Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

Bengali fish curries like the tangra macher jhol are light and flavourful. The tangra macher jhol translates to the ultimate home-style comfort food for me and I can eat this broth every day with a ladleful of steamed rice. The tangra fish is a freshwater fish and as you know, Bengali cooking revolves around using a variety of freshwater fishes, which do not have a strong taste and smell, unlike sea fishes. Tangra imparts a mild aroma to the broth and this fish tastes great in whichever way you cook. Even in India, it is not commonly available everywhere. It is more commonly available with Bengali fishmongers. If you don’t get this fish, try this recipe with any freshwater fish.

  Tangra macher jhol final pic 096-001.jpg

Tangra macher jhol is an old recipe, circulating across Bengali families from one generation to the other. I have had this broth (jhol) countless number of times since my childhood. My mother used to make this broth atleast once a week, as my family absolutely loved it. On our way back home from school, we would always ask our mother about what she cooked for lunch, and tangra macher jhol in the lunch menu always made us smile (and more hungry!). My sister and I would fight for fishes having eggs in them, as the eggs were very tasty too. Well-browned potatoes are a delight in this broth. This jhol revives many childhood memories everytime I cook it. My mother used to lovingly clean each and every fish thoroughly and called my younger sister and me to observe (and learn) her fish-cleaning process, although we were not quite interested in cooking in those days. Frankly, till I got married, I never cooked, except chicken curry and mushroom curry. But after I got married and settled here in Mumbai, far from my parents’ home in New Delhi, I started missing those authentic home-style fish broths and other curries. Nine years back, there were days when I would buy a kind of fish and would have no clue on how to cook: so I would call up my mother and she would patiently explain the recipe to me. In addition, I started reading cookbooks and followed instructions from well-seasoned home cooks. I surfed the internet for recipes and started experimenting with food and cooking. Now it is almost nine years since my marriage and over these years, my passion for cooking grew manifolds. If not anything else, atleast, I can confidently cook authentic Bengali dishes like the tangra macher jhol and feed a crowd!

10 twinings contest and high tea.jpg

Enjoying Twinings high tea at JW Marriott, Mumbai, along with a delectable platter of tea-time fare.

These were delicious with Twinings tea. The chef also served pea kachoris, chicken popcorn and scones.

These were delicious with Twinings tea. The chef also served pea kachoris, chicken popcorn and scones.

Oh, and did I tell you that I recently won the Twinings India High Tea Twitter contest by JW Marriott. The question asked on Twitter was, “What would you like to pair with Twinings tea?” My answer was, “Cheese balls, smoked salmon doughnuts, chicken popcorn and the very Indian pea kachoris.” Thanks to the whole JW Marriott team (especially Chef Savio Fernandes) and Twinings India for offering such a delectable spread to my husband and me. With wonderful desserts, snacks and savouries, the evening was truly special!

 

The fishes should be fresh and firm. If not, the fish skin would stick to the pan, while frying.

The fishes should be fresh and firm. If not, the fish skin would stick to the pan, while frying.

Back to those fishes again. As my kids cannot tolerate spicy food, exactly opposite to what the biggies in my family like, I add whole green chillies (with the stalk) at the end of the cooking, but I make sure that these get boiled in the broth for a few minutes. Finally, after taking out the kids’ portion, I squeeze in these chilies in my plate and the broth becomes as spicy as I want!

 

Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

 Ingredients:

Freshwater fish (tangra in this recipe): 13

Potato (medium-sized; cut into 10 pieces lengthwise): 1

Bay leaves (small): 2

Finely chopped onions: ¾ cup

Cumin powder: 1.5 tsp

Turmeric powder (divided): 1 tsp (for marination and broth)

Salt (divided): 2 tsp

Mustard oil: 4 tbsp

Whole green chillies: 5

Warm water: Enough to just submerge the fishes

 

Method:

Wash the fish thoroughly. Make a slit at the neck. Remove the gills from the head and slowly pull out the blackish thread from the stomach. Wash the fish again. Discard the fins if you wish.

Marinate the fish with ¾ tsp salt and half the turmeric powder. Keep aside for 20 min.

  Tangra macher jhol FRYING potatoes.jpg

Heat mustard oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is really hot and starts to smoke, slowly insert the fishes, leaving some gap between each fish. Keep the flame on the low. Flip each of the fishes very carefully after around 2 min, taking care that the thin skin does not tear. If the fish is fried without tearing the skin, you score full marks! Both the sides should be medium-browned. Don’t fry till crisp, as this will prevent the broth from absorbing into the fish. Remove the fishes and keep aside.

In this oil, fry the potatoes with half of the remaining salt, till light brown on both the sides. Keep aside.

  Tangra macher jhol FRYING ONIONS.jpg

In the same oil, add bay leaves. Wait till these change colour. Add the onions and the rest of the salt. Fry till the onions become brownish and very soft. Add the rest of the turmeric powder and cumin powder, dissolved in a few tablespoons of warm water. Keep on stirring continuously until the water evaporates and oil starts separating. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir continuously once again till oil separates. Repeat this step one more time.

