Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce( Bhapa Mach)

Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce( Bhapa Mach)

Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce recipe is fast and easy to cook and best part is, you don’t need any stovetop. All you need is a good mixer or food processor, a strainer, a microwave safe container and a good working microwave oven. The star of the dish is mustard sauce. The mustard paste in this recipe is strained to avoid any bitterness in the mustard sauce(a tip given by my mother). This recipe is excellent for lunch, served with steaming white rice and also attractive in appearance; if well made, the Bengali Mustard Sauce Fish Curry will be very brightly colored.


The mention of mustard sauces has been found in food texts and cookbooks, both in Medieval and Renaissance periods. The Christian Bible uses the proverb ‘one who has faith as much as a mustard seed’  being able to ‘remove mountains’  because tiny mustard seeds grows into 6-foot-high plants, strong enough for birds to make their nests and live whole single summer.

The love affair of Europeans with spicy food must have started with this hot little mustard seed. These were cultivated in Europe for centuries, and since it was cheap to grow mustard plants, it became hugely popular. Mustard sauces is used for adding spice on meat or on fish. Mustard sauce in France, was prepared by ground mustard seeds, moistened by vinegar. The reason is, a chemical reaction occurs when the seeds are crushed, releasing glycosides plus an enzyme that breaks them down into very bite-y hot compounds which quickly mellow unless the reaction is stopped by the addition of vinegar. It is interesting that the French government passed a regulation on August 10, 1390 that mustard sauce should contain only “good seed and suitable vinegar” without any binder.

Inspite of the French legislators insistence on purity minimalism in mustard, cooks have always fiddled with flavor. As an example, the Lombard mustard was made up thick with honey, wine and vinegar, and thinned for use with wine.”
Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce( Bhapa Mach)
Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce( Bhapa Mach)
In India, Bengal was once the home of a French colony, and also hosted populations of Portuguese, Dutch and other Europeans. These collective western influences are seen in the foods created to satisfy the tastes of the western rulers. The result is a unique cuisine, local ingredients adapted to French and Italian cooking techniques—characterized by creamy sauces, the restrained use of spices, and new techniques. Both Bengal and South India use whole black mustard seeds, but Bengal is unique for the extensive use of freshly ground mustard paste in its food. A pungent mustard paste called Kashundi is a dipping sauce popular in Bengal.


Another very important feature of Bengali cuisine is the mustard oil(also known as Shorse tel) , which is also the primary medium of bengali cooking. Bhapa Chingri/Bhapa Ilish is a signature bengali dish of prawns or ilish in mustard sauce, steamed to perfection, with a liberal dousing of mustard oil. Try this delightful delicacy from the heart of Bengal that will surely titillate your taste buds, giving you a sensuous feeling.

Microwave Steamed Fish in a Bengali Mustard Sauce( Bhapa Mach)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Bengali
Serves: 2 people
  • 5 medium size skinless fish pieces
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp paprika or red chilly powder(adjust spice as per your preference)
  • 4 green chilli slit
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoon mustard oil
  • For Mustard paste :
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds(white)
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut
  • 4-6 green chilli ( adjust as per your taste)
  • ½ tsp Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  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 ½ tsp turmeric so that the fish is coated well on both sides. Keep it aside.
  2. Combine the mustard seeds, poppy seeds and the grated coconut and dry grind it in a mixer or food processor.
  3. Add the lemon juice, green chilli, turmeric, salt and grind it into a smooth paste by adding very little water(about ¼ cup). The mustard paste is ready.
  4. Take out the mustard paste in a medium size bowl. Add 1.5 cup of water or as needed, salt as per taste, 4 tablespoons mustard oil, and paprika into the bowl.
  5. Mix well or blend all the ingredients in a blender for few seconds. Strain the mixture into a medium size bowl and discard the residue left in the strainer. You will get a brightly colored mustard sauce.Add salt and red chilly powder into the mustard sauce if needed.
  6. Grease a microwave oven safe container with mustard oil and place the marinated fish in a single layer and pour the mustard sauce over the fish,add the remaining green chilies, drizzle some oil on the top if you wish.
  7. Cover the container with a clingfilm. Cook in microwave at high for 5 minutes, take it out, remove the cover and stir the sauce.
  8. Cover again with a clingfilm, put it back in the microwave and again cook for 5 minutes. Take it out again, remove the cover, stir the sauce and flip the fish to the other side.
  9. Once again , cover the container and cook in the microwave for another 4-5 minutes or until the fish is completely baked. Do not overcook. The fish in bengali mustard sauce is ready.
  10. Please note that the cooking time may slightly vary with the power of the microwave, so adjust accordingly.
  11. Serve the Microwave Steamed Fish in Bengali Mustard Sauce with hot white rice.
The mustard paste is made by grinding the mustard seeds finely in order to avoid bitterness. However , straining the mustard paste removes the bitterness of the mustard seeds altogether.

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