Thick, rich, aromatic Bengali style Moog Dal along with the dominant presence of the fish head; Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal has always reminded me the newly-wed Bengali bride! Yes, you read it right, it has always reminded me the confused bride on the next day of marriage at the inlaws 🙂 . Her confusion; numbness yet her pure beauty; has reminded me the Macher Muro diye Dal, always. The bride to be(s) or those who are already blessed with the marital bliss, if reading this post, may want to kill me! I, after all, am comparing them with a bowl full of Dal that too cooked with the fish head 😛 ! This probably is the reason when I was drawing the plan before clicking the picture; I decided to include some vibrant colors to the pictures.
You may ask, why this weird comparison and if you not even, I am going to elaborate 😀 . Dal is a regular staple in Bengali households, however, in comforting forms. We don’t eat Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal on regular basis. This is something special and meant for the special occasions or at least Sundays. However, we cook it when all of a sudden we ended on buying a whole fish and need to utilize the Fish head aka Muro properly. Isn’t it the newlywed bride to us, on the next day of marriage. She is special, new to the home yet a member of the household from that very day and that makes her the comforting companion.
I have missed that particular day in my marriage. It was court marriage and a small affair with only me, Mehebub and a few friends on the day of our marriage. I have opted for an old Saree of my mother to just to feel her. The very next day we both started for our separate work locations in different cities after informing the families. Hence no next day of knowing the family or wearing the Red Saree was there for me 🙂 . Well, no dissatisfaction (or a bit of it); no sadness as well but this is how life is! Life actually is as good as the Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal with steamed rice! Touch wood!
I think I am done with the Dal and Bride philosophy. Now for sure is time to write the reality. Well, before going further with the recipe of Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal here is what this is actually. A signature Bengali delicacy, Mug Dal, in fact, cooked with the Fish head is Macher Muro diye Dal to you.
Now the question is why fishhead and why with Dal? Well, it tastes amazingly good and no more reason is required to cook Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal I suppose. We Bongs can eat our portion of Fish in any and every form. Fishhead or other body organs of fish are used widely in Bengali cuisine. Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal aka Moong Dal with Fishhead is a signature Bengali dish prepared with fishhead apart from several other dishes such as Macher Teler chorchori, Muri Ghonto etc.
Which Fishhead to use? Whichever available; simple! Though the head of big-sized (around 2-3 Kg fish) Katla or Rohu (Rui Mach) works well. In this recipe, I have used the head of a 2.5 Kg Rui Mach aka Rohu Fish.
What about Bhaja Mug Dal? You can use other Dal as well. However, it is Shona Mug Dal aka Yellow split Lentil or Dhuli Moong dal that makes the recipe perfect. Here, though, “Bhaja” stands for dry roasting not fried in oil. We dry-roast the Dal before cooking it and this step is mandatory for making Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal.
- Serves: 4 People
- Serving size: 100g
- Calories: 430
- Fat: 20.6g
- Saturated fat: 4.7g
- Carbohydrates: 47.8g
- Sugar: 9.2g
- Sodium: 847mg
- Fiber: 8.7g
- Protein: 15.8g
- Cholesterol: 22mg
- Fishhead/ Macher Muro: 1 (cut into halves)
- Mug dal/ Yellow Split Lentil/ Dhuli Moong Dal: 150g
- Onion: 2
- Tomato: 2
- Green Chili: 3-4
- Ginger Paste: 1 tbsp.
- Garlic Paste: 1.5 Tbsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 1.5 Tsp.
- Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Cumin Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Bengali Garam Masala Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Sugar: 1 Tbsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Mustard Oil: 3 Tbsp.
- Ghee: 1 Tbsp.
- Red Chili: 1-2
- Bay Leaf: 2
- Cumin Seed: ½ Tsp.
- Clove: 4-5
- Cinnamon Stick: 1"
- Green Cardamom: 2
- Black Cardamom: 1
- Marinade fish-head pieces with ½ Tsp. each of the Turmeric Powder, and Red Chilli Powder and ½ Tsp. of Salt. leave the fish chunks for 15 minutes.
- Cut the onion into thin slices and cut the tomatoes into small pieces.
- Heat Oil in a pan and fry fish-head from both sides in low flame and keep the fried fish head aside.
- Keep the Pan along with the remaining oil as it is.
- Now dry roast Mug Dal/ Dhuli Moong Dal/ Yellow split lentil in a pan keeping the flame low.
- Keep roasting until the lentil emits a nutty aroma.
- Once done, wash the dal thoroughly.
- Now take washed Dal along with ½ Tsp. Turmeric powder and ½ Tsp. Salt in a pressure cooker.
- Add 2 Cups (300ml) of water and cover the pressure cooker with the lid.
- Put the weight and keep cooking on high flame until one whistle comes out.
- Now lower the flame and after 2 more whistles switch the flame off.
- Wait until the pressure drops completely to open the lid of the Pressure cooker.
- Take the pan used for frying the fish head and heat the oil again.
- Temper the oil with Red Chili, Bay Leaf, Cumin Seed, Clove, Cinnamon Stick, Green Cardamom and Black Cardamom.
- Now add sliced onion and fry till the onion turns golden brown in color.
- Add ginger-garlic paste followed by the chopped tomatoes.
- Cook until the raw aroma of the pastes and tomato goes.
- Add Turmeric powder, Kashmiri Red chili powder, Cumin powder, Sugar and mix thoroughly.
- Now open the pressure cooker and add the boiled Dal to the pan having the cooked spices.
- Mix with a ladle.
- Add a cup of water and adjust the salt if required.
- Add fried Fish-head cover the pan with a lid.
- Cook on low flame for around 8-10 minutes.
- Finish the dal with Ghee and Garam Masala.
- Serve Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal hot with steamed rice.
Instead of chopped tomatoes, you can use tomato puree as well. However, Tomato chunks taste better in Dal.
Ghee is optional, however, gives the Dal richness and flavor.
You may substitute Mustard Oil with Vegetable oil or white oil, however, this dish calls for the pungency of Mustard Oil.
I prefer to use the fish head with added flesh to it. Also, I prefer to add big chunks of the fish head instead of smaller pieces while cooking. I break the fish head while serving. You can break the fish head before adding to the Dal as well.
A few more Dal recipes from Debjanir Rannaghar apart from Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal!
- Narkel diye Cholar Dal aka Bengali Cholar Dal
- Pui Saag diye Masoor Dal aka Red Lentil Soup with Malabar Spinach
- Kolai Dala aka Biulir Dal
- Bhaja Moong er Daal aka Sona Muger Dal
- Punjabi Rajma
- Punjabi Chole
Have you tried the Macher Matha diye Bhaja Muger Dal Recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar or can tag me at @foodofdebjani.
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