Katla Machha Jholo – Fresh water carp with nigella infused tomato gravy

27 February 2016

Katla Machha JholoGoing to the fish market is never a chore for me, thanks to my father who made me a part of all those Sundays when he went on a fish buying spree. Being in the army made us change towns often but with every new city we moved to, we looked forward to go around hunting for the best fish available. A lot of hits and misses happened till Papa settled for his favorite fish guy. We just moved cities and one of my first posts in a forum on Facebook was “Where can I get good fish?” and with each new suggestion I went around Pune looking for the best fish that I could get. A visit to a fish market, although a smelly and a noisy experience can be worthwhile especially for fish lovers. Being an Odia, I love the hustle bustle, aroma and the chaos of a fish market but for my Punjabi husband, the opposite holds true. But he eats fish with as much gusto as me…

So during one of my fish hunt stints, I bought 2 kg of Katla fish (fresh water carp) yeah yeah I just got plain greedy. Keeping some aside for soriso machha (Fish in mustard gravy) I made this easy fish curry that I make when I am super pressed for time. This nigella infused tomato gravy is soul food for me, with the classic combination of fish and potatoes


  • 8 pieces of fish
  • 3 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ tsp. nigella seeds (Kalonji)
  • 1 cup of fresh tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 big potato sliced lengthwise
  • 1 ½ cup of water
  • A fistful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Mustard oil to fry fish
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash the fish properly and pat dry. Marinate the fish with 1 tbsp. of mustard oil, 2 tsp. turmeric powder, 1 tsp. salt and red chilli powder. Keep aside for half an hour
  • Heat mustard oil in a wok till its smoky and fry the fish in oil till its golden brown on both sides
  • Keep aside the fried fish and now get on to make the gravy
  • Take about 4 tbsp. of mustard oil in a wok and heat till its smoking hot, now temper the oil with nigella seeds and green chilies. After this add the fresh tomato paste and cook till this raw smell of tomato goes away and the masala starts leaving oil.
  • Now add freshly grated ginger and sauté for a minute followed by a pinch 1 tsp. of turmeric powder, sliced potatoes and salt
  • After the potatoes are half cooked add water to the wok and let the gravy come to a boil.
  • Once the gravy comes to a boil add the fried fish pieces, let the fish simmer in the gravy for about 5 minutes on a low flame
  • Add a fistful of fresh coriander leaves, cook for a minute more and then you are done.
  • This gravy is very light and best enjoyed with rice and a dollop of ghee…