Indian Mackerel: An Exhaustive Guide On The Indigenous Fish 

Mehak Shah

June 26, 2023

Indian mackerel, also known as ‘Rastrelliger kanagurta’ or ‘Bangda’, is a fish species that holds a special place in the hearts of seafood lovers, particularly in coastal regions of India, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Beyond its delectable taste, Indian mackerel offers a plethora of nutritional benefits, making it a highly sought-after choice for health-conscious individuals.

In this article, we delve into the world of Indian mackerel, exploring its nutritional profile, health benefits, cooking tips, and more. Whether you are a seafood enthusiast looking to incorporate this fish into your diet or simply curious about its unique characteristics, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Indian mackerel and its significance in the realm of nutrition.

Physical Characteristics of Indian Mackerel

Here are the notable physical attributes of Indian mackerel

Body Shape: Indian mackerel features an elongated, fusiform body shape. It is streamlined and designed for swift swimming through the water. This shape allows it to move efficiently and swiftly, enabling it to be an agile predator.

Size: The average size of Indian mackerel ranges from 20 to 35 centimetres in length, although it can grow up to 45 centimetres in exceptional cases. The size may vary depending on factors such as age, habitat, and availability of food.

Colouration: Indian mackerel exhibits an intriguing colour pattern. The upper part of its body, also known as the dorsal side, has a deep blue-green colour. As we move towards the sides and belly, the colour transitions to silver. This gradient helps the fish blend with its surroundings, providing camouflage and protection from predators.

Stripes: One of the most distinctive features of Indian mackerel is the presence of dark, wavy stripes on its upper body. These stripes run vertically across the fish, starting from the back and extending towards the belly. The stripes serve as a visual marker, aiding in species recognition and identification.

Scales: Indian mackerel has small, overlapping scales covering its body. These scales are smooth to the touch and offer protection against friction and potential injuries. The scales also contribute to the fish’s streamlined shape, reducing drag as it moves through the water.

Fins: Like other fish species, the Indian mackerel possesses various fins that aid in its locomotion and manoeuvrability. It has a dorsal fin located on its back, which helps maintain stability during swimming. The anal fin, positioned closer to the tail, assists in steering and balance. Additionally, Indian mackerel has pectoral fins on the sides, pelvic fins near the abdomen, and a caudal fin (tail fin) that provides propulsion.

Overall, the Indian mackerel showcases a sleek, vibrant appearance characterized by its elongated shape, distinctive colouration, wavy stripes, and a set of fins that enable its remarkable swimming capabilities. These physical characteristics contribute to both its visual appeal and its ability to thrive in the oceanic environment.

Nutritional Profile Of Indian Mackerel

Indian mackerel is not only delicious but also offers a wealth of nutrients that contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. Let’s explore the nutritional profile of Indian mackerel:

  1. Protein: Indian mackerel is an excellent source of high-quality protein. A 100-gram serving of cooked Indian mackerel provides approximately 20 grams of protein. 
  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Indian mackerel is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A 100-gram serving of Indian mackerel can provide around 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
  1. Vitamins: Indian mackerel contains various vitamins that contribute to overall health. It is a good source of vitamin D, Vitamin B12, niacin (vitamin B3), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). 
  1. Minerals: Indian mackerel is rich in minerals essential for optimal bodily functions. It is particularly abundant in selenium. Other minerals found in Indian mackerel include phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. 
  1. Low in Carbohydrates: Indian mackerel is naturally low in carbohydrates, making it a suitable choice for individuals following low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets.

It is important to note that the specific nutrient composition may vary depending on factors such as the size of the fish, cooking method, and freshness. Additionally, while Indian mackerel provides numerous health benefits, it is also essential to consider portion sizes and overall dietary balance when incorporating it into your meals.

Health Benefits Of Indian Mackerel

Indian mackerel offers a wide range of health benefits due to its nutrient composition. Let’s explore the health benefits of Indian mackerel in greater depth:

Cardiovascular Health

Indian mackerel is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids have been extensively studied for their positive effects on heart health. As per research, they help reduce inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and improve overall blood lipid profile. Regular consumption of Indian mackerel has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, improved blood vessel function, and lowered blood pressure. Furthermore, studies show that omega-3 fatty acids have antiarrhythmic properties, helping maintain a regular heart rhythm.

Brain Function and Mental Health

The omega-3 fatty acids found in Indian mackerel play a crucial role in brain development and function. DHA, in particular, is a major structural component of the brain. According to research, adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids improves cognitive function, memory, and attention span. It may also help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, research associates omega-3 fatty acids with a lower risk of depression and may help manage symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Indian mackerel’s omega-3 fatty acids possess potent anti-inflammatory properties. They can help reduce the production of inflammatory compounds in the body, thereby alleviating symptoms of chronic inflammation. As per research chronic inflammation is linked to various health conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. By incorporating Indian mackerel into your diet, you can help modulate inflammation and promote overall health.

