There are a million different ways to make catfish or Tangra mach in Bengal. Every home makes it differently and has a different name as well. Yesterday I made Tangra macher jhol for the legendary celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor when he came home for lunch. It was part of an elaborate Bengali traditional menu celebrating summer produce.

I used deshi tyangra, ie the local variety that has not been bred in captivated water. The added bonus was that the fish had roe- highly prized for its taste. The recipe is straightforward with few ingredients, allowing the fish to shine. I did not add potatoes, however, you can add potatoes to this dish as well.

Tangra Macher Jhol | Bengali Recipe of Catfish Curry - 2

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Tangra mach is not very popular with many. The fish doesn’t have scales and hence is not very accepted amongst the ghotis of yesteryears. Nowadays, with cross-cultural marriages and exposure to the rest of the world through travel, people have become more adventurous with food. Anindya is happy to try out different kinds of fish that include Tangra mach, boal mach, aar mach etc.

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I would be tempted to call this recipe tangra macher tel jhol or tyangra macher jhal, owing to the amount of mustard oil that goes into it. Ma makes tangra mach in a completely different way, which I will share in a later post. This one has sliced onions, tempering of nigella seeds and green chillies, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and a whole lot of mustard oil. You can also add a tsp of mustard paste and it will truly become a jhaal.

Tangra Macher Jhol | Bengali Recipe of Catfish Curry - 3

If you want to try out a few small fish varieties from Bengal, check out these recipes:
  1. Parshe macher jhal 
  2. Tel Koi
  3. Pabda macher bori diye jhol
  4. Loitte macher jhuri

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Tangra Macher Jhol | Bengali Recipe of Catfish Curry - 3

Tangra Macher jhol | Spicy catfish curry

Tangra macher jhol is a Bengali styly spicy catfish curry with nigella seeds, onions, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and mustard oil.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Fish Recipes, Non Vegetarian
Cuisine Bengali, Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 8 pcs tangra mach
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 4-5 nos green chillies
  • ½ cup mustard oil
  • salt to taste


  • Clean the fish and rub a bit of salt with half tsp of turmeric powder on them.
  • Finely slice the onions and set them aside.
  • In a kadai or wok, heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil and when it is hot, gently slide in the tangra mach into the oil. Keep the heat at medium to low and fry the fish on both sides for not more than 30 -45 seconds on each side. Basically, as soon as the fish can be flipped on one side, turn it around to cook the other side.
  • Once done, take the fish out and keep them aside. In the same pan, add another 2 tbsp of oil and heat it.
  • Add nigella seeds and 2 green chillies. As soon as the green chillies turn colour, add the sliced onions and start frying them.
  • Fry the onions on medium heat till they have softened. In a bowl, take turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a little water. Make a paste and add this to the onions.
  • Cook the spices with the onions on medium heat. Sprinkle water and add salt.
  • After a couple of minutes, add the fish and then half cup of water to this.
  • Make sure that the fish is covered in water and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish around and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Then add slit green chillies, adjust the salt and add 1- 2 tsp of mustard oil, give it a boil and take it off the heat.
  • Serve this with steamed rice.
Keyword bengali fish curry, catfish curry, tangra maach, tangra macher jhaal, tangra macher jhol, tangra macher tel jhol, tyangra macher jhol