7 Fish Varieties That Are Popular In Bengali Cuisine
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Bengali cuisine means the perfect blend of flavours with emphasis on simple, fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. The cuisine majorly celebrates nature's fresh produce and utilisation of ingredients available locally. Similarly one such ingredient that Bengal is famous for is it's variety of fish, from fishes from sea to freshwater the options are wide and the preparations. 

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The distinctive flavours of Bengali cuisine are further enhanced by the skilful use of spices and condiments, with mustard, nigella seeds, and panch phoron (a blend of five spices) being ubiquitous in Bengali kitchens. From humble households to lavish feasts, fish finds its way into myriad preparations, each reflecting the culinary ingenuity of Bengali cooks.


Ilish also known as “King of Fish”, in the Bengali cuisine is Bengali's pride. The title it enjoys is because it's rich, fish oil, smooth texture, and unique flavour. Popular Bengali dishes that showcase Ilish or Hilsa are Ilish Bhapa, Ilish Macher Paturi, Shorshe Ilish and so on. Each dish has its own distinctive flavour and experience. One while cooking with Ilish, has to be careful about not incorporating heavy aromatics like ginger, garlic etc because it might interfere with the delicate flavour of hilsa


Rui, a staple in Bengali cuisine, is a freshwater fish cherished for its delicate texture and mild flavour. Popular dishes like "Rui Maacher Jhol'' feature tender pieces of Rui cooked in a savoury gravy with potatoes and spices like cumin, turmeric, and ginger. Another favourite is "Rui Bhapa," where the fish is marinated in mustard paste and steamed to perfection. These dishes showcase the rich flavours of Bengali cuisine, highlighting the region's love for seafood and aromatic spices.


Bhetki is a very delicate fish with a subtle fishy kind of strong flavour or smell. It is mostly consumed in fillet form, where there are no bones and can be relished at its maximum taste without any hindrance. A common dish that is prepared with bhetki is bhetki paturi, where the fillets are marinated in a blend of coconut, mustard, and other spices and cooked in a banana leaf wrap. Then there is bhetki bhapa too which uses the steaming process to encompass all the flavours and texture in the dish. 


Chingri, also known as prawn or shrimp, features prominently in various dishes. Bengali delicacies like Chingri Macher Malai Curry, a creamy coconut-based curry, highlight its succulent texture and subtle sweetness. Another favourite, Chingri Bhapa, involves steaming the prawns with mustard paste, coconut, and spices for a rich, aromatic taste. Whether stir-fried, grilled, or cooked in fragrant sauces, Chingri dishes showcase the essence of Bengali gastronomy.


Pabda, a staple in Bengali cuisine, is a freshwater fish renowned for its delicate flavour and tender texture. Commonly prepared in a myriad of dishes, it shines in curries like Pabda Shorshe, a mustard-based dish, where its mild sweetness pairs exquisitely with the tang of mustard and spices. Another beloved dish is Pabda Macher Jhol, a light stew seasoned with turmeric, ginger, and green chillies.


Chitol, a prized fish in Bengali cuisine, boasts a delicate flavour and firm texture. Often featured in celebratory feasts, it's versatile in preparation. "Chitol Maacher Muitha," minced fish dumplings in a spicy gravy, showcases its richness. "Chitol Maacher Kalia," a robust curry with potatoes and spices, highlights its succulence. Marinated in mustard paste and spices, "Chitol Maacher Peti" is another popular dish. Whether fried, steamed, or in curries, Chitol's subtle sweetness and ability to absorb flavours make it a culinary gem in Bengali kitchens.


Aar is a very common fish in Bengali cuisine and it is mostly preferred by those who are too afraid of the prickly bones and picking out one by one is hectic for them. This fish is loved by many due to having bare minimum bones and all big ones so minute sessions of picking bones are required. There are various dishes like Aar Macher Jhol to Aar Macher Tel Jhal and also Aar Macher kalia, the variety is huge and this the popularity among Bengali people.