Kajoli Mach, also known as Gangetic Ailia, is a fresh water fish and belongs to the catfish family. This fish is typically available and popular in Indian subcontinent. This fish is relatively small and cooked whole in various delectable forms. Happen to be one of my personal favourites, I have been deprived from this since quite a long time as this fish is not easily available in this part of South India where I currently stay. Recently, I saw the fish listed online and in no time I ordered for the same 🙂 My Sunday lunch was truly soul-satisfying with my favourite Kajoli Mach pairing with piping hot rice – a true Bengali delight!
Back home, Kajoli Mach had never been treated so specially as it was available in abundance. Baba used to bring this often and Maa cooked the best. Today’s recipe is actually Maa‘s speciality. This is a super simple and utterly delicious dish where the fish gets along with mustard and poppy seed paste with a dash of kalojira (nigella seed) and creates the magic.
Please note that Kajoli Mach is a very delicate fish and very much prone to breakage. You need to be very careful while cooking as a little bit of overcooking can break the fishes. Also, like most of the freshwater catfishes, Kajoli Mach can be cooked with or without frying. For me, it tastes even better if cooked without frying and so I never fry them. Yes, Bengalis fry their fish while cooking but Kajoli Mach, Pabda Mach and many such catfishes are exceptions. Here’s is the recipe for you all.
- 500 gm kajoli mach
- 2 table-spoon mustard seed
- 1 table-spoon poppy seed
- 6 green chillies (2 + 4 slitted)
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1/2 tea-spoon nigella seed
- 1/2 tea-spoon turmeric powder
- 2-3 table-spoon mustard oil
- 1.5 cup warm water
- salt, according to taste
- a handful of chopped coriander leaves
- Clean and wash the fish and rub with few pinches of turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside.
- Grind mustard seed, poppy seed and 2 green chillies together to make a fine paste. Keep the paste aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and temper with nigella seeds. Allow them to splutter.
- Now, add slitted green chillies and tomato and stir until the tomato turns mushy.
- Lower the flame and add mustard-poppy paste, turmeric powder and salt. Stir for 1 minute.
- Now, add water and cover the lid. On a medium flame, cook for 5 minutes.
- Open the lid and add the fishes one by one, very carefully. Gently stir and let the gravy cover all the fishes.
- Cover the lid and cook for 7-8 minutes on low to medium flame. The fishes should be well cooked by then. Do not overcook.
- Open the lid and add chopped coriander leaves. Turn off the flame and cover the lid again. Rest for 5 minutes.
- Your Kajoli Macher Jhaal is ready to be served now.
If you wish you can also add some more slitted green chillies at the last stage with coriander leaves and this will give a distinct aroma to the dish. Serve this amazing dish with hot steamed rice.
Enjoy this authentic Bengali fish curry and do drop me a comment giving your feedback about this recipe. You can also tag me on Instagram using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks.