Machher Mathar Shukto

Machher mathar shukto…sounds obnoxious??? It is really not. Neither did I discover it. This is a preparation from my grandmother’s kitchenette.

Shukto is a sweet, bitter medley of vegetables eg. plantain, raw papaya, eggplant, drumstick, radish, bitter gourd, and additionally other vegetables of your choice cooked in loads of ghee in unique flavor of radhuni. There are also other variations of this shukto in which no bitter gourd is used and is rather cooked in mustard sauce. eg Lau r shukto. There are also some amish variations of shukto and machher shukto is a popular Thakurbarir preparation.

This shukto of mine with fish head is a preparation which was often cooked by my grandmother. The inclusion of fish head in this shukto elevates the dish to another level. And believe me, it is delicious.

While I have used papaya, plantain, carrot, radish, eggplant, you can use pointed gourd, flat beans or any other vegetable of your choice.

Machher Matha r Shukto

A medley of vegetables and fish head cooked in loads of ghee and unique flavor of radhuni and a jab of mustard
Course Main Course
Cuisine Bengali
Keyword machher mathar shukto, shukto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 5


  • 1 rui machher matha/rohu fish head
  • 1 potato (peeled and diced)
  • cup of kancha pepe/raw papaya (peeled and diced)
  • 1 plantain/raw banana (peeled and diced)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and cut into long cubes)
  • 1 small eggplant diced
  • 1 radish diced
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  • 1 tablespoon of white mustard seeds
  • tablespoon of black mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of mustard oil
  • teaspoon of fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • teaspoon of wild celery (radhuni) seeds
  • 2 whole red chilies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ inch of ginger


  • Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder on the fish head and keep it aside.
  • In a kadai, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat it.
  • When the oil is hot, add the fish head to the kadai.
  • Fry the fish heads evenly on all the sides and keep them aside.
  • Soak 1 tablespoon each of black and white mustard seeds for about 20 minutes. Blitz the mustard seeds along with ginger, 1 teaspoon each of fenugreek and wild celery seeds, salt and let it rest for about 30 minutes. (See Notes)
  • To the kadai, add one tablespoon of oil and heat it. As the oil starts smoking, temper the oil with ¼ teaspoon each of fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, wild celery seeds, bay leaves, dry red chilies.
  • Add all the vegetables to the kadai, and saute them for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
  • Add water to the kadai followed by salt and cook the vegetables covered.
  • When the vegetables are partially done, break the fish head into pieces and add them to the kadai.
  • Cook till all the vegetables are completely done. Add sugar.
  • Add the mustard paste to the kadai and let it simmer for about a minute or till the sauce thickens. The sauce should neither be runny or too dry.
  • Add ghee to the kadai and give the veggies a hearty mix. Turn off the flame.
  • Serve the shukto.


Add water to the mustard paste and strain the mixture to remove all the husks of the mustard seeds. Adding salt to the mustard paste and letting it sit for about 30 minutes removes the bitterness of the mustard paste.

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