Rui Maacher Matha Diye Moong Dal (Mung Dal with Rohu/Carp Fish Head

I know many people will shiver when I say have you tried fish head? All the succulent goodness of the ‘ghilu’ (the brains- yeah I know) mixed into the Dal and the fried broken bones lend an enormous amount of flavor to this dish. It is a quintessentially Bengali dish. There is a popular saying that Bengalis are brainy because they eat fish so much. Now I’m sure many other people are intelligent too but there’s no doubt that fish, whether you eat an actual fish or in capsule form as fish oil, has been known to be high in omega 3 fatty acids. Fish bones, brains, cartilage and fat are nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin A, iron, zinc as well as calcium. It protects against heart disease. Being one of the most flavorful parts of the fish, fish heads are used in other world cuisines in cultures around the world too for curries, soups, stews and stocks.

It is slightly tricky to cook fish heads. Fair warning, you will have a bit of a messy kitchen while frying the fish. Be careful of white kitchen countertops especially – speaking from experience! The fat in the fish head has a tendency to splatter everywhere so I cook the fish in the back burner and keep a medium flame. Cover the pan occasionally to avoid too much mess! Its worth buying a fish just so you can taste the head. Yes, I just said that. More importantly is the trouble worth it? Heck yes!!! @sarchakra

PREP TIME: 20 mins

COOK TIME: 30 mins



  • Moong Dal 1 cup
  • Rohu fish head plus tail and small pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • Turmeric 3 tsp
  • Onion 1, thinly sliced
  • Ginger 1 tbsp
  • Sugar 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaf 2
  • Cloves 4-5
  • Dry red chilies 2
  • Green cardamom 3
  • Cinnamon 1 -2 inches
  • Cumin seeds 2 tsp
  • Mustard oil 4 tbsp
  • Ghee 1 tbsp
  • Roasted Cumin powder 2 tsp
  • Red chili powder 2 tsp
  • Green chilies 4-5
  • Bengali Garam masala powder 2 tsp


  • Dry roast Moong Dal on a gentle flame for 2-3 mins till aromatic and golden. Take care not to burn. Cool. Rinse.
  • Add rinsed dal back into the pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water. Season with salt and turmeric. Cook for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release by itself.
  • While the Dal is cooking, prepare the fish. Rub salt and turmeric on the fish. Heat 2 tbsp of mustard oil in a pan. Fry the fish till golden on all sides. Drain and keep aside.
  • Heat the rest is the mustard oil in a large pan.
  • Add bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom and dry red chilies. Cook for a few seconds till aromatic.
  • Add the thinly sliced onion. Fry the onion till it starts to caramelize. Add the fried fish into the pan. Add in the grated ginger and the cooked Dal. Pour in 2 cups of water.
  • Check the seasoning and add more slat if needed. Add sugar. Use a masher to break the fish. Add whole green chilies. Add red chili powder, roasted cumin powder and Bengali Garam masala powder. Simmer the mixture for 10 mins.
  • Add ghee. Stir into the dal. Serve with rice.

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Rui Maacher Matha Diye Dal served with Rice, Niramish Dal and Mushrooms

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