Bengali Fish in Yogurt Sauce

clip_image002Recently I learned that some in the West believe fish and yogurt to be a poisonous combination. Fortunately no one informed the people of Bengal, who proudly call themselves Bongs, otherwise we would not have this lovely dish, known in the local language as Doi Maach. In India or Bangladesh it is often made with rohu, a variety of carp common in the Ganges delta. Not having any rohu I used haddock but any firm, non-oily, white fish would do. Serve it hot with plain basmati or other long grain white rice.

I adapted this recipe from one published at



Firm white fish

1 pound

500 grams

Onion (1 medium)

3 ounces

85 grams

Plain Greek yogurt

1 cup

250 grams

Ginger paste

1 tablespoon

15 milliliters

Garlic paste

1 tablespoon

15 milliliters

Turmeric powder

½ teaspoon

2½ milliliters

Indian chili powder (mirch) or cayenne

½ teaspoon

2½ milliliters

Corn starch (see note)

1 teaspoon

5 milliliters

Mustard oil (preferred) or substitute

2 tablespoons

30 milliliters

Whole cloves



Whole black peppercorns



Whole green cardamoms



Cinnamon stick

1-inch piece

25 mm piece

Bay leaf, preferably Indian

1 medium

1 medium

Onion, finely chopped

4 ounces

120 grams


to taste

to taste


Cut the fish into 1-inch (25 mm) cubes. Puree the onion to a paste in a food processor or blender. Combine the yogurt, onion paste, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, chili powder, and corn starch. (Note: the corn starch will help non-fat or low-fat yogurt from separating.) Add the fish to the mixture and mix in gently. Marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or two.  

Place a skillet large enough to hold the fish and marinade over medium heat. When hot add the oil then the whole spices, i.e. cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped onion and sauté until starting to color, about 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool for a minute or two. Turn in the fish and marinade, folding gently to combine with the spices and onion. Return to low heat and simmer until the fish is done and the marinade has turned golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.


One response to “Bengali Fish in Yogurt Sauce

  1. Karen November 28, 2011 at 09:12

    The yogurt sauce makes for an outstanding flavor with the fish…I’m sure.

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