Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rui Maach Bhaja / How to fry Rohu fish
 It happens every year. Year after year. 
And it has happened again.
Every year .... when I'm blogging, I'll discount the numerous days when I'm not ... I see bloggers all over  celebrating their blog's b'day.
They bake awesome cakes.
Or make Biryanis.
Or some such exotic things that I may never get to cook ... much less taste.
They organise events and giveaways.
And the whole blogging world celebrates with them.
Their blog gets good wishes and love. And the blogger gets kudos for being able to keep going for so long ... etc. etc.
And I promise myself ... next year I'll celebrate Kichu Khonn's b'day ... for sure.
I even think up a write and also what I'll cook.
Chicken? No ... it has to be something special. Mutton. Or prawns.
And I'll bake something too.
And sit back smugly ... happy with my scheme.
And watch the year flow by.
And then one fine day I sit up with a jolt. "What date is today??????"
And there it will be ... a date way past the b'day date.
And I'm filled with remorse .... for having let Kichu Khonn down ... all over again.
 This year is no different. I realised yesterday that I've repeated the heinous crime. 
I said a quiet 'sorry'. Kichu Khonn replied a quiet ' it's alright'.
But I still couldn't write a post.
Today, I finally gathered myself and sat down to write a post.

Considering I haven't clicked too many photographs recently, I had to decide on my old photos.
And saw this fried fish photographs.
What pushed me to make a post on this is 3 different emails and a few search lines that I got to see over the past few months.
For a 'new to cooking' Bengali, making the maacher jhol is the first most important test in the kitchen.
But even before that, s/he has to fry the fish first.
And that can be quite a challenge.
Yes, even if you have that non stick kadahi.

A comment said "I tried to make macher jhol but the fish broke when I was frying it. Can you tell me how to fry it properly?"
The emails asked for the same thing ... "Why did the fish break when frying?"
The search lines say " How to fry Rohu fish without breaking"

In all these questions, I heard that plaintive cry many years back .... "Didi, all the fish broke and have stuck to the kadahi. The mess wouldn't come off and the kadahi is all brown  .... what do I do?"

I had my cousin to my rescue. Many people turn to the internet for help.
Something that most of us take for granted can be extremely complicated for newbies in the kitchen.
Hence, this post is for all those struggling to fry the Rohu or the Katla fish  to make that jhol or kalia.

If you are buying the fish ... keep the following in mind.

Firstly, something that I've always said in my answers , the fish has to be fresh.
I mean as fresh as a frozen fish can be since we do not get freshly caught fish these days.
So, to get an idea on how fresh a fish is ... always look at the eye of the fish.
It should be bright and not dull / pale and whitish in colour.
Secondly ... the body of the fish should be firm. When pressed with a finger, it should not get a dimple.
Thirdly ... when cut, there should be enough blood. Sounds gross ... but that is the best way to know if a fish is fresh or not.

Get the fish cut into your preferred pieces ... the peti or the gada.

The peti has thicker and less bones that are easy to pick.
It is usually used in simple jhols/curries. Children usually get this piece on their plates as it is easy to deal with.

The gada will have finer and more bones. 
It is mostly used in jhaals, kalias ... the spicy dishes that usually are not served to very small children.
It is also used in jhols.
Or into plain rings like my photos show, which will have a combination of both the peti and gada parts.

Now to the frying part.

Need :

Pieces of the Rohu or Kaatla fish - cut and washed well
Turmeric powder
Mustard oil
Lemon juice (optional ... but helps in reducing the smell of raw fish)

How to :

Marinate the fish pieces with the salt, turmeric and lemon juice and keep aside.
Do not keep the marinated fish for more than half an hour ... maximum of an hour.
If needed to keep longer, keep it in the refrigerator.

Take a heavy bottomed kadahi ... preferably a cast iron one.
Many would prefer to use a non stick one ... no problem with that.
 I use a flat bottomed non stick pan to reheat the already fried pieces.

Sit the kadahi on low flame and heat it well.
 Now add around 5 tbsp of mustard oil and spread it all over with the help of a spatula.
The sides of the inside of the kadahi should get coated well with the oil.
(Do not use a wooden spatula ... a steel one works best with an iron kadahi).

On low heat, let the oil heat till you can smoke from it.
With the spatula, gently smear the heated oil on the sides on the inside of the kadahi  again.
Now the kadahi is properly seasoned and will work as a non stick.

Now raise heat.
Holding a cover with one hand ready, pick a piece of the marinated fish and gently slide it into the hot oil and immediately cover it.
Be very careful ... the hot oil will splutter ... so use the cover to shield yourself.

Do not add more than 2 or 3 pieces at a time .... the fish will stick to each other and will be very difficult to separate and turn them later.

Now raise heat and let it fry for around 2 minutes.

Lower heat, remove cover and very carefully and gently turn the pieces over.
Cover and let it cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove cover, raise heat to medium and  gently bring one piece to the side of the kadahi and hold for a while for the extra oil to drain.
Remove all the pieces likewise and keep on aside.

For the next batch, let the remaining oil heat a little more. Or if you need you can add more oil.
Remove any leftover residue from the first batch with the spatula .... the oil should be debri free.
Continue in the same way for the rest of the fish pieces.

If you want a crispy fry to eat as a plain bhaja, you can keep the fish in the kadahi for some more time after removing the cover ... till one side turns dark brown. Turn it over and brown the other side too.

When frying the mudo / muro / fish head, be extra careful as it will splutter a lot.
Keep it covered when frying, at all times.
Fry the inside part lightly so as not to burn the soft meat.

You can fry small fish also the same way.
So here's the Maach bhaja ... hope this helps all of you who have been struggling to make it. 

Use the fried pieces to make a plain jhol, the kalia jhol or the jhaal.
( Recipe links at the bottom of this post.)

Or eat it  plain as a side with rice and dal.

I love it crispy and fresh off the kadahi with some onions and green chillies.

And thank you everybody for staying with Kichu Khonn and for your encouragement and love.
Thank you everybody who care to take time and leave comments here.
Also a thank you to those who don't, yet have landed on my blog and found it useful.

A special thanks to all my blogger friends who have stood by me and Kichu Khonn ... through thick and thin. It is for you that Kichu Khonn gets to see a b'day every year.
Thank you all!!!

Here's a list of Macher jhol or Macher jhal that you can make with this fried fish 

Rui macher kalia jhol 

Rui macher patla jhol 

Rui macher jhol dhone pata ar winter er sobji diye

Shorshe Rui  / Rui macher jhaal

Shorshe Katla bhaape 


  1. This is an item in which I can claim as an expert myself. There are so many people out here who can justify this claim :)

    Frankly I do love Rui Maach Bhaja :)

    1. That's great Mr.Vats!
      And such lucky people. :-)

  2. Wow such an informative post ... Thanks for such a detailed description

  3. Hey nice post... Today I am having some bengali guests over so I decided to do something with rui.. thanks for the easy recipe...


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