Hot and Sour Fish - Climbing Perch

Tok Jhal Koi Machh recipe

This is my grandmother's sour fish recipe. I like to follow the recipe as it is, but honestly, a 100 year old daily recipe has now become a very costly affair today. It has an elevated status due to its' taste and unavailability and its price reflects it. It is one of the best side dishes for the hard core fish-and-rice lover Bengali. One such dish, which consequently demands more eating than regular quantity consciously and unconsciously, amazingly delicious and light. The tangerine juice of tamarind and chili mustard paste provides a lovely sour and hot taste, which heightens the best flavour of koi or climbing perch, I feel, besides all other rich recipes like cauliflower koi, ganga jamuna, tel koi or even green and koi dish. By Published:

Earlier in my childhood days though I did not like to eat the Kwoi fish due to its blackish color and also for its sharp bones, everyone in my family laughed at me while seeing my eagerness to eat this dish more than other of my favorite dishes. 4.0 stars based on 35 reviews, Prep time: , Cook time: , Total time: , Yield: 4 [4 servings], Serving size: 1 pc, Calories per serving: 250


  • Fresh Koi/Climber Perch fish [the koi fish is eaten whole] : 400g

  • Mustard oil: 50g

  • Turmeric powder: 2 tsp

  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp

  • Cumin powder: 2 tsp

  • Yellow raisin: 10g

  • White and black mustard seeds [1:1] paste
    [added salt, green chili paste, and mustard oil]
    : 1 tsp each

  • Fresh tamarind juice: 1 cup, light

  • Salt and sugar: to taste

  • Bay leaves and whole red chili: 2 each


1. Clean and wash the fish with lukewarm water and salt. Season the fish lightly with salt, turmeric, and 2 tsp mustard oil. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

2. Mix sugar, salt, and red chili powder with tamarind juice. Grind water-soaked mustard seeds with salt and green chili, add 1 tsp mustard oil and keep covered for 10 minutes.

3. In a deep pan heat the oil, add 1 tsp salt and one pinch turmeric powder to the hot oil. Now fry the fish carefully until slightly dark in color, but do not fry much. Keep aside.

4. In the same oil add bay leaves and whole red chili, mustard paste and cumin powder, add raisin, now add fish, soon after that pour prepared tamarind juice. We make this dish somewhat sweeter than other Bengali fish dishes. Boil the fish on medium-to-high heat for 5 minutes then boil for another 10 minutes on simmering heat. Now switch off the heat. The fish should then be left covered till serving time. This hot and sour fish item is best to be served with piping hot boiled rice. It may be garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

Recipe Tips:

  • If fresh fishes are unavailable one can add one tbsp onion paste in this recipe and fry a little until translucent before adding mustard paste to the oil.

  • The only tough part of making this dish is that the fish becomes very slippery while cleaning with water and gets somewhat difficult to be scaled and cleaned thoroughly and while discarding the gills. Lukewarm water with salt can makes it easier to deal with. And the best trick to avoid splutter oil while frying the fish is to add some oil during seasoning of the fish with salt and turmeric and also by adding slight salt and turmeric to the hot oil while frying the fish.