Friday, October 30, 2009

Bhaja Mung Dal Ilish Macher Matha Diye (Mung Dal with Hilsha Head)

When I was a child I have seen my Baba go to the market to buy fish and meat. Those days there were very few working mothers and even if the wife had lots of time in hand she never went to the fish market alone. We looked forward to Sundays when Baba would take us with him to the market to buy mutton. And during lunch the aashon (small mats) would be spread out, one next to the other, in a row on the floor of the kitchen verandah and the kansar thala and bati (bell-metal plates and bowls) would be placed in front of every aashon. Baba always sat first in the row and the others took their place one by one. The meal would be served by the cook once everyone sat down. That was how we enjoyed our family meal.

…and now it is chit chat at the dining table. Many landing up later in their life with knee joint pains and many cannot sit crossed leg on the floor.

Coming back to food it is a fishy day with fish head. I have seen many of my friends leave behind the fish head with the fishmonger as they did not like to eat it. Ask any Bangali about macher matha (fish head) and pat they can say, “Koto kichu hote pare macher matha diye (cook so many recipes using fish head). After all Bengalis love fish and many cannot deny they die to have at least macher jhool (fish curry) everyday.

Without wasting time back to my preparation. Ilish mach has its own smell, taste and flavour. I made mung dal with the hilsa fish head without onion or garlic. Very simple and…the taste, your palate can judge.

 Picture of dressed fish head


Hilsa fish head -1 (the gills separated and the rest cut into smaller size as in the picture).
Mung dal (roasted) – 1 cup
Panch phoron – 1½ tsp
Haldi powder
Red chilies - 2
Mustard oil

How I cooked it:

Roast the mung dal till it gets a pink colour ( not a baby pink, a bit stronger)
Wash and pour it into the pressure pan.
Add about 2 ½ to 3 cups of water.
Add haldi, cover with the lid.
Put the pressure cooker on the burning stove and let it cook. Three to four whistles will do.
Switch off the gas.
Rub the head pieces with haldi and salt.
Heat mustard oil in a kadhai and when the smoke starts coming throw the fish head into the oil and fry it till it is crispy.
Take it out and keep it aside.


Heat about 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a kadhai. You can use the oil that was used for frying the head.
When the oil is hot break the red chilies into half and add them to the oil and stir.
When the chili gives out its smell and changes colour add the panch phoron.
Once they start spluttering add the cooked dal to it.
Add salt to taste and sugar as per your taste and once the dal starts boiling break the fried pieces into more smaller bits and add to the dal.
Stir for a couple of minutes. The dal should be neither too thick nor too thin.
It’s ready to be served with hot boiled rice.
This is a dish that tastes good with rice.


  1. This is great!!!
    In fact Iam in santiniketan on a short visit now and will be back in Cal tomorrow, where a traditional Rui fish head in Mung dal is waiting for me...Will try this dal certainly, very simple too.
    By the way , In malaysia , fish head curry is a premium item on menu..and expensive too.

  2. Ushnish,
    Enjoy your trip and food in Kolkata. I have cooked Rui matha with cholar dal also. That also tastes fabulous. Next time when I cook this dish will post it here.
    ...hah! never heard about the expensive fish head curry of Malaysia...a good share of thought.
    As you had said earlier, I have started writing about my school activities in the other blog -'Leisure Rambling'. if you have time please do visit the blogspot.
    Waiting to see what is in your next (blogspot) menu chart (smiles).

  3. Wow - fish head with mung dal ? Never had that. Had it with Chlor dal ofcourse... Tastes yum... What a coincidence I posted a dish on Mung dal too!

  4. I love fish in all forms, head is a delicasy, right my friend...your version sounds too tempting and nice. Lovely color you got there...can't wait to try this soon, wish I get soem nice fish here, but its hard to find fish here:(

  5. anek din kono recipe aschhe na..byasto acchen nischoi

  6. very delicious bengali food recipes out bengali foods...especially the fish dishes...nice blog...will keep visiting u care...keep blogging...hv a nice weekend.