Bengali fish curry

Try this recipe for dahi manchh, a mild creamy fish curry popular in East India
By Cyrus Todiwala
Bengali fish curry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 1-2 hours marinating
  • Effort: easy


For the marinade

  • 250 g thick yogurt
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 x 2in piece root ginger
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground red chillies

For the fish

  • 500 g Arctic char, or other firm fish
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp virgin rapeseed oil
  • 1 x 2in piece cassia bark
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • splashes fish stock
  • 1 tbsp hot English mustard powder, mixed with water to form a thin, smooth paste
  • 1-2 tsp sugar, to taste
  • steamed basmati rice, to serve


1. For the marinade: place all of the paste ingredients into a food processor and blend to a smooth purée.

2. For the fish: rub the fish with the turmeric and salt and set aside for a few minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, then pour over the marinade and mix well to coat the fish in the mixture. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

3. When ready to cook, remove the fish from the marinade, wiping off any excess with kitchen paper. Set aside, reserving the marinade.

4. Heat the rapeseed oil in a medium pan until smoking, then add the cassia bark, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and peppercorns. Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until the spices are aromatic and the cardamom has changed colour (keep face and eyes well clear from the pan, as the spices may pop in the heat).

5. Add the onions and gently fry over a medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until softened and golden-brown.

6. Add the fish and fry for 1-2 minutes on all sides, or until golden-brown all over, then pour in the reserved marinade along with a splash of fish stock and the mustard paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then season to taste with sugar and salt. Simmer for a further 1-2 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Leave the fish to cook in the residual heat for 4-5 minutes.

7. To serve, spoon the fish curry over steamed rice.

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