Sorshe Ilish or Hilsa in Mustard Gravy is a signature dish from Bong’s Kitchen. If you are a fish lover and have not tried Hilsa yet, then try it this monsoon. The taste of Hilsa or Ilish is totally different from any other fish. Hilsa or Ilish mostly available during monsoon.
Earlier Hilsa or Ilish was mainly available during monsoon (only 2 to 3 months) but nowadays especially in Bengal you get Hilsa almost throughout the year (except few years). However, you will get the actual taste of the Hilsa fish during monsoon.
Since we stay out of Bengal, really miss Hilsa a lot. As soon as rainy season starts, we visit fish vendors and ask them when are you bringing Ilish (my husband does this job 😀). Let’s learn few basic things before you are going to purchase Ilish.
How to identify Ilish or Hilsa?
Current generations often fail to identify the original Ilish and often vendors take this chance and sell fishes which looks similar to