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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.


  • 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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.