Cooking Small Fish (Chuno Mach): Things to Know

Chuno Mach includes a larger variety of small fishes though small puti and mourala are predominantly popular. Chanda fish and piyali fish also come under this category.

Puti is a small water fish. They are hardly 3-4 inches long and have their body fully covered with scales. Usually small fishes are not cut into pieces and consumed whole, with head and bones chewed to suck juice and then thrown.

Piyali fish is mostly found in North Bengal. Uttar Pradesh also gets plenty of piyali fish. Their body is covered with soft, small scales.

Cooking small fish

Use of Chuno Mach (Small Fish) in Bengali Cuisines

Crispy, crunchy chuno mach fries are one of the most favourites with many Bengalis. In this category, mourala mach bhaja is a top favourite with them.

These small fried fishes go well with steamed rice and pink lentils. Chuno macher jhal is a spicy dish in Bengal. It is prepared with different vegetables such as potato, onion stems, eggplant etc.

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Tomatoes are added for tanginess and common spices such as, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder etc are used to prepare the gravy.

Some Bengalis use mustard paste for spicier flavour. The dish is served after the gravy dries. It goes perfectly with boiled rice. Simple but Scrumptious Combination!

Bengalis are notoriously fusion-crazy. They also love experimenting with their foods. As a part of their traditional culinary cultures, they often marry fishes to veg items.

One such fusion food comes in the form of chuno macher pui metuli. Potatoes, onion slices, pui shank (Malabar Spinach) and commonly used spices go into preparation of the dish.

Sometimes seasonal vegetables such as cauliflower florets are also used to cook the dish.

Chuno macher tak is a signature dish in Bengal. The dish is prepared with fried chuno fishes and tamarind. This dish is usually consumed after a meal.

In other parts of India, where chuno mach is available and cooked, a variety of spicy dishes are prepared to keep foodies, especially mach-maddies gastronomically satisfied.

However, the yummiest chuna fish preparations are still done at Bengalis’ kitchens and not at restaurants.

Is Chuno Mach (Small Fish) Tasty?

Chuno mach has different varieties as mentioned earlier. Each of them has a distinct taste.

However, most Bengalis will tell you that chuna fish is really awesome to taste. Whether you are frying them crisp or cooking for spicy preparations, all these taste truly heavenly.

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Whereas fried chuna fish can be eaten both as snacks and with rice, chochori or jhal makes the tastiest combination with rice.

How to Make Chuno Mach (Small Fish) Taste Good?

Cooking chuno fish is very simple. Just marinate them with a little bit of salt and turmeric powder.

Whatever you are preparing with chuno mach – chuno mach bhaja, chuno macher jhal or chuno macher pui metuli – make sure to fry the fishes in mustard oil.

It brings the best flavours out of them. For fried fishes, fry chuno mach golden brown on medium heat.

They should look and taste crunchy on the surface and feel properly boiled inside.

For other preparations, fry the fishes light brown and slide them into the gravy when it is boiling.

To prepare tak, you need to fry the fishes well and boil for an extended time so that they soak the flavours of tamarind inside.

How Long Does Chuno Mach (Small Fish) Take to Cook?

It depends on the size and amount of your chuno fish.

This is because, whatever dish you are preparing, you need to fry the fish and it will take time to do the job if there is a larger amount of fish.

However, for 10-15 cups of puti mach or 250gm of mourala mach, it won’t take more than 20-25 minutes to cook a fish curry.

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You can easily calculate the time needed to fry the fish.

How to Know When Chuno Mach (Small Fish) is Cooked?

If you are cooking curry, the fish should look bloated after they are done.

As chuna fishes are not fleshy, you should not try to twist a piece of flesh off their body to check if or not they are properly cooked.

Just prick them with a fork and you will immediately know if they need cooking a little longer or are already done.

In the case of chuno mach bhaja, the dark golden colour is an indication that they are ready to serve.

Questions & Answers:

What Are the Best Recipes of Chuno Mach (Small Fish)?

The best Bengali chuna mach recipes have already been mentioned. These include fries, jhal, chochori etc.

Which Part of Chuno Mach (Small Fish) is Best?

Chuno mach is neither defined nor cut into pieces; it is consumed with bones. However, the scales are removed before they are marinated and cooked. They don’t have much flesh in their head.

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