“Bangalir Pran”- Maccher jhol is a traditional Bengali and Odia spicy stew. A staple in almost every Bengali household, this simple fish curry is made in mustard oil. In fact, no Bengali meal is complete without maccher jhol!
The fish is simmered in a tomato-based curry scented with mustard oil and the region’s distinctive mix of five spices: toasted fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard and fennel seeds.
To make it more nutritious, vegetables are added to the curry which in turn makes the dish even more tasty! To prepare this dish, the most commonly used fish is a type of freshwater carp or rui maach. However, you can also use salmon, pomfret, tilapia or catfish if you don’t have access to rui maach.
This dish helps to exemplify the fact that Bengali recipes call for the frying of the main ingredient in mustard oil before it is added to the gravy or curry. Can any of you guess why? Well, this is thought to enhance the flavour and cause the fish to absorb the spices in the gravy better.
Interestingly, this quintessential dish has evolved over time. Every family has their tales and twists around the classic Bengali fish stew. Although it can be savoured through out the year, the dish being light is enjoyed the most during the summer time. It helps to regulate the body temperature during the scorching heat, keeping our bodies cool. The vegetables added to the dish, and the fish provides enough nutrition and keeps us satiated!
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