Dudh Diye Macher Jhol Fish Curry Cooked In Milk

Dudh Diye Macher Jhol
Fish in milk
Elish in milk

This Dudh Diye Macher Jhol or Fish Cooked in Milk is a great fish curry that works with most kinds of fish. It is a quick recipe. The light sauce has a subtle mustardy taste but amazingly there is no mustard in the recipe other than the oil. It’s one that I make often when I’m desperate for a fish curry in a hurry!
It’s almost a playful dish, a little nudge pushing boundaries. Fish is often cooked with yoghurt/curd but very rarely is it cooked in milk.

I suppose it’s not much different from poaching fish in milk and spices to make a white sauce only the flavours are somewhat more potent characteristic of Indian spice and seasoning. Given that there is very little in terms of spice it goes to show how bold some of the ingredients we use are in a Bengali cuisine.

There is no thick creamy sauce with this dish, rather as the name suggests it is a ‘jhol’ and really goes well with rice.

I’ve used various Bengali fish such as Rohu (Rui Maach), Ilish (Hilsa) and Tilapia Fillet. It tastes absolutely perfect with all those fishes but it really is the best using traditional fish.

I’ve used Tilapia fillets today for the ease in eating with spoon. My hubby cooked the curry as my right arm is in a sling and it is the most simple of fish curries that you could make. I used half water and milk as over time we are a household that has soya or almond milk but you can use 2 cups of milk for a richer ‘jhol’ as the recipe originally was.

As with most Bengali fish curries, there is that slight pre-prep for the fish which needs to be gently and slightly sautéed in turmeric and salt before using in any curry. This is usually to get rid of any strong raw fish odour and cut the fish oil.

I’ve used mustard oil in order to capture the true essence of the curry, if you don’t have Mustard Oil use your regular cooking oil. If you can get hold of Mustard Oil, well the taste then takes on a new dimension. I have a bottle from India that I refill with pouches bought from Kolkata by family.

I also used Rocoto Manzano chilli pepper, a South American chilli from my garden for a little more heat with green chillies.

Home grown
Rococo Manzano
Capsicum pubescens is native to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and dates back to pre-Incan times; traces of its presence have been found in the Guitarrero Caves. It is also considered the flagship chilli of Peru and it is consumed fresh, paste, dried, or ground. It belongs to a species of the genus Capsicum (pepper), and is known in Peru and Ecuador as rocoto


4 pieces of fish of your choice
4 tablespoon of mustard oil
1 teaspoon of nigella/kalonji seeds
5 fresh green chilis, slit
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup of water/milk each)
half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp mustard oil for garnish
Fresh coriander for garnish optional

Pre-pepping the Fish by Frying

If you are using steak pieces of fish clean the fish pieces and toss with turmeric and salt. Keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat Oil(Mustard Oil preferred) in a Karai or Frying Pan. Fry the pieces of fish till golden on both sides. Set aside

Marinate with turmeric, salt and chilli powder
Non stick pan with little oil
Fry on side till golden do not move around or handle too much
Turn over and leave to colour
Once done remove and set aside.

For the Curry

Meanwhile in the cup of Milk add the Turmeric powder, salt, sugar and mix till you get a nice yellow hue.

Turmeric, salt and sugar
Mix in well

Heat the Mustard Oil in a Pan. Temper the Oil by adding the Kalonji/Nigella seeds. Fry for about 20 secs and add fresh green chili (puncture the chili if you don’t like the heat).There will be a lot of spluttering so it is wise to cover the pan with a splatter screen.

Mustard oil
Chilli and Nigella seeds

When the kalonji/nigella is aromatic, add the milk to the pan and let it simmer till it comes to a boil. Be mindful that it does not froth and spill. Stir intermittently and leave the spoon in the pan as it comes to the boil to prevent overspill.


Now add a cup of water or another cup of milk, let the jhol simmer at medium heat and reduce a little.

Add 1 cup of milk or water according to preference

Once you see it bubbling add the fish pieces and another green slit chilli, simmer for 5 more minutes covered.

Add the fried fish
Fresh slit green chillies
Simmer till oil floats

Switch off heat and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves if you like. Let the sauce soak up its flavor. Drizzle a few drops of mustard oil to jazz up if you wish but it does add a vibrant aromatic flavour.

Serve with hot plain rice.

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