Weight Management and Metabolism

Indian mackerel is a lean source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting muscle growth, and aiding in weight management. Studies indicate that protein has a high satiety effect, meaning it can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce calorie intake. The combination of protein and healthy fats in Indian mackerel can support a healthy metabolism and contribute to weight loss or weight maintenance goals.

Nutrient Density

Indian mackerel is packed with essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in calcium absorption, bone health, and immune function. Indian mackerel also provides significant amounts of vitamin B12, which is essential for red blood cell production and nervous system function. Additionally, it contains minerals such as selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, which support various physiological processes in the body.

Eye Health

Indian mackerel contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that promote eye health. Going by recent research, the omega-3 fatty acids help protect against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Furthermore, as per research, antioxidants, such as selenium and vitamin E, help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the eyes. 


Indian mackerel offers a wide range of health benefits. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure. The omega-3s also support brain function, memory, and mental health, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and managing mood disorders. The fish’s anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate chronic inflammation associated with various health conditions. Indian mackerel’s lean protein content aids in weight management and metabolism. It is packed with essential nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, and minerals, promoting overall well-being. Additionally, it contributes to eye health by protecting against macular degeneration and reducing oxidative stress in the eyes.

Cooking and Preparation Tips

Indian mackerel is a versatile fish that can be prepared in various delicious ways. Here are some cooking and preparation tips to make the most out of your Indian mackerel:

  1. Freshness: When purchasing Indian mackerel, look for fish with clear and bright eyes, shiny skin, and a fresh oceanic smell. Freshness is key to ensuring the best flavour and quality.
  1. Cleaning and Gutting: If you buy whole Indian mackerel, start by cleaning and gutting the fish. Rinse it under cold water and remove the scales using a scaler or the back of a knife. Make a shallow cut along the belly and remove the innards. Rinse the fish again to remove any remaining blood or impurities.
  1. Marinating: Indian mackerel pairs well with marinades and spices. Marinating the fish before cooking enhances its flavour. You can use a mixture of ingredients like lemon juice, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli powder, and salt. Allow the fish to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate it overnight for a deeper flavour infusion.
  1. Grilling: Grilling Indian mackerel adds a smoky and charred flavour to the fish. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates to prevent sticking. Place the fish on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until it is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Baste the fish with the marinade or olive oil while grilling to keep it moist.
  1. Baking: Baking Indian mackerel is a healthy and easy option. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the marinated fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. You can add sliced lemon or herbs like dill or parsley for extra flavour.
  1. Curry Preparations: Indian mackerel is commonly used in curries, adding a rich and flavorful element to the dish. Use a combination of spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chilli powder to create a fragrant curry base. Add coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables or ingredients of your choice. Simmer the fish in the curry until it is cooked and absorbs the flavours of the sauce.
  1. Pairing: Indian mackerel goes well with a variety of sides and accompaniments. Serve it with steamed rice, naan bread, or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful juices. Fresh salads, pickles, chutneys, or a squeeze of lemon can complement the fish’s taste.


When preparing Indian mackerel, ensure freshness by looking for clear eyes, shiny skin, and a fresh smell. Clean and gut the fish, removing scales and innards. Marinating with ingredients like lemon juice, ginger, and spices enhances flavour. Grill for a smoky taste or bake for a healthy option. Use in curry with spices, coconut milk, and vegetables. Pair with rice, bread, salads, pickles, or lemon for a complete meal.

Healthy Recipes For Indian Mackerel 

Grilled Mackerel with Lemon and Herbs


– Fresh mackerel fillets: 2 

– Olive oil: 2 tbsp

– Lemon juice: 2 tbsp

– Minced garlic cloves- 2

– Parsley: 1 tbsp 

– Thyme: 1 tbsp

– Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat your grill to medium heat.

2. Rinse the mackerel fillets and pat them dry with a paper towel.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped herbs, salt, and pepper.

4. Brush the marinade over both sides of the mackerel fillets, ensuring they are evenly coated.

5. Place the lemon slices on top of the fillets.

6. Grill the mackerel fillets for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through and flake easily with a fork.

7. Remove the mackerel from the grill and serve hot. 

Mackerel in Tomato Sauce


– Fresh mackerel fillets: 2

– Olive oil: 1 tablespoon

– Onion: 50g

– Garlic cloves: 2

– Diced tomatoes: 400g 

– Tomato paste: 1 tablespoon

– Oregano: 1 tablespoon

– Paprika: as per taste 

– Salt and pepper: to taste

– Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld together.

4. Season the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper.

5. Place the fillets in the pan with the tomato sauce, making sure they are submerged in the sauce.

6. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until the mackerel is cooked through and flakes easily.

