Fish head curry or Muri Ghanto is an essential Bengali food item, made with rice and fish heads. The fish used generally is rohu. It is a festive item on Bengali menus, used on occasions like Bhai Phota, Aiburo Bhaat and Saadh. The dish is prepared so that the rice is not completely cooked through, giving it a grainy texture. This dish can easily be called the paella of Bengal.
Fish head curry is a dish of relative popularity amongst Malaysians and Singaporeans and tourists there, although it is generally not categorised as cheap hawker fare. A typical fish head curry served in a claypot costs between $10-20 and some of the best can be found in hawker centres and neighbourhood food stalls. The origins of the modern dish began in Singapore, with a chef wanting his South Indian-style food to cater to a wider clientele, notably Chinese customers who considered fish head a special delicacy. Today, restaurants of not only Indian, but Malay, Chinese and Peranakan associations serve variations of this dish.
In Mithila, Odisha and Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal) where the staple is rice and fish, one very popular fish head curry is made with moog or mung beans but other vegetables can also be used. The gravy is very thick and very spicy and the rui fish (rohita) is most popular for this.
A slightly varied version is also cooked in the Mithilanchal part of Bihar known as muri ghanth. In this type a day-old fried head of any fish is used and it is cooked in pulses.
Tamarind (asam) juice is frequently added to the gravy to give it a sweet-sour taste (see asam fish); this variety of fish head curry normally has a thinner, orange gravy. Additionally, a certain amount of coconut milk is often used in the curry.