Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce) | How to make Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)

By Antara Navin  |  30th Apr 2016  |  
4.5 from 2 reviews Rate It!
  • Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce), How to make Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)
Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)by Antara Navin
  • Prep Time


  • Cook Time


  • Serves





Video for key ingredients

  • How to make Idli/Dosa Batter

About Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce) Recipe

Bhapa Mach means steamed fish where Bhapa depicts for Steaming. In this authentic dish, the fish is steamed in a spicy paste of mustard, yogurt and hot green chillies. Mustard oil is used for an authentic taste and flavor. Traditionally Ilish/Hilsa fish is steam cooked in a tangy mustard sauce. I am outside India and my hunt for Hilsa did not succeed. So I settled for Salmon instead and prepared the curry and it turned out to be really yummy. Here is my recipe to prepare this authentic dish.

Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)

Ingredients to make Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)

  • 5-7 fish pieces
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened yogurt (sour curd or tok doi)
  • 3 tbsp black mustard seeds (soaked in lukewarm water for atleast 30 minutes)
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds (also known as posto dana and soaked in water for atleast 30 minutes)
  • 4-8 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • salt as per taste

How to make Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce)

  1. Wash and clean the fish pieces in cold water. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Drizzle some mustard oil over the fish pieces and rub them with a little salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric so that the fish is coated well on both sides. Keep it aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the black mustard seeds and the poppy seeds. Grind them in a mixer/blender along with coconut, 4-5 green chilies and little salt, using no or very little water.
  3. The mustard and poppy seeds should be grind to a fine paste else the curry taste will become bitter. So grind it to smooth paste even if it takes 5-10 minutes. Keep this paste aside.
  4. In a bowl, take the yogurt, add rest of turmeric powder and chilli powder. Add the paste, salt as per taste and 3 tbsp mustard oil. Mix it properly. Add around 1 cup water to the above prepared paste and mix well so that there are no lumps. This mustard curry paste is now ready to be used.
  5. Bhapa Mach can be prepared in pressure cooker, rice cooker, double boiler or in oven. (I used a rice cooker with a fitting steamer to cook the fish.)
  6. Fill the rice cooker with water and bring it to a boil with the lid covered. This might take 15 minutes. (The amount of water to be added in the cooker depends on the size.)
  7. Grease the steamer pan with oil . (If your steamer pan has holes, cover the pan with an aluminum foil, shining side down and then grease it.)
  8. Now spread half of the previously prepared mustard curry paste in the container and put 2 slit Green Chilies and then place Fish pieces in a single layer (not one on top of the other), finally pour rest of the paste over the fishes.
  9. Pour 1 tbsp of mustard oil on the top and 1 green chillies. Put the steamer pan in the rice cooker and cover it with the lid. Make sure that the lid is tightly placed and no steam escapes from the sides.
  10. Alternatively, place the marinated fish in a steel tiffin box in a single layer and pour the mustard curry paste over the fish, add the remaining green chilies, drizzle some oil and close the lid of the box. Put this box in an idli steamer. High steam it for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the steamer and serve it with steaming hot rice.

My Tip:

Please note that if your container is not big enough to hold all the fish pieces, then cook in batches but do not put the fish on top of each other.

Reviews for Bengali Bhapa Mach (Steamed Fish in spicy mustard sauce) (2)

Anushree Loke Vinay2 years ago


Shipra Saxena3 years ago

so yummy! which type of fish should we use to prepare this dish?