Punti Jhaal- Spicy Freshwater Fish

Another version of cooking Fresh Water Fish. This time it is spicy not soupy. Puti Mach is a fresh water fish. They are generally 3-4” long and has  scales on its body. It has tiny bones alongside the belly. It has small pointed head. These fishes are generally consumed whole alongwith head. Bones are chewed and thrown after sucking the juice.

These fishes has much more nutritional value than big fishes whether river fish or sea fish.  Moreover its said that small indigenous fishes which are consumed whole with head and bones provide a great source of micronutrients and essential fatty acids. This is vital for rapid growth young children and plays an important role in the brain development.

For retaining the nutritional value it is important not to overcook, or cook with leass spices. But here I am sharing a recipe which is spicy. great in taste.



  1. Puti/Any freshwater Fish- 250gms
  2. Onion slice- 1 cup
  3. Green Chili-2-3
  4. Cumin powder- ½ tspn
  5. Coriander powder- ½ tspn
  6. Turmeric Powder- 2 tspn
  7. Red chili powder- ½ tspn
  8. Kalonji/Nigella seeds- ½ tspn
  9. Whole dry red chili-1
  10. Salt- 2 tspn/to taste
  11. Mustard powder/paste- 1 tspn(thinned with 2 tblspn water)
  12. Oil preferably mustard- 3 tblspn
  13. Chopped coriander- 2 tblspn
  14. Water- ½ cup or more as per required consistency


In our local market we get fresh supply and the vendors de scale and clean the belly  and the head in front of us. So it has to be dipped in water and clean all dirts from body, the belly and remove fins. Fins are bitter in taste and has river  particles.  Repeat it for 2-3 times till you get clean white fish. Fro Frozen fishes just thaw it.


Now marinate the fishes with  ½ of salt and turmeric. 5-10 mins are enough.


In a flat based pan pour 2 tblspn oil. Heat it to the smoking point. Reduce the flame and put the fish in the pan. Arrange it straight  so that they do not overlap. It needs to be crispy fried so it may take 4-5 mis per side. Flip and fry till brown and the skin is crispy. Take out from pan and keep aside.


In the same pan pour remaining oil. Add kalonji and dry red chili. When it pops add the onion slice. Stir fry till they are translucent and lightly browned.

Add all dry masalas one by one except salt. Stir fry the masala with onion for 2-3 mins till moisture dries and oil in seen on the surface.

Add fried fish. Stir so that the masalas are well quoted with fish. Add water. Just water is added to wet the fish with masala. Check the salt level and add accordingly.


Cover with a lid and cook in low flame for 2-3 mins.Uncover and pour the mustard paste. Give a nice stir . Fishes are already cooked while frying so it takes hardly any time to amalgamate all the spices with fish.


 The fishes has become moist so switch of the stove and add slitted green chili and chopped coriander leaves.

Crunchy fried flesh with spices are extremely delicious.

Enjoy with steamed rice.


  1. It can be cooked light as stew like Pabda Macher Jhol. Just omit onion and mustard paste. Make a thin curry which is delicious and healthier version too.
  2. It is hard fried so that the bones become crispy and easier to chew.

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Reach me: cookwithreena2017@gmail.com


5 Comments Add yours

  1. looks delicious! are from Odisha?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Am Bengali, stay in Delhi.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol says:

    Love the sound of this dish, Reena 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It spicy and chili based. Ha Ha Ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Carol says:

        Just how I love it!

        Liked by 1 person

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