7. Gently transfer the cooked mackerel fillets to serving plates and spoon the tomato sauce over them.

8. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

9. Serve the mackerel in tomato sauce with a side of steamed rice, quinoa, or crusty bread.

Allergies and Precautions 

While Indian mackerel is a nutritious fish, it’s important to note some potential allergies and precautions associated with its consumption

Fish Allergy

Indian mackerel belongs to the fish family, and individuals with fish allergies may experience adverse reactions upon consuming it. Symptoms of a fish allergy can range from mild to severe and may include hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and in some cases, anaphylaxis. If you have a known fish allergy, it is crucial to avoid consuming Indian mackerel or any other fish.

Mercury Content

Like many other kinds of seafood, Indian mackerel may contain trace amounts of mercury. While it is generally safe to consume in moderation, excessive intake of mercury can be harmful, particularly for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children. These individuals should limit their consumption of fish, including Indian mackerel, and choose low-mercury options.


Fresh fish, including Indian mackerel, may carry parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses. It is essential to ensure that the fish is properly cleaned, gutted, and cooked to eliminate any potential parasites. Cooking the fish thoroughly at the recommended temperature is crucial for food safety.

Cooking Precautions

When handling and cooking Indian mackerel, it is important to follow proper hygiene practices. This includes washing hands thoroughly before and after handling raw fish, using separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked fish, and ensuring the fish is cooked to the appropriate temperature to kill any bacteria or parasites.


Consuming Indian mackerel comes with potential allergies and precautions. Fish allergies can lead to adverse reactions, and individuals should avoid mackerel if allergic. Mercury content may be present, so pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should consume it in moderation. Proper cleaning, gutting, and cooking are necessary to eliminate parasites that may be present. Adhering to hygiene practices, such as washing hands and using separate utensils, is crucial. Additionally, ensuring the fish is cooked at the recommended temperature is important for food safety.

HealthifyMe Suggestion 

Mackerel is an amazing fish to be consumed. It has a high amount of good fats which may help you to improve your lipid profile by increasing your HDL/good cholesterol. Not only that it has been proven that fatty fish like mackerel improves brain function. Also, it keeps you stated for a long which makes it a wonder food for weight loss. Apart from that if you are trying to improve your skin texture mackerel is the way to go. 

So try this flavourful fish today!


In conclusion, Indian mackerel is a nutritious and versatile fish that offers numerous health benefits. Its rich omega-3 fatty acid content promotes cardiovascular health, and brain function, and reduces inflammation. The fish is also a great source of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals. However, individuals with fish allergies should exercise caution, and proper handling, cleaning, and cooking techniques are necessary to ensure food safety. By incorporating Indian mackerel into your diet and exploring different cooking methods, you can enjoy its delicious flavour while reaping its many health benefits. So, consider adding Indian mackerel to your menu and enjoy its taste and nutritional advantages.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is Indian mackerel an oily fish? 

Yes, Indian mackerel is considered an oily fish due to its high oil content, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

Q. What is the nutrition profile of Indian mackerel? 

Indian mackerel is a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. It is also low in saturated fat and carbohydrates.

Q. Is Indian mackerel fish good or bad for you?

Indian mackerel is generally considered good for health due to its nutrient content and health benefits. Regular consumption can support cardiovascular health, brain function, and weight management.

Q. Is Indian mackerel good for health? 

Yes, Indian mackerel is beneficial for health. Its omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, improve heart health, support brain function, and provide other health benefits. It is a nutrient-dense fish that can be part of a healthy diet.

Q. What are the side effects of Indian mackerel fish? 

While Indian mackerel is generally safe to consume, individuals with fish allergies should avoid it. Some people may also experience digestive discomfort or allergic reactions. Additionally, care should be taken regarding mercury content and proper cooking to eliminate parasites.

Q. Is mackerel healthier than salmon? 

Both mackerel and salmon are nutritious fish with similar health benefits. They are both good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and provide various essential nutrients. The choice between the two can depend on personal preferences and availability.

Q. How many times a week should you eat mackerel? 

The frequency of consuming mackerel can vary based on individual dietary needs and preferences. As part of a balanced diet, it is generally recommended to include fish, including mackerel, at least 2-3 times a week to benefit from its nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. However, specific recommendations may vary for certain individuals or dietary restrictions, so it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalised advice.

Reference Links

  1. Overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Therapies:
  1. Omega-3 Index and Anti-Arrhythmic Potential of Omega-3 PUFAs:
  1. Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Brain Functions: A Systematic Review:
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders:
  1. Chronic Inflammation:
  1. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health:
  1. Omega 3 fatty acids for preventing or slowing the progression of age‐related macular degeneration:
  1. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and β-Carotene and Other Carotenoids: Overview, Antioxidant Definition, and Relationship to Chronic Disease:

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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