Machher Mathar Dal


Being surrounded by water, Bengal offers a variety of seafood and fish is a big part of the Bengali cuisine. Today I’m writing about a very traditional recipe of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and I’ve tried to keep it as authentic as the original recipe. This recipe is prepared using nothing but the fish’s head so it might not be for everyone but if offal is your thing then you’ll surely love this dish.


  • Fish head 2 ( preferably of Rohu/Katla)
  • Yellow lentil (moong dal-skinned) 3/4 cupDSCN1378
  • Onion 1 (paste)
  • Garlic paste 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste 1 tsp
  • Tomato 1 (big, pureed)
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
  • Chili powder 1 tsp (or as per taste)
  • Coriander powder 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
  • Bay leaf 1(dry)
  • Dry red chili 1
  • Green chili 2 (slitted)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon 1″pc
  • Green cardamom 3
  • Cloves 4 Ghee (clarified butter) 1tsp
  • Oil 5 tbl spn


Clean fish head properly (by removing the gills) and wash thoroughly. Add 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and salt to the fish. Keep it aside.

Grind cinnamon, cardamom, cloves with 2tbl spn of water into a paste and keep the paste aside.

Heat a wok and add the lentils. Dry roast by stirring continuously (do not add any liquid to it). When they are beautifully golden in colour, soak them in water for 20 minutes. Pressure cook by adding 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, salt and water (as required) till the pulses are nicely boiled but not over boiled or mushy. Keep aside.

Meanwhile in the wok, add 2 tbl spn oil and fry the fish head till golden. Remove and break them in parts with your spatula and keep aside.


In a heated wok add remaining 3tbl spn oil, cumin seeds, dry chili and bay leaf. As cumin seeds start crackling, add onion paste and seasoning. Fry over low heat till browned. Add ginger garlic paste and fry for sometime. Then add pureed tomato, chili powder, coriander and cumin powder and fry till you observe oil on the surface.

Add the fried fish head pieces in the spices, sprinkle water and fry for 1 minute. Now add the boiled lentil and mix with the spices and fish head. Add water if needed and boil for 5 minutes over low heat.

Remove from heat and add ground cinnamon-cardamom- cloves paste and ghee (clarified butter) on top. Cover for 5 minutes to infuse the flavour.

Your machher mathar dal is ready to be served with steamed rice.


This is a very traditional bengali recipe and I hope all the fish lovers out there will give it a try. If there are any dishes that are close to your heart and you’d like to know an easy and quick recipe for it, do leave the name in the comment box and I’ll be back with the recipe.

Hope you all have a great week. Happy cooking 🙂

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