Snakehead Fish Bhuna with Hyacinth Beans
Shim Diye Shol Macher Bhuna

Shol macher bhuna
A lush and delicious curry

Shol mach, Shoal mach, Snakehead fish, Mud fish are all names for this popular fish.

This fish is common in freshwater plains, where it migrates from rivers and lakes into flooded fields, returning to the permanent water bodies in the dry season, where it survives by burrowing in the mud.

Dishes using this fish and eaten with rice is very popular among Bengalis of  Bangladesh and West Bengal.

This earthy, chunky fish which holds firm when cooked is eaten all over South Asia.
Its a beautiful tasting fish. Often skinned whole and prepared with daikon/mooli, this is usually how its eaten by my inlaws.
I however enjoy it in a number of ways, in a jhol, bhaja or mostly a bhuna.

Its a fish that can hold and carry heavy spicing and bold flavours and still keep its characteristic taste. I’ve teamed it up with hyacinth beans today as I had some at home!

As with most of these fishes, they only are available in Specialist Bengali supermarkets and come frozen. I’ve included pics of the packaging just so you have a visual on size and appearance.
These fish can grow rather large but as with all fish, numbers have declined with over fishing and pollution over decades.


6 Shoal fish steaks
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp methi seeds
6 green chillies, 3 chopped and 3 slit
1 tomato chopped
1 medium onion finely minced or chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Handful of fresh coriander

As they come packaged, frozen
Steaks just lovely portions, rinsed, patted dry ready for marinade
Hyacinth beans, trim and cut into half.
You will notice it has strings on the sides when you cut them, just gently pull those away
Turmeric, chilli powder and salt rubbed in well and fish left to marinade whilst prepping fresh ingredients

Precooking the Fish

Rub the spices and salt into the fish making sure its well coated
Gently fry the fish steaks in little oil
You want to capture a light golden covering

Cooking the Curry:

Add methi seeds to the oil
When dark, aromatic and just becoming smoky
Add your onions and green chillies
Sweat this down till just starting to colour
Add salt and fry for couple of minutes
Add half cup of water, cover and cook on med/low. Stir occasionally until liquid has gone
When the oil is splitting add couple sponns water
Add the spice powders
Fry this for a few minutes, you will notice the oil splitting again and spices changing colour drying up
Add quarter cup water and cook till oil splits again
Add tomatoes, stir, cover and let this cook again
When the oil is separating,
all liquid evaporated you add a few tbsp water
Add the trimmed beans
Add your precooked fish
‘Bhuna’ this by gently cooking and moving around but without breaking up fish
Now add 2 cups of water
Add green chillies
Bring to gentle boil and cook on med partially covered until liquid has reduced by half
Your beans should be cooked through now.check with end of fork so that there is no resistance. Add handful of fresh coriander
Gently stir this in
You should have a sauce like single cream
Serve with hot rice

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