With the first drop of rains in Eastern India the kitchen and the food platter of Bengalis gets brightened up with a silver lining. Yes, that silver lining is Ilish , the silvered colored fish which Bengalis can die for . Today I decided to make Ilish bhapa. OK ! Before I go to the standard recipe let me make some romance with the king of fish.
Hilsa or Ilish was introduced by “Bangal” (people from Bangladesh) , within a due course of time it made its place in the food plates of “Ghoti” (people originating in West Bengal) as well, so says the history!
The clouds , the paddy fields , the full to the brim rivers , the lingering rainfalls somehow matches with the royalty of Ilish . Well , when the fisherman takes his boat and fishing net into the river during Monsoons he and his wife pray to the God “Let me have a good catch today” . A part of that good catch is Hilsa .
Now that was the fisherman …but what about us who wait for this rainy season , who wish to have Ilish in the weekend lunch , then watch a Satyajit Ray , a Mrinal Sen or a Rituporno movie (we are intellectuals you see 😛 !! ) and have a delicious slumber .
Nothing can beat the taste of Ilish Bhapa (Steamed Ilish), a recipe served with Steamed rice . In Eastern India famous Ilish recipes are steamed (Ilish Bhapa), fried (Ilish Bhaja), steamed in young plantain leaves (Ilish Paturi), prepared with mustard seed paste, curd, etc.
Green Chilli , Mustard oil and kalonji seeds are the most important ingredients for a Bengali style ilish recipe . While making Ilish bhapa it is good if we can have the fish weighing minimum 1 Kg (and cut into ring pieces as shown in picture ).
Here are the ingredients for Steamed Hilsa / Ilish Bhapa Recipe .
Hilsa fish ring pieces – 800 gm
Black and Yellow Mustard Seeds (Mixed) – 4 Teaspoon
Poppy Seeds – 1 Teaspoon
Scraped Coconut – 5 Tablespoon
Yogurt – 5 Tablespoon
Mustard Oil – 5 Tablespoon
Turmeric – 2 Teaspoon
Green Chilli – 3-4 (as much hot you want)
Salt – As per taste
Water – ½ glass
1 .Make the paste of the poppy seeds at first in a blender .
2. Now to it add the Mustard Seeds , add 2 Tablespoon yogurt to it , grind together to form a smooth paste .
3. Now to the same paste add the scraped coconut, 3-4 Green Chillis and add the rest of the yogurt (you may add small quantity of water if necessary) . Blend together .
4. Your Gravy Masala is ready .
5. Now in a Steel Covered Box pour the masala. Add salt, turmeric, slit Green Chillis , Mustard oil . Mix them.
6. Add the fish pieces.
7. Cover the box.
8. Add water in a Pressure cooker till water level is ½ inch high. Let it shimmer.
9. Place the covered box on the water (be careful not to burn your hand).
- Close the lid of the cooker (without the Pressure Whistle)
- Cook in low flame for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the burner. Let it cool. Now take out easily from the cooker and enjoy with steamed white rice.
Have a wonderful Ilish Bhapa Weekend!