Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Not the usual Rui Machher Kalia

When it comes to fish, for Bengalis, there is jhol, jhal, tok and there is kalia. While machher jhol and jhal are more of a regular deal, a staple of sorts and tok (fish in tamarind sauce, really) is a matter of acquired taste, Machher Kalia is for special occasions — not necessarily but usually. If you have guests coming over for lunch, Machher Kalia is expected to feature on the menu. And in Bengali weddings, the morning feasts, (we usually have a few rituals to follow during the day, and the wedding is usually an evening affair) almost always has kalia on the menu just like it has the shukto (a mix of assorted vegetables cooked in subtly flavoured, slightly bitter gravy). I still remember a particular Kalia, which I had had at my aunt's baby shower, her sister had prepared and I have still not got over it. I had passed on the meat and the fish fry for multiple helpings of the Rui (Rohu) Machher Kalia.

What is Machher Kalia, well its fish cooked in a tomato based gravy not as soupy as a jhol, yet not too dry like a jhal. The nomenclature of this dish has always amused me. Kalia? Finding out why the Kalia is called Kalia is right now on my to do list. Anyway, so they make a neat Machher Kalia at my place but I took upon myself the challenge to give the good old kalia my own twist. And the result was...well try it and you won't regret it.


Rohu fish - 750 gms
Onions - 3 large (grated)
Tomatoes - 2 medium (grated) 
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 2 tsp
Coriander leaves paste - 4 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 11/2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - To taste
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Coconut milk - 1 can
Mustard Oil
Chopped green and red chilies
Coriander sprigs and whole red and green chilies for garnish.


Marinate the fish with a 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt for 15 minutes. Heat oil and fry the fish pieces well. Keep aside.

Grind the coriander, fennel  and cumin  seeds together to make a paste.

In a pan heat mustard oil and add onions, garlic and ginger paste. Fry on medium heat until oil separates.

Add tomatoes and continue to fry until oil separates. Now add the coriander-fennel-cumin paste, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder and fry the spices until oil separates once again. Keep the heat on the lower side so that the spices don't burn.

Now add the coconut milk, chopped green chilies, salt and sugar and bring to boil.

Add the pieces of fish and let it cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Just before taking the fish off the heat, stir in the coriander leaves paste.

Garnish and serve with steamed rice.  


  1. This recipe sounds different how I cook Kalia....Will try your version soon...Looks delicious...

  2. Very flavorful rui macher kalia. Loved the spices with South Indian touchings, must be delicious.