Many a poet was born in Bengal to write an ode to this silver queen. If I say so I may not be exaggerating. This exotic, silvery beauty is almost worshipped by the Bengalis. Commonly known as Ilish among Bengalis and Oriyas and Hilsa worldwide, it is said there is about 100 recipes of this fish. Authentication of this information is required though. Whatever, we eat it in every form, fried, steamed, smoked. even dried.
A rain drenched evening in Kolkata, and you get smell of khichdi and fried ilish......the famous Bengali menu on a rainy day. I am getting nostalgic but I never cry over it! I create the same ambience here to nurse my pain....pain of living far from my own place. On a rainy day, at the Singapore suburbs, you might get the smell of fried hilsa and khichdi. Singapore, off course is the facilitator here. Very good quality hilsa are available in the wet markets, mainly imported from Burma. The best quality hilsa are from Padma river of Bangladesh and the Ganges of India.
Very less spices are required to cook this fish. Too much use of spice spoils the unique taste of this fish. This super soft fish is cooked in the oil it releases while cooking. I romanticise with rain and ilish together on a rainy day. A rain drenched evening, tiny drops running down, poetry and hilsa....tuned together by the very romantic me.
Hilsa fish[illish] : 1kg
Plain Yogurt : 250 gm
Mustard Paste : 1tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Green Chilli : 4
Kalonji[nigella seeds] : 2 pinches
Mustard Oil : 2tbsp
Clean and wash the fish pieces properly. Apply salt and turmeric and rub well.
Beat the yogurt and add to the fish. Make a paste of black mustard, green chillies adding salt so that the paste do not turn bitter. Add to the fish and marinate everything well.
Keep aside for half an hour. Heat oil in a pan. Temper with kalonji.
Place each fish carefully along with the marinade on the wok.
Turn over after 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water after 3-4 minutes.
Cook for another 3 minutes at medium to low heat. Goes best with plain rice.