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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Maacher matha diye muger da (Lentil with fish head)


We rarely had fish head in lentil at home. The reason being that in Kolkata you need to separately buy the fish head, which were in general huge in size. With just 3 people at home we rarely did that.
First time I had this famous bong food was at my grandma-s house, when we went for the traditional ceremony of jamai-shosti. In Jamai-shosti, son-in-law or Jamai is invited over and almost fed to death. I think it started as some sort of celebration then slowly turned into the an occasion where mom-in-laws got their sweet revenge.
I can still remember that day when my grandma and choto-mashi with her leg in cast was sitting and making this at their home.
Now things have changed, here in the US you have to buy a whole fish, which not-surprisingly comes with its head :). So maacher matha diye muger daal has turned into a common bi-monthly delicacy.


  1. 1 fish head cut into four pieces
  2. 1 cup yellow moong dal
  3. 1 medium onion finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp. ginger paste
  5. 1 tsp. garlic paste
  6. 1 tsp. chili powder
  7. 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  8. 1 tsp. cumin powder
  9. 1 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  10. Turmeric powder
  11. 2,3 tejpatta ( bay leaf)
  12. 2,3 dry red chilies
  13. 1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter


Wash the fish head thoroughly in water and pat it dry. Smear it with salt and turmeric and keep aside. Meanwhile dry roast the moong dal on medium heat till you get a nutty flavor. Don't char them. Now wash thoroughly the dal and cook it in a pressure cooker with little salt ,turmeric and 2 cups of water. Let the pressure releases on its own after one whistle. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just cook the daal for a longer period of time. In a kadai heat mustard oil till smoky and fry the fish head. It can splutter so it is better to keep the kadai covered with a lid. You don't have to break the fish head as it will start disintegrating from its joints once it is fried. Remove and reserve it. Take fresh oil in a kadai and heat it. Temper the oil with bay leaves and broken dried red chilies. Now add finely chopped onions to it and fry till they become translucent. Add fish head and ginger garlic paste to it. Sprinkle all dry masala other than garam masala and fry them with fish head. Once you see the oil gets separated out from the masala add boiled dal to it. Season with salt and sugar and let it simmer with fish head for 2-3 mins. The dal will not be runny rather it will have a thick consistency. Finish it off with garam masala powder and ghee. Serve it with hot rice and crispy alu bhaja.  IMG_0732-Edit

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