Bengali Bodi Diye Pabda Jhaal Recipe: An Authentic Fish Curry
Image Credit: Instagram/Bangali_bati

A true hallmark of Bengali cuisine lies in the huge variety of fish curries. As a region packed with flowing rivers and located next to the Bay of Bengal, fish and seafood have always been found in abundance in the region. But what makes fish curries from Bengal stand out is the use of mild spices and homegrown flavours to make each fish curry taste delicious. Pabda Jhaal is a true example of this. 

Pabda, in case you didn’t know, is a freshwater fish known as butter catfish. The fish is packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and is so flavourful that Pabda is even served on special occasions like weddings and feasts. Bengali cuisine, especially West Bengali or Ghoti food, is also known for being mildly spiced. Pabda Jhaal is one such dish and perfect for summer meals, especially when paired with rice and raw mango chutney. 

With balanced flavours, minimal oil usage and mild spices like ginger, cumin, nigella and turmeric, Pabda Jhaal is a lip-smacking dish indeed. What makes the dish even more special in the eyes of Bengalis is the addition of Bodi. Also known as wadi in the rest of India, Bodi is a type of lentil fritter or dumpling that is sundried. While making Pabda Jhaal, the Bodi is fried and added to the curry. 

Video credit: YouTube/Rimli Dey

This addition of Bodi not only makes the Pabda Jhaal more protein-packed, but also adds a slightly crunchy element. The nuanced texture and balanced flavours apart, Pabda Jhaal is also very easy to digest. Want to try this summer staple Bengali favourite Pabda Jhaal for your next meal? Here’s the recipe.  


4 large Pabda fish 

¼ cup Bodi or lentil fritters 

2 green chillies. slit 

1 tsp nigella seeds 

1 tsp red chilli powder 

2 tsp turmeric powder 

2 tsp cumin powder 

1 tsp ginger paste 

1 tsp garam masala 

1.5 tsp sugar 

Salt, to taste 

¼ cup mustard oil 

2 cups water 

Coriander leaves, for garnish 

Image credit: Google Images/foodfoodonlyfood


1. Wash, clean and pat dry the fish. 

2. Add some turmeric powder, salt and mustard oil and rub it all over the fish. 

3. Set the marinated fish aside for half an hour. 

4. Heat mustard oil in a wok or pan. 

5. Once the oil starts smoking, gently drop in the fish. 

6. Pabda cooks very quickly, so cook only until both sides are golden brown, then drain and set aside. 

7. Now, add the bodi to the same hot mustard oil and fry until light brown. 

8. Drain the bodi and set aside. 

9. Now, add the nigella seeds into the oil along with the green chillies. 

10. Once they stop spluttering, add the ginger paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and mix well. 

11. Once the raw smell of the spices disappears, continue stirring and cooking them until the oil separates. 

12. Now add the water, salt and cool for 10 minutes. 

13. Once the gravy is reduced, add the fish one at a time followed by the fried bodi. 

14. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then add garam masala and sugar. 

15. Garnish the fish with chopped coriander and serve hot with hot rice.