Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Experience the essence of Bengali cuisine with “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal.”

This traditional dish beautifully blends marinated fish heads, aromatic spices, and tender lentils.

Balancing flavors to perfection, this recipe celebrates the rich heritage of Bengali flavors.

Let’s dive into the recipe details.

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal

Key Takeaways

  • Bengali Fusion Delight: “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal” blends fish heads, spices, and lentils, celebrating Bengali flavors.
  • Cooking Tips: Ensure thorough marination for fish flavor infusion and gentle lentil roasting to retain aroma.
  • Taste Profile: Offers a balanced mix of savory lentils, delicate fish essence, and aromatic spices.
  • Variation Ideas: Experiment with different fish, lentils, spices, or accompaniments to personalize the dish while keeping its essence.

The Ingredients:

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Ingredients

How to Cook Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal (Step by Step Images)?

1. Marinate the fish heads with ½ tbsp of salt and ½ tbsp of turmeric powder, ensuring that all the pieces are evenly coated. Allow them to marinate for 15 minutes.

Marinating Katla fish head

2. Dry roast the moong dal or yellow lentils lightly over medium heat until they turn light brown in color. Turn off the flame when you notice the lentils have acquired a brown tinge and are emitting a pleasant aroma.

(Expert tip: Do not over-fry the dal, as it might not boil easily.)

Dry roasting the moong dal

3. Now remove the lentils and wash them twice. Then, add the lentils with a little bit of water and turmeric powder to the pressure cooker. Cook them until 1 whistle.

(Expert tip: Do not rinse them excessively; otherwise, the lentils’ aroma will disappear.)

Adding the lentils with a little bit of water and turmeric powder to the pressure cooker

4. Place a wok on the flame and allow it to heat up. Add 3 tbsp of mustard oil to the wok and wait until the oil becomes hot. Carefully place the fish heads into the hot oil and let them fry.

(Expert tip: Add oil according to your preference. Be cautious to prevent hot oil from splattering while adding the fish heads.)

Frying katla fish head

5. Flip the fish heads over and fry both sides until they are slightly crispy. Remove them from the wok and place them on a plate once they are fried.

Flipping the fish heads over and fry both sides

6. Now in the same oil, add cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cardamoms. Stir-fry them lightly. As soon as a nice aroma comes out, add the chopped onions, and lightly fry them.

Adding cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamoms, chopped onions, and lightly frying

7. Next, add the ginger-garlic paste and stir-fry until the raw smell disappears. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Stir well, and then add a little bit of water to cook the spices. Stir thoroughly to combine everything.

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(Expert tip: If you prefer, you can use chopped ginger and garlic instead of paste.)

Adding the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder

8. Add 1 tbsp of salt and mix it well. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix everything. When the spices start releasing oil, add the fried fish heads and mix everything thoroughly.

(Expert tip: If you want, you can take small size fish heads.)

Adding the fried fish heads and mix everything thoroughly.

9. Add the parboiled lentils to the mixture and combine thoroughly. Add hot water for gravy, along with the green chilis and ½ tbsp of salt.

Add the parboiled lentils to the mixture and combine thoroughly. Add hot water for gravy, along with the green chilis and ½ tbsp of salt.

10. Cover the mixture with a lid for 10 minutes.

Covering the mixture with a lid

11. Uncover it occasionally and stir to prevent sticking at the bottom. After 10 minutes, the dish should be almost cooked. Add garam masala and 1 tbsp of ghee, then mix everything thoroughly. Raise the flame and let it come to a boil.

Adding garam masala and ghee, then mix everything thoroughly

12. “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal” is cooked and garnish it with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Garnishing it with freshly chopped coriander leaves

13. Transfer “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal” to a bowl.

Transferring "Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal" to a bowl

Pro Tips for Making Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal

Balanced Marination: Ensure even marination of fish heads with salt and turmeric for at least 15 minutes to infuse flavors thoroughly.

Gentle Dal Roasting: Lightly roast the moong dal to a light brown hue to preserve its taste and aroma, avoiding over-frying that might hinder boiling.

Careful Dal Rinsing: Wash the lentils minimally after roasting to maintain their aromatic essence while cooking.

Oil Temperature for Frying: Heat mustard oil adequately before adding fish heads to prevent sogginess, ensuring a crispy texture.

Layered Spice Addition: Gradually incorporate spices, starting with whole ones like cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom, enhancing flavors step by step.

Optimal Spice Mixture: Blend spices thoroughly with a dash of water for a well-cooked, aromatic masala base.

Monitoring Cooking Time: Keep an eye on the dish while it simmers, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking and ensuring even cooking.

Ghee and Garam Masala Finishing: Add ghee and garam masala towards the end to enrich the dish, allowing the flavors to meld during the final boiling stage.

What to Serve with Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal?

Serving with Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal with rice

Steamed Rice: The perfect accompaniment to “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal,” steamed rice complements the dish’s rich flavors and textures, providing a comforting base for the aromatic blend of fish heads and lentils.

Balanced Contrast: The simplicity of steamed rice allows the flavors of the dal to shine through, creating a harmonious contrast that highlights the robustness of the dish.

Culinary Harmony: The combination of fluffy rice and savory dal exemplifies the essence of Bengali cuisine, offering a wholesome and satisfying meal rooted in tradition.

