Saturday, 13 September 2014


Tenualosa Ilisa is a species of fish in the herring family( Clupeidae). Among the Bengalis, it is considered the king of all fish and commonly called Ilish..... in English.....Hilsa. It is an oily fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids. They say it has beneficial effects in decreasing cholesterol level. I will not go much deeper into its beneficial effects, as Wikipedia also goes wrong at times. We eat it because we love to. A simple revelation. Among Bengalis, Ilish can be smoked, fried, steamed, baked in young plantain leaves, prepared with mustard seed paste, curd, eggplant. It is said there are 100 ways of cooking it. No, I won't brag of knowing them all. But yes, being a true Bong I can brag that if the fish is fresh, it can be cooked only with green chilli paste. And still it will taste heavenly. It's roe, has a distinct taste when fried.

Hilsa Fish : 4 pieces( 100 gm each )
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Green Chillies ( moderately hot ) : 5.
Nigella Seeds(Kalonji) : 2 pinches
Mustard Oil( Must ) : 1 tablespoon


This fish has a lot of scales. So wash the pieces very well. Add half tsp turmeric powder and salt as required. Marinate for about half an hour. Prepare a paste of the green chillies.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with nigella seeds. When it gives aroma, add the green chilli paste. Give it a stir and add the remaining 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and salt as per your requirement. Stir for 1 minute.

Pour in 1 cup water . Cover, let boil for 2 minutes. Now, add the fish pieces carefully into the boiling curry. Boil for another 2 minutes. Switch off. It's done.

Remember this recipe does not require frying the fish. Recommended to cook this way only if it is fresh and not frozen. The fish oil that oozes out from the fresh pieces is what enhances it's taste.
Enjoyed only with steamed rice.


  1. A mouth watering dish for all hard core fish eaters who can handle the presence of lots of bones in the fish. The taste compensates for every inconvenience!

  2. are in my camp then....I eat fish like cats...

  3. Lovely color and fabulous recipe! I was looking for one such. Thank you