Mach er Kata Chorchori


A fishmonger’s trash is actually a beautiful delicacy



One person’s waste can be another person’s delicacy. That’s the theory behind my newest series on food waste. I’ve asked people from around the world to share their favorite recipes that minimize food waste and use common scraps to create tasty meals. So far in this series, no dish embraces this idea quite like Mach er Kata Chorchori.

This submission was brought to me by Mugdha who currently lives in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in India, but is originally from the West Bengal state of India. With plenty of rivers and access to the Bay of Bengal, Mugdha points out that West Bengali cuisine features plenty of fish. And while an abundance of fish could be an abundance of fish waste, the cooks of West Bengal had a more creative approach. They discovered a delicious way to use one of the most common fish scraps – fish heads and bones.

According to Mugdha, “mach er kata” translates to “fish bones,” while “chorchori” refers to a dish of stir fried vegetables and spices. So, Mach er Kata Chorchori is simply a fish head and bone stir fry. For Mugdha, this dish can be found throughout West Bengal and is a great showcase of the region’s flavors, spices, techniques, and creativity.

As someone who has never cooked with fish heads, I was both excited and wildly intimidated by this dish. Yet, it’s a bit simpler than you might think. Admittedly, the hardest part for me was cleaning and prepping the fish heads, but it’s at least downhill from there. In a wok, you’ll heat up some mustard oil and add in some mustard seeds and ginger garlic paste. After a few seconds, you’ll use that mixture to fry your fish heads. Once the heads are finished frying, remove them from the pan, and use the oil to cook together diced potatoes, green chilies, and slices of onion and cabbage. Combine everything together and serve over rice.

If you’ve never experienced fish heads, then Mach er Kata Chorchori will be a real gamechanger. The meat around the cheeks, eyes, and collarbones of the fish heads are magically tender and have such a rich umami flavor. Plus, the mustard seeds, mustard oil, and chilies bring in a perfect pop of spice. As Mugdha put it, “[Mach er Kata Chorchori] shows an understanding that every part of an ingredient can create a culinary masterpiece.”

Watch the Video

Mach er Kata Chorchori


  • 1 kg fish bone and head pieces
  • 4 ½ Tbsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • ¼-½ cup mustard oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 red onions sliced
  • 1-3 Tbsp red chili powder depending how spicy you like it
  • green chilis sliced, as many as you like
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 potato cubed
  • 1 cup cabbage chopped


  • Wash the fish heads and bodies well. Remove the gills if possible (they will make the dish bitter).
  • Rub fish bones/heads with 2 Tbsp turmeric and salt. Marinate for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil and add mustard seed. Temper for a few seconds then add ginger-garlic paste. Heat for a few seconds until fragrant.
  • Add fish and fry well. Once cooked, set aside.
  • To the same pan, add onions until soft/starting to caramelize. Add the rest of your ingredients and cook until vegetables are soft. Add enough water to cook and form a slight gravy.
  • When it boils, add fish back in. Cook a little bit and mix to combine everything well, adding salt to taste and more water if needed. When oil separates, take off heat.
  • Serve warm with rice!


Recipe inspired by Lost and Rare Recipes
Course: Dinner
Region: Asia
Diet: Gluten Free


You May Also Like

Noon Chai

From the natural pink color to its savory taste, this traditional Kashmiri tea is a surprise at every turn