Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal is a popular Bengali dish that combines moong dal (lentil) with fish head and spices. The dish is also known as Macher muro diye muger dal. Muro means "fish head" in Bengali.
Dal is a staple in most Indian households. It is no different in Bengal too. The dal dishes in India vary from state to state and are all delectable.
You can add varieties of vegetables, leafy greens to the dal. Sometimes the dal contains meat.
As you are probably aware, Bengalis prefer fish. They also love to add fish in their curries as well as in dal. I firmly believe that is how the dal with fish head recipe originated years ago. There are numerous other Bengali curries that include fish head, such as chachra, muri ghonto, pui shak ghonto to name a few.
Macher matha diye muger dal is a popular dish on the kajer bari (various occasions like wedding day, rice feeding ceremony, and many more) menu.
If you are a fish lover and enjoy eating fish head, then you must try this macher muro diye dal with plain rice.
Moong Dal: The primary ingredient of this dish is moong dal or petite yellow lentils. It is advised to use the finest quality sona muger dal, which is smaller in size, of superior quality, and aromatic in nature.
Fish Head: I prefer to use fish head of Rohu or Catla.
Oil & Ghee: For Bengali recipes I always use mustard oil and this recipe calls for ghee or clarified butter at the end.
Spice Powders: Turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder.
Whole Spices: Cinnamon stick, cardamom, clove, bay leaf, dry red chilli.
Others: Onion, ginger paste, tomato, green chilli, salt, etc.
How to Cook Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal
Use salt and turmeric powder to marinate fish head.
In a bowl, combine the turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, and garam masala powder with a little water to make a paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, dry roast the moong dal until it turns a light brown and becomes fragrant.
Later, wash the dal and pressure cook it in a pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles with bay leaf, salt, and turmeric powder.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a wok and fry the fish head until golden brown, then set aside.
In the remaining oil, add the whole garam masala, dried red chilli, and cumin seeds.
Now add chopped onion and cook until transparent. Then, add the ginger paste and mix well.
Then, add the chopped tomatoes and green chilies and cook until the raw tomato smell goes away.
Add the spice powder paste now and combine thoroughly. Mix in the boiled dal with the spice mixture.
Add 11/2-2 cups of water at this point, along with the fried fish heads. Allow the dal to boil for 5-10 minutes before turning off the heat and topping with ghee.
If you prefer nutty flavor, you can add grated coconut at the end. Some people enhance the dal's flavor by adding fried cashew nuts and raisins.
You can store the leftover dal in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat the dal either in microwave or on stove top.
- To avoid burning the dal, keep the flame low while dry roasting it.
- Don't overcook the dal. Always boil the dal while keeping the grains whole. If you are using pressure cooker do not allow more than 2-3 whistles. You can also boil dal in a vessel covering it with a lid.
Normally, the fish head from rohu or catla (katla) works well for this recipe. During monsoon when you get plenty of Hilsa, you can use that as well. We get 1kg to 1.5kg Rohu and a slightly larger size of catla (around 2kgs) here. Fish heads from this size fish are ideal for the dish.
Dry roasting of moong dal makes it more aromatic and flavorful. You should dry roast the dal while continuous stirring it until it slightly changes the color and turn light brown. Dry roasting the moong dal which we call bhaja muger dal.
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Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal
- 1 no Fish Head cut into halves
- 1 cup Moong Dal
- 1 no Onion, medium chopped
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
- 1 no Tomato, small chopped
- 1½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
- 2 no Green Chilli
- 1 no Dry Red Chilli
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 1-2 no Cardamom
- 1-2 no Clove
- 1 no Bay Leaf
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup Mustard Oil
- 2 teaspoon Ghee
- Marinate fish head with turmeric powder and salt.
- Take turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder in a bowl and add little water to make a paste and keep aside.
- Meanwhile, dry roast moong dal until the color changes to slight brown and fragrant.
- Later, wash the dal and pressure cook it for 2-3 whistles in a pressure cooker with bay leaf, salt, and turmeric powder.
- On the other hand, heat oil in a wok and fry the fish head till golden brown and keep aside.
- Add whole garam masala, dry red chilli, and cumin seeds in the remaining oil.
- Now add chopped onion and cook until transparent.
- Next add ginger paste and combine well.
- After that, add chopped tomatoes and green chilli and cook until the raw smell of tomato disappears.
- Now add the spice powder paste and mix well.
- Add boiled dal into spice mixture and give a good mix.
- At this point, add 1½-2 cups of water and add fried fish heads.
- Allow the dal to boil for 5-10 minutes and later switch off the gas and top with ghee.
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