Tilapia Jhal

Bengali Tilapia Jhal Recipe

Tales Of A TilapiaBengali Tilapia Jhal Recipe

A Bengali Cuisine classic and a recent fad in the Western Cuisine, Tilapia has made many  people its fan over these years. While bloggers and chefs are going gaga over Baked Tilapia, it has been one of the most common fishes cooked in a Bengali household. This Tilapia Jhal is one of those commonly cooked recipes which has made Bengali babus happy and has kept khokas and khukis healthy.

While growing up, to be quite honest, we had a limited exposure to variety of fishes. It was basically Rohu and Katla which made its mark in our kitchen. As these were commonly available and cheaper as well, our menu had a repeated inclusion of these variety of fishes. However, upon our annual visits to Kolkata, we would get to enjoy a wider range of fishes which would often include Hilsa, Pomphret, Bhetki, Prawns, and Tilapia.

Now, my dad was particularly against this fish. It took me quite a few years to figure out his dislike for this fish. Otherwise a sweet and practically bone-less, it is a fresh water fish which grows fast in rivers, ponds and lakes. Now, I came to hear that while growing up, my grandfather used to grow Tilapia in their fountain tank. (Yups, they had a fountain in front of their main entrance and at the end of the driveway. And, again yes, they had a driveway which led to their Bungalow!!) So, coming back to the Tilapias, they would make their way to my grandmom’s kitchen and would get served to their kids. As my dad claims that they have had these Tilapias for so long that now even their sight makes him sick.

However, apart from his fuss, Tilapias are very healthy and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Coming back to this Tilapia Jhal recipe, it is quintessentially a Bengali dish with all its basic elements in a play like pungency of mustard combined with the heat of chilli.  It is quick, tasty and absolutely hassle-free dish. Get this recipe below.


Course Main Course
Cuisine Bengali
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 People


  • 2 Tilapia pieces
  • 2 tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 2 Green Chilies Slit in halves
  • 1 tsp Mustard Powder
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves Chopped - For Garnish


  1. If you have Tilapia Fishes of a size of your palm, then keep them intact. If larger than that, then probably get them cut in halves.

  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry the fishes for a minute or two on each side. We are not looking for a color, just a slight crisp. 

  3. Meanwhile, soak the turmeric powder and mustard powder in some water along with some salt. 

  4. Once the fishes are done, add this soaked water along with some some more water for the gravy. Adjust the quantity of water as per your requirement. 

  5. Season the dish with some salt. Add the green chilies and chopped coriander leaves and cover with a lid. Let it simmer on medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes.  

  6. Once the fish is cooked, turn off the heat and serve.  

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