Indian Butter Fish Curry Recipe (Pabda Maach er jhal)

The Indian Butter Fish or Pabda as its local name goes is considered as a delicacy in Kolkata and is often served in weddings, family get-togethers and other social events. The most common way of serving this variant of fish is what I am going to tell you about. This is the Pabda jhal and here is how you make it

Pabda Maach er jhal

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: medium
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  1. Full Pabda fish (4 whole fish)
  2. Mustard seeds (2 tspn)
  3. Poppy Seeds (1 tspn)
  4. Cashews (5 pcs)
  5. Green Chillies(6 pcs)
  6. Onions (2 pcs)
  7. Ginger Garlic Paste (1 tspn)
  8. Turmeric Powder (1 tspn)
  9. Mustard Oil
  10. Salt


Step 1: Season the fish

The first step in any fish curry recipe is seasoning the fish. A proper bengali seasoning is add salt and turmeric powder on the fish and massage it slowly so that the entire fish is coated. Let it rest for 15 -30 mins while you can prepare the curry paste.

Step 2: Make the curry paste

The base  of this curry will be 2 pastes; one being your mustard paste and the other onion. As your fish is rests,  grind your mustard seeds, poppy seeds, cashew nuts and green chilies with a little bit of mustard oil until it forms a paste. Roughly chop you onions and grind it so that it makes a paste and keep that separate.

Step 3: Fry the fishes

Heat your wok or pan to high with mustard oil and wait until it starts to smoke. Once smoking hot, add your fishes one at a time and fry them in a low to medium heat. It is very important to fry the fish so that it does not break. 3 minutes on each side should be enough. Take them out into a paper towel.

Step 4: Prepare the curry

Use the residual oil in you pan and add the onion paste. Fry it to a medium heat so that it becomes golden. you can add salt at this stage to speed up the process as they start to caramelize. Add you mustard paste to this now and stir for a minute until it mixes with to form a thick consistency. Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder, followed by two cups of water. Raise the heat and bring it to a boil.

Step 5: Add the fish and serve

As soon as your curry comes to a boil reduce the heat to low and add the fish back to the curry. Make sure to coat all of them in the curry and thats it. Your dish is ready. Garnish with some slit green chillies and chopped coriander.

This is a traditional bengali lunch dish. Serve hot with plain rice and enjoy. Do share the recipe if you like it.


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