Macher Matha dea Cholar Dal (Split Bengal Gram with Fish Head)


‘Macher Matha’ or fish head is an essential ingredient in Bong kitchen. ‘Macher Matha dea Bhaja Mooger Dal’ and ‘Muri Ghonto’ are very famous dishes in Bengali cuisine. Baba loves to eat fish head with ‘dal’. So we try to make some variations. This time I cooked ‘Macher Matha dea Cholar Dal’. ‘Cholar Dal’ and ‘Luchi’ combo is integral part of Bong cuisine, where ‘Cholar Dal’ is cooked adding coconut, raisin and cashew. But today I have cooked a no vegetarian version of it. Here goes the recipe …

Ingredients to serve 6

  • Cholar Dal or Split and Husked Bengal Gram – 100 gms
  • Fish Head – 2 (Each cut into halves)
  • Onion – 1 ½ (Big – chopped/paste)
  • Ginger Paste – 1 ½ tsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 ½ tsp
  • Tomato – 1 (Medium – chopped)
  • Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
  • Hing or Asafetida – 2 pinches
  • Bay Leaf – 2
  • Whole Dry Red Chillie – 2
  • Cinnamon – 2” Stick
  • Clove – 2
  • Green Cardamom – 2
  • Turmeric Powder – 1 ½ tsp
  • Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
  • Coriander Powder – ¼ tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp
  • Green Chilli – 2
  • Salt – To taste
  • Sugar – 1 ½ tsp
  • Mustard Oil – 2 Tbsp + frying the fish head
  • Ghee – 2 tsp


  1. Wash and soak Cholar Dal in some water for sometimes and then cook them in a pressure cooker adding a little salt and turmeric powder and 2 ½ cups of water.
  2. Marinate the fish heads with 1 tsp of turmeric powder and some salt.
  3. Heat enough oil to shallow fry the fish heads. Now slide the fish heads slowly in hot oil. (You can cut the fish heads in small pieces. It will help to fry them easily). Fry them till light brown always with a lid on. Keep them aside.
  4. Now heat 2 Tbsp of oil in another kadai or wok. Temper the oil with all the whole masalas and hing.
  5. Add chopped onion and fry till transparent.
  6. Next add garlic paste, ginger paste and chopped tomatoes. Fry till oil separates.
  7. Now add all the dry masalas and the fried fish heads. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add salt and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes in medium heat.
  9. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well.
  10. Add sugar, green chillis and cook for another 5 minutes on low-medium heat.
  11. Drizzle some ghee on top. ‘Macher Matha dea Cholar Dal’ is ready to be served with steamed rice.


~ Always fry the fish heads with a lid on.

~ Do not use the remaining oil after frying the fish heads for cooking the dal.


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