with olive oil or any cooking oil of your choice.
It is very important to adjust the cooking time according to the size of the fish. Check the thickness of the fish pieces - if it is 1 inch or less, pressure cook on Low for 5 minutes. If the thickness of the fish is between 1-2 inches, pressure cook on Low for 8 minutes.
I am not using any whole spices to make this dish. However, you can use panch phoron, nigella seeds, or cumin seeds in this recipe.
Also, try this easy Bengali-style shrimp coconut curry made in an Instant Pot.
Rohu fish is the most common fish used in this dish. You can use barramundi, Asian carp, cod, tilapia, or halibut.
Yes. This dish can be frozen for up to three months. Cool and place it in a freezer-safe container and store it. To reheat, transfer the curry to a saucepan along with a small amount of water, and simmer for a few minutes.
This dish is:
- very easy to make and uses minimal ingredients,
- flavorful and delicious,
- perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Bengali Fish Curry in Instant Pot (Macher Jhal)
- 2 lb barramundi fish
- 3 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion sliced
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2-3 green chili slit
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 2 teaspoon turmeric powder divided
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ½ cup water
- Clean and prep the fish. Cut them into 1-2 inch thick pieces.
- Rub 1 teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt on the fish. Cover and set it aside.
- Slice the onions. Chop the ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Slit the green chili or serrano pepper.
Making the curry
- Set the Instant Pot in saute mode and add oil.
- Add onion, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onions soften.
- Add tomatoes, chili powder, ground cumin, remaining 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and salt. Mix well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of water and deglaze the pot.
- Add the fish and green chili. Mix gently.
- Secure the IP lid and set the Instant Pot on pressure cook mode on Low pressure for 5 minutes (see notes).
- Once the Instant Pot beeps, do a quick release of the pressure.
- Open the lid and add cilantro.
- Mix gently and serve warm with steamed rice.