Hilsa or Ilish fish is one of the most popular fishes among the Bengalis living in eastern India. The Padma River is the source of the most delicious hilsa. It also took the western route to the Ganges in India. But the rivers of Bangladesh were known to be more abundant. Now there are more hilsa in the west, in areas near Indian waters.
The Bangladeshi hilsa is typical of a good monsoon dish and the last ilish is consumed after offering a pair of fish to the Goddess at Lakshmi Puja. Bengalis cease consuming it between between Lakshmi Puja from October to February till the Saraswati Puja. This period coincide with the season when the Khoka Ilish return from the rivers to the sea. The khoka ilish is cheaper and has a sweeter taste.
If you believe that the steamed fish is a dish lacking in taste, the bhapa ilish recipe or steamed hilsa has a refined and very delicate taste. The fish is steamed and the only condiment is a sauce made with fresh mustard paste and mustard oil, while the water used for steaming may be flavored with peppercorns, spring onions to gently perfume the dish. For steaming you will need a aluminum bowl, supported on a pot of water, flavored with lemon and herbs or you can make in a microwave too.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 225 calories per 100 gms
1 kg Hilsa
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp yogurt
3 green chillies
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 inch piece ginger
2 tsp poppy seeds
4 tbsp mustard oil
Salt to taste
Wash the fish well and sprinkle with salt and a tsp of turmeric powder.
Soak mustard seeds in lukewarm water for 10 minutes. Make a smooth paste of mustard seeds, poppy seeds, green chillies, ginger, salt, yogurt, chilli powder and remaining turmeric powder.
Pour the mustard sauce liberally on the fish pieces so that all the pieces are coated nicely. Place the slit green chillies on top. Marinate the fish for half an hour.
Pour three cups of water in the cooker and place a ring in it. Take a pan and spread little mustard oil. Place the fish pieces on a single layer. Pour mustard oil over the fish. Now place this pan on the ring in the pressure cooker. Cover with lid and steam the fish for 15 minutes, till it is cooked.
Serve hot with rice.