For the Bengalis’ fish is an integral part of their lives. A simple fish curry with a side of rice and you are sorted for the day. It is not only an essential food in a Bong household but also considered auspicious at any occasion. Out of all the varieties of fish, Ilish always wins the hearts of the Bongs!
There are so many recipes of Ilish or hilsa to try and the most common is this Bhapa Ilish. The recipe is very simple and comes out very quick. The main ingredient of this recipe is mustard or shorshe. Shorshe and Ilish is a great match. The flavor of the hilsa is complemented with the pungent and spicy flavor of the mustard.
The steaks of hilsa are first coated with the mustard paste, seasoned with salt and turmeric, drizzled with pure mustard oil and steamed in a covered pot. The hilsa fish gets cooked fast so the cooking time is not that much. If you are using a pressure cooker, it gets done even faster. Traditionally the Ilish was first coated in the mustard paste and wrapped up in a banana leaf and then steamed along with the rice in a haari or handi. Now days it is steamed in a kadai or a saucepan covered with a lid.
When you are serving Ilish you do not need too many items in the menu, since Ilish is the star of the day. Bhapa Ilish or steamed hilsa is served with white steamed rice, but make sure to use the parboiled rice. Parboiled rice goes great with any fish recipe in a Bong menu.
There are many ways of making this recipe. Some use posto (khuskhus), grated coconut to the mustard paste. I always follow the recipe that my Maa makes and I grew up eating. I hope you’ll enjoy trying the recipe if you haven’t already. A very happy Puja to all who are celebrating!
If you do not have a lid for the steel bowl you may cover with an aluminum foil. You may only use black mustard seeds in the recipe. Add the chilies according to the amount of spiciness you can handle.
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How to make Bhapa Ilish or Ilish Bhapa
By October 6, 2016Published:
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Prep: 10 mins
- Cook: 20-25 mins
- Ready In: 30 mins
Bhapa ilish is a steamed hilsa preparation in mustard sauce. Great with steamed white rice.
- 4 large steaks of hilsa or ilish
- 4 tablespoons black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds optional
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3-4 medium green chilies
- 2-3 tablespoons pure mustard oil and some more before serving
- Wash and tap dry the steaks of hilsa with a kitchen towel and set aside. In a small blender jar add both the mustard seeds, salt, 1-2 green chilies and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend util the paste is smooth.
- Transfer the paste in a big stainless steel bowl with a lid. Add the turmeric powder, yogurt and mustard oil to it and mix well. You may add couple of tablespoons of water to the spice paste. Add the pieces of Ilish and coat with the mustard and yogurt paste. Slit the remaining green chilies and add it to the fish. Close the lid and set aside.
- Now take a big saucepan, wok with a lid or a pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water. Place the bowl carefully and close the lid. Heat at medium and let it cook for 20-25 minutes. Switch off the flame and set aside covered for 5 minutes.If you are using a pressure cooker, cook until 2 whistles. Let the pressure release on its own and then open the lid of the pressure cooker.
- Carefully take out the bowl and open the lid. You may add few drops of mustard oil.
- Serve hot with steamed white rice. Enjoy!