Add warm water now. Stir the broth properly and introduce the fishes, one at a time. Scatter the potatoes into the broth. Add the chillies. Cover and cook at medium heat, until the broth comes to a boil.

Once the broth starts boiling, simmer and boil for five more minutes. Switch off the gas and give the broth a standing time of 10 min, before opening the lid.

Serve hot over steamed rice. Squeeze-in a little chilly for additional taste.

Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

Tangra Macher Jhol (Bengali Freshwater Fish Broth)

This is a comforting Bengali fish recipe using fist-sized freshwater fishes called tangra. If you don't get this fish, replace with any freshwater fish.

Ingredients

  • Freshwater fish (tangra in this recipe): 13
  • Potato (medium-sized; cut into 10 pieces lengthwise): 1
  • Bay leaves (small): 2
  • Finely chopped onions: ¾ cup
  • Cumin powder: 1.5 tsp
  • Turmeric powder (divided): 1 tsp (for marination and broth)
  • Salt (divided): 2 tsp
  • Mustard oil: 4 tbsp
  • Whole green chillies: 5
  • Warm water: Enough to just submerge the fishes

Instructions

  1. Wash the fish thoroughly. Make a slit at the neck. Remove the gills from the head and slowly pull out the blackish thread from the stomach. Wash the fish again. Discard the fins if you wish.
  2. Marinate the fish with ¾ tsp salt and half the turmeric powder. Keep aside for 20 min.
  3. Heat mustard oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is really hot and starts to smoke, slowly insert the fishes, leaving some gap between each fish. Keep the flame on the low. Flip each of the fishes very carefully after around 2 min, taking care that the thin skin does not tear. If the fish is fried without tearing the skin, you score full marks! Both the sides should be medium-browned. Don’t fry till crisp, as this will prevent the broth from absorbing into the fish. Remove the fishes and keep aside.
  4. In this oil, fry the potatoes with half of the remaining salt, till light brown on both the sides. Keep aside.
  5. In the same oil, add bay leaves. Wait till these change colour. Add the onions and the rest of the salt. Fry till the onions become brownish and very soft. Add the rest of the turmeric powder and cumin powder, dissolved in a few tablespoons of warm water. Keep on stirring continuously until the water evaporates and oil starts separating. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir continuously once again till oil separates. Repeat this step one more time.
  6. Add warm water now. Stir the broth properly and introduce the fishes, one at a time. Scatter the potatoes into the broth. Add the chillies. Cover and cook at medium heat, until the broth comes to a boil.
  7. Once the broth starts boiling, simmer and boil for five more minutes. Switch off the gas and give the broth a standing time of 10 min, before opening the lid.
  8. Serve hot over steamed rice. Squeeze-in a little chilly for additional taste.
http://www.cosmopolitancurrymania.com/tangra-macher-jhol-bengali-freshwater-fish-broth/

 

 

 

  • kitchenriffs

    Congrats on winning the high tea! And thanks for this wonderful looking fish recipe. This sounds so appealing – definitely something I’d like to try. Thanks so much.

  • Belinda @zomppa

    Best traditions are those passed along – what a great win!!

  • YiReservation

    Congrats on winning the high tea! I am really jealous of you!! And the fish dish looks really delicious. I grew up eating fish submerged in heavy spice and broth so this looks extra comforting to me. I don’t think I have seen tangra in the markets here but I’d like to try this using whiting perhaps. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.culinaryflavors.gr/ Katerina

    Congratulations on winning the high tea! The fish looks very appetizing!

  • Asha Shivakumar

    I know Bengali curries are quite popular and this does look simple and yum. My hubby a big big fan of seafood would definitely like this.

  • Minnie Gupta

    Congratulations on winning the High tea :)

    Ki darron ki daroon!!! Tangra mach…yummm!!!

  • http://justonecookbook.com/blog/ Nami | Just One Cookbook

    As I get older, I somehow prefer to eat more fish (and I do remember hearing adults saying it when I was really young). I love all kinds of fish dish. A lot of people are not comfortable dealing with fish but growing up with all kinds of fish, it’s no problem with me. This looks so delicious. With lots of rice on the side, I can eat it 3 times a day. :D And congrats on winning! I am always skeptical about being able to win stuff like that, but here you are, winning and enjoying the high tea. I should be more optimistic, heh? ;)

  • http://curryandcomfort.blogspot.com/ Curry and Comfort

    I love fish dishes… this looks delicious. :)

  • ChgoJohn

    How nice that you won the Twinings twitter contest. Congratulations! This is such an interesting dish, one that I’ve not seen before. Like all your recipes, I bet it’s quite delicious.

  • Daniela

    I love curry but have never tried fish curry . This one looks very tasty, so this time I will!
    The high tea looks fantastic, hope you enjoyed it:)

  • AlchemyInTheKitchen

    Purabi, this is completely new for me. What a lovely fish dish!

  • Amelia

    Hi Purabi, your fish broth look very appetizing and flavorful. Love the gravy with extra rice. :) The high tea look good, thanks for sharing your very elegant pictures.

    Have a wonderful week.