Chital Peti Rasha – Clown Knife Fish Curry

We being the most fish loving state of India acquired the name “Machh-e Bhat-e Bangali” which means, “Bengali by fish and rice”. Among the variety of fish we eat, Chital maach or Clown Knife fish is a delicacy in Bengal and I was told that the best breed of this oily fish travels all the way from river Brahmaputra. I am yet to get one from Brahmaputra but whatever we get here is so far quite good to my pallet. Now there is a catch here. The fish is very boney, where its oily belly portion contains all the big bones and the back portion is full of small bones, which makes it almost impossible to eat. So clever Bengalis innovated two different ways to eat this delicious fish. The ‘peti’ or belly is cooked separately in the form of a curry and the boney back portion is cooked in a completely different way. Here I am sharing a traditional recipe of how to cook the Belly or ‘Peti’ portion of the fish.


  • Chital Peti – 6
  • Potato – 2, cut lengthwise
  • Onion – 3, chopped
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
  • Green Chilli paste – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf – 2,
  • Whole garam masala – 3, each
  • Cashew nut – a handful, soak and make a paste
  • Curd – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard Oil
  • Salt, Turmeric
  • Kashmiri chilli powder

Wash and fry the Chital peti , with turmeric and salt .

Make a paste of ginger, garlic, cumin and onions. Pour mustard oil in a pan, when hot , add  1/2 tsp of sugar, stir till caramelise, then add cumin and bay-leaf along with the whole garam masala. Saute and then add the paste of masalas. green chilli paste, kashmiri chili powder, turmeric and salt, saute on low flame. Add the curd and cashew paste and saute till the masalas are done and oil gets released from the sides. Add sliced potatoes to the masalas and let it get coated well.

Add 2 cups of hot water and increase the flame. Once the gravy starts boiling add the fried fish. Let it cook for 10 minutes over low heat or till the potatoes are cooked. When the curry attains the desired consistency add some ghee and remove from heat. Sprinkle chopped coriander and serve with plain rice.