Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mahseer the most famous angling fish of India, belongs to the group of fish known by the general name barb. However, authorities no longer assign it to the genus Barbus and place it rather in that of Tor. In any case, one should refer to ‘them’ rather than ‘it’, because there are two main species.

  • Tor tor, the tor mahseer, is the better known of the two, and an important food fish. It may reach a length of 1.2 m (4') and is widely distributed in the rivers of the foothills of the Himalayas. It is easily recognized by its bright coloration: golden-green back, golden sides, silver belly, and orange-red pectoral fins.

  • T. putitora, the putitor mahseer, may be twice as long and has been the subject of many tales by ‘sport fishermen’ in India. It is less common than the other, and somewhat less bright in its colours.