Fish in Mustard Sauce

#FromMyKitchen is a brand new series on the blog. Here, I bring you recipes which are easy to cook at home, perhaps on a weekend when you feel adventurous enough to do so. Let me begin with an honest confession. The kitchen was never a favorite place for me. Fortunately for me, in the first year of my married life, my mother-in-law ensured that she held charge of her “territory.” This ensured I was spared the tribulations of cooking, since all I could manage was a bare basic meal, at the most. 

Of course, I’d chip in whenever help was needed. It was only about two years later, when I made my first historic entry into the kitchen, after setting home in Mauritius. There was a day when I woke up feeling really homesick and sorely missing mom’s cooking. I confess I’m not a foodie by any measure, but I was really missing good, home-cooked food, for a long time. Needless to say, being a novice and unable to replicate mom’s recipes only made it worse. During one of my trips back home, I had picked up a few cookery books that were gathering dust on the shelves. It was time to bring them out and thus began my tryst with the culinary world. Out of sheer necessity at first, but with slow and steady steps, countless disasters and endless experimentations later, I realised cooking was not all that difficult. Like everything else, it was all in the mind. Having banished all my fears aside, I welcomed the ‘cape’ into my life! Voila, the magic had just begun! My husband, Jay was the biggest beneficiary from my new project. Being a real foodie, he lapped up the dishes, one by one, with great relish and enthusiasm. His “acchey din” had finally arrived, you see! Not for long, though. In about a year’s time, we set off for England, when I got a place for a Masters programme. But, that is another story, which I shall leave for another day.

Today, let me begin with a signature Bengali dish. And why not? There could be nothing more quintessentially Bengali than Mustard Fish, to kick off the series. Not least because it is a great dish but because this was one of the first recipes that I had mastered as a cook, and have had quite a few requests from friends to share it. 

Before I begin, let me remind you all, Bengalis love their fish cooked to perfection, and will not hesitate to kick up a storm if anyone messes with it. Having said that, Parul’s post is proof that even the North-Indians love this dish as much. Here, I’m sharing my favourite family recipe, easy enough even for the novice cook to try out on a lzy Sunday.

Now, let me tell you, in most Bengali households, Fish is eaten daily. To ensure variety in taste, they prepare their fish in myriad ways – Macher Kalia, Maacher Jhol (Fish Curry), Shorshe Maach (Mustard Fish), Maach Bhape (Steamed Fish in Mustard Sauce), Maacher Jhaal (Spicy Fish curry ) to name just a few. All said and done, I’m of the belief that a good fish curry is a true soul food – a true homecoming if you know what I mean!

Here goes the recipe for  Mustard Fish or ‘Shorshe Maach’. 

img_3906Recipe for SHORSHE MAACH (Fish in Mustard Sauce)

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Serving Size : For 

Things to keep in mind: Do keep in mind that before frying the fish, oil must be smoking hot, otherwise the fish tends to stick to the pan. Think ahead – mustard paste can be prepared in advance. This recipe is meant for freshwater fishes, such as Rohu, Catla and Tilapia, but I’ve also tried it with cod, sea bass and salmon fillet and it tastes just as mouth-wateringly good. Feel free to try any fish you love. Please note that the quality of the mustard oil is very very important because this is what lends the distinct flavour and the typical aroma to this dish. 


  • Fish fillet or steak cut : 6-8 pieces 
  • Yellow mustard seeds (to be soaked in water for an hour or more and then made into a paste): 3-4 tbsp or ready-to-cook Mustard Powder/paste from the supermarket.
  • Black caraway or Kalonji (nigella seeds) : 1/2 tsp.
  • Green chilies : 2-3 or as required
  • Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Tomato puree : 2tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil : 2-3 tbsp (I prefer Dabur Kachhi ghani for this one!)
  • Fresh coriander to garnish


  1. Clean Fish chunks carefully and rub little Salt and Turmeric Powder to the Fish pieces and leave those for 10 minutes. Make a paste of Mustard Seed using either a grinder or a mixer.
  2. Mix a little salt and a sliced green chili with the mustard paste and leave it aside for around 15 minutes. (You may also substitute it with readily available mustard paste, if you prefer.)
  3. Heat the mustard oil in a Wok. It should be sufficiently hot.
  4. Now add the fried fish pieces very carefully in medium heat till the fishes turn golden brown in color.
  5. Strain fish pieces from oil and keep them aside.
  6. In the same oil, add kalonji or black caraway seeds. When these begin to splutter, add add turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder to the gravy.
  7. Now, add the tomato puree and cook for around 5 minutes or till the aroma of uncooked tomatoes goes away.
  8. Next, add 1/2 Cup of water to the mustard paste and strain the liquid to discard the mustard skin.
  9. Add the mustard mixture to the gravy and bring it to boil.
  10. Add the fried fish pieces to the gravy.
  11. Cook for around 8-10 minutes in medium flame and turn fired fishes to coat them properly with the mustard gravy.
  12. Water level can be adjusted if required. Try to keep a medium consistency.
  13. Now add 1 tbsp. of raw mustard oil to the gravy and cook for 2 more minutes.
  14. Garnish with fresh coriander and sliced green chillis. Your Mustard Fish Curry or Shorshe Mach is ready to be served, with steaming hot rice.

For fish enthusiasts, this mouth-watering delicacy is a great dish to try out on a weekend. And, if you’re too lazy to cook, you may stop by at your nearest branch of the well-known chain of restaurants, ‘Oh Calcutta’ who specialize in authentic Bengali cuisine. Think, I must add that the homecooked version always wins hands down. 🙂


25 thoughts

  1. What can I say except that I cannot live without fish! And this is one of my favourite recipes 🙂 All the best for the new series on the blog 🙂

  2. Kitchen was never my fav place in our home too, but with a husband who is passionate about not only eating great food but cooking it too, I had to change my priorities a bit. And like you, over the years I have realized that all it needs is a bit of basics and some help from books and TV shows and a pinch of imagination and you are good to go with culinary delights. Love the colour of the fish. I looks so tempting. A great start to a yummy series, Esha. Looking forward to your fav recipes every week. Cheers 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Shilpa! I like it how many of us have got “used” to spending time in the kitchen and getting it right, even though we were tuned to be otherwise. Ultimately, everyone wins, right. The pleasure of serving a meal that everyone loves is unparalleled 🙂

  3. Oh man! this is exactly how I cook and sarso wali fish (like I call it) is my favorite. This recipe is the favorite food in my entire paternal side. We welcome daughters and daughters-in-law with this and we also prepare this for Dusshera. Add to all days that are asupicious and we want to celebrate. Sometimes I wonder how did my grand mother (Dadi) got this recipe. We are not Bengali but this dish is ours 🙂
    Thanks for sharing. I am going to tag you on this post for recipe –

    1. Oh, really, Parul?! In that case, our connection actually goes a long long way back. Both my grandmothers used to make this and I picked it up from my mom. Maybe our grandmothers were soul-sisters (Who knows!) So glad you shared your fish story with me here. I will surely hop onto your post to check out your story rightaway 🙂

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