Thursday, 15 October 2015


Durga Puja knocking at the door and there will be no Ilish/Hilsa fair at Bengali homes? Unimaginable... Ilish-Bengali-Kanchalanka[green chilli]... are sewn together. It is part of our identity. Where ever we are we do not stop making love with this silvery beauty. I can bring forth many a sweet memories associated with Ilish. The mom in the house always reserved the biggest piece for the daughter considering her love for it, perhaps thinking she will go away one day. The indulgent daddy and a loving brother were so supportive of that. There is a hint of pain in all the happiness while cooking it that I am unable to sit together and have it with my family.

On my husband's side of the family, it is a ritual to have Ilish on Dashami[4th day of Durga Puja], then stop and again have it on the Saraswati Puja Day. There is a scientific reason for this, allowing them enough time to breed. Unfortunately, these days it is not followed resulting into lack of its availability, hence the skyrocketing prices. The fish loving Bongs are finding it difficult to have what they love.

It is this time of the year when I miss Kolkata the most... Durga Puja... the celebration....the food fair....Yesterday evening I visited the market and again stopped by when I saw some fresh Ilish in the market. My plans never work when I see Ilish at the market.... I am never tired of cooking it because its an absolute frill free cooking... idea is to retain its own flavour and taste. On eve of Durga Puja, I wish to share two very simple, authentic Bengali recipes of Ilish/Hilsa.... Shorshe Posto Ilish and Ilish Bhaja.

You may ask what is so special about a fried fish and blogging about it. It is as much as of the fried Hilsa's oil... peeping hot rice, a green chilli, a bit of salt and the crispy fried Hilsa....isnt that Heaven on a plate... you bet yes, ask any Bengali.....

                                                                     ILISH BHAJA

Ilish Pieces : 4
Salt : As Required
Turmeric : 1/2tsp
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp[the fish itself releases oil]

Clean and wash the fish pieces very well. Apply salt and turmeric and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Add 2 fish pieces at a time. Fry at low heat each side 4-5 minutes. They need to be crispy fried.

Reserve the oil to have with piping hot steamed rice, with a green chilli, a dash of salt and a crispy fried hilsa piece.
 The Shorshe-Posto Ilish was done and photo taken in Kolkata as poppy seeds are banned in Singapore.
                                                        ILLISH SHORSHE POSTO

Ilish : 6 pieces
Black Mustard Seed : 2tsp
Poppy Seed : 1tsp[skip if you stay in Dubai or Singapore]
Green Chilli : 4-5[using generously enhances taste]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Kalojeera[nigella seeds] : 2pinches
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp

Wash the poppy seeds , drain the water through a strainer and soak in hot water for 1 hour.

Wash the mustard seeds too. Blend together mustard seeds, poppy seeds, green chilli with little salt and 1/4small cup water.[the salt helps the paste not to turn bitter].

Apply salt and turmeric to the fish pieces and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with kalojeera. Add the paste and saute at low heat for 1/2 a minute.

Add little salt and turmeric. Add 1 small cup water. Let boil for 2 minutes.

Add the fish pieces. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Flip over, let boil for another 2 minutes. Add slitted green chillies.

Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice.

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