Additional Side Dishes: Consider serving the dal alongside a fresh salad or lightly sautéed mixed vegetables with traditional spices to add diversity, balance, and a burst of flavors to your meal.

Enhanced Dining Experience: This pairing not only provides a complete Bengali meal experience but also celebrates the rich heritage and taste of the region through a delightful culinary journey.

How Does Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Taste?

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Featured Image

Balanced Savory Notes: The lentils contribute a velvety texture, absorbing the essence of the spices, resulting in a hearty, mildly earthy flavor.

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Distinctive Fish Infusion: The marinated fish heads infuse the dish with a delicate fishiness, offering subtle yet distinct seafood undertones, complementing the spices.

Aromatic Spice Blend: The combination of bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and a medley of powders (turmeric, red chili, coriander, cumin, and Kashmiri red chili) creates a symphony of aromatic notes.

Harmonious Fusion: The marriage of these elements creates a harmonious fusion of savory, tangy, and mildly spicy notes, with a hint of warmth from the garam masala and the richness of ghee.

Overall, “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal” presents a complex yet well-balanced taste profile, emblematic of Bengali cuisine.

The dish’s unique blend of flavors offers a delightful culinary experience, ensuring each bite is a celebration of tradition and taste.

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Alternatives

Fish Variation: Swap the Katla fish heads with other fish types like Rohu or Hilsa to experiment with different flavors and textures while maintaining the essence of the dish.

Lentil Substitution: Explore using other lentils such as masoor dal (red lentils) or chana dal (split chickpea lentils) to create variations in texture and taste.

Spice Blend Experimentation: Modify the spice proportions or introduce additional spices like fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, or mustard seeds to impart unique flavor dimensions.

Vegan Twist: Create a vegan version by substituting fish with vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant, maintaining the same cooking process for a delightful plant-based alternative.

Regional Influences: Explore regional adaptations of the dish by incorporating different local spices or herbs to infuse distinct flavors while staying true to the essence of the recipe.

Texture Enhancement: Experiment with blending a portion of the lentils for a creamier consistency or adding coconut milk for a richer texture, elevating the dish’s overall profile.

Protein Varieties: Consider adding protein-rich elements like boiled eggs or tofu cubes to diversify the dish while complementing the lentils and spices.

Accompaniment Tweaks: Pair the dish with different sides like naan bread, roti, or a variety of rice preparations to explore diverse taste pairings.

Recipe Card

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal Featured Image

Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal

By Mita Mondal
Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal is a Bengali dish blending fish heads, lentils, and spices for a flavorful, traditional delight.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marination 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 383 kcal


  • 500 grams Katla fish head (cut and cleaned)
  • 250 grams Moong dal
  • 1 piece Tomato (chopped)
  • 1 piece Onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 pieces Bay leaves
  • 4 pieces Cardamom
  • 3 pieces Cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tbsp Cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 tbsp Coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 3 pieces Green chili
  • 3 tbsp Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Marinate fish heads evenly with ½ tbsp of salt and turmeric powder, letting them sit for 15 minutes.
  • Lightly dry roast moong dal until it turns light brown, then wash and cook it in a pressure cooker with turmeric and water.
  • Heat mustard oil in a wok and fry fish heads until crispy, then set them aside.
  • In the same oil, sauté cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom, adding onions, ginger-garlic paste, and spices.
  • Mix in tomatoes, fried fish heads, and parboiled lentils, adding water and seasoning.
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, adding garam masala and ghee, then bring it to a boil.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander before serving "Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal" in a bowl.


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Fish Selection: Choose fresh fish heads, preferably Katla, for an authentic taste. You can experiment with different fish varieties to alter the flavor profile.
Marination: Ensure an even coating of salt and turmeric during marination to infuse the fish heads with flavor.
Lentil Preparation: Roast the lentils lightly to enhance their nutty aroma and be mindful not to overcook them to preserve their texture.
Oil Temperature: Heat mustard oil adequately before frying the fish heads to achieve a crispy texture without sogginess.
Spice Incorporation: Gradually add spices in stages to develop a layered and balanced flavor profile.
Ginger-Garlic Paste: While paste works well, you can use finely chopped ginger and garlic for a slightly different texture and taste.
Tomato Integration: Tomatoes provide a tangy undertone; ensure they cook thoroughly to release their flavors.
Gravy Consistency: Adjust the water quantity to achieve the desired gravy consistency; remember, it thickens slightly upon standing.
Simmering: Allow the mixture to simmer covered to meld the flavors together while preventing sticking.
Finishing Touch: Add garam masala and ghee towards the end for a final burst of aroma and richness.
Garnishing: Freshly chopped coriander adds a refreshing touch and complements the dish's flavors when used as a garnish.
Serving: Serve Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal hot, preferably with steamed rice for a complete Bengali culinary experience. Adjust the spice levels according to personal preference.

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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The aromatic blend of marinated fish heads, spices, and lentils creates the delightful dish “Macher Matha Diye Moong Dal”, very popular in Bengali cuisine.

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Careful preparation and expert tips ensure a harmonious fusion of flavors and textures. It is best complimented with steamed rice.

Garnished with fresh coriander, it promises a satisfying culinary experience that celebrates tradition and taste.

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