indian curry

West Bengal Fish Curry

In Spicy Main Dishes by Dave DeWittLeave a Comment

Indian curries are best if you don’t mind your oil intake! It is the addition of lots of oil–up to 4 tablespoonfuls–that gives the sauce for this fish curry a creamy consistency and intensity. Regardless of how much oil you use, you have to keep stirring the onion or it will scorch, and it’s the same with the sauce when it is simmering–stir it every ten minutes at least. West Bengalis like to use fresh-water fish. You can use any white fish that has firm meat (I have tried it with different salt water fish, and it worked well each time); the fish is initially fried in turmeric specifically to counterbalance the fishy taste.

indian curry

West Bengal Fish Curry Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 6 pieces of fish, about 2 inches long, skin on
  • Mustard oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 small fresh red chiles, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, blended
  • 1 medium onion, blended
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1-inch squares
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes
  • Sprinkling of ground chile
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon to squeeze (optional)
  • Dollop yoghurt (optional)


  1. Rub turmeric on the fish, adding more turmeric if necessary.
  2. Heat some mustard oil in a skillet until it starts smoking, and fry the fish pieces on high heat for about three minutes on each side, or until almost cooked.
  3. Put the fish aside, and in the same skillet fry cumin seeds, bay leaves, red chiles, garlic, onion, some more turmeric, and cook on medium heat, stirring, for a few minutes; then add potatoes and continue frying until half-cooked.
  4. Then add the chopped tomatoes and ground chile and water and sugar, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to a creamy consistency. Add the fish and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  5. If using lemon and yoghurt, mix into the sauce just before serving.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Medium

Photo by Piotr Arnoldes from Pexels
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Publisher | Christened the "Pope of Peppers" by The New York Times, Dave DeWitt is a food historian and one of the foremost authorities in the world on chile peppers, spices, and spicy foods.

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