Boal Macher Jhaal is a Spicy Bengali Fish Curry cooked with Wallago Attu from catfish family. It’s an open secret that fish is the soul food for most of the Bengali people. Bhaat Mach (fish and rice) is more like staple to us and that is same fish is cooked in different style to avoid boredom. In this Spicy Boal Macher Jhol boal fish is fried and cooked in thick onion-tomato based gravy. It’s hot and spicy with mild touch of tanginess from fresh tomato. Boal Curry is enjoyed with gorom Bhaat ar Dal (hot rice and lentil).
Boal Mach is quite a popular fish in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. This is also knwon as Wallago and Bangladeshi Cod fish. Boal has no scale and bones like any other catfish. So it’s always on hitlist of those fish lovers who has phobia with fish bones (or macher kanta). Being a large fish Boal a large chucnk of it can provide enough protein to satisfy our daily protien quota. And top of all it can supply natural Omeda3 fatty acid to keep our heart healthy.
As boal provides enough oil itself often it is cooked with hot spices and masala to make curry rich. But it needs to be fried well before cooking in masala. Many people consider deep frying the fish ensured thoroughly cooking. I use as little oil as possible when it comes to my daily food. For fish curry I take around 4-5 tbsp of oil in a small flat based frying pan and fry fish on medium-high flame to get the reddish hue on both sides. Then I transfer the same oil to a large deep bottomed pan to continue rest of the cooking. This way I can control the portion of oil without additional dose.
Watch my elaborated step by step video recipe of Boal Macher Tel Jhaal or Bengali Boal Fish Curry.
Read the entire recipe and Notes carefully before you start cooking. Do make sure all ingredients are at room temperature (unless mentioned) and weighed or measured correctly in appropriate weighing scale or measuring instruments such as cups or spoons. Remember these are not regular cups or spoons which is used in daily life.
Serving & Storage:
Serve Boal Macher Jhaal with steaming hot rice, dal and some fry on side.
Excess Boal Fish Curry can be stored in airtight container and refrigerated. It will taste good for 3-4 days if stored properly. After refrigeration curry will turn into jelly like substance, don;t worry it is normal. Ei ther bring it to room temperature or heat it to get the desired consistency.
- Boal fish: 4 pcs, large
- Onion: 1, large
- Tomato: 1, medium
- Ginger: 1"
- Garlic: 5-6 cloves
- Mustard Oil: 4 tbsp
- Whole Spices:
- Dry Red Chili: 1-2
- Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
- Ground Spices:
- Turmeric: 1 tsp
- Red Chili: 2 tsp
- Coriander: 1 tsp
- Cumin 2 tsp
- Salt: 1.5 tsp
- Sugar: 1 tsp
- Wash & clean fish carefully under running water. Take fish pieces in a large bowl and smear them with ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp salt. Drizzle ¼ tsp mustard oil on fish pieces and set aside for 15-20 mins. It will ensure less oil splutterring while frying.
- Chop onion and ginger roughly and blend with garlic to make a thick puree. Add only 2-3 tsp of water if neccessary.
- Roughly chop tomato and make puree. Do not add water at all.
- Heat rest of the mustard oil in a flat bottomed pan/wok. Add fish pieces one by one and fry until the bottom side turn golden brown. Flip fish pieces (after 2-3 mins) and do the same for other side too. Flip once again if necessary. It will take around 8-10 mins to fry all 4 large pieces of fish. My fish was extra large so it took me 15 mins to fry all of them. Remove fish from oil and save for later.
- Transfer the oil (same in which fish is fried) to a heavy bottomed pan(preferably wok). Add dried red chili and cumin seeds in hot oil and allow to splutter.
- Add onion mixture along with sugar & salt and fry for 1-2 mins or until paste becomes translucent.
- Add tomato puree with half of the red chili powder and stir for 1 min.
- Add rest of red chili powder along with other ground spices and continue stirring until moisture in masala evaporates and oil floats on top.
- Now begin the art of 'koshano' or 'bhuna'. Add little water at a time and keep stirring until oil is spotted on the side of the pan.
- Once masala mixture turn into deep red colour and oil covers the surface add 2 cups of warm water and bring it to boil.
- Add fried fish pieces one by one very carefully to the jhol/curry and allow to boil.
- Once curry starts boiling cover the pan and cooke for 10 mins on simmer.
- Remove cover and check if fish is cooked throughly. Adjust seasoning.
- Remove fish pieces very gently as cooked fish is soft and delicate.
- Adjust the amount of curry as needed. If you want less curry cook for few more mins until it reaches to your desired consistency. If you want more curry, add ½ cup of warm water and cook for 3-5 mins on high flame.
- Transfer fish pieces in serving bowls and cover it with curry. Serve with seatming hot rice. Enjoy!
EAT, LOVE & ENJOY! REPEAT!!!
You may also like these Traditional Bengali Fish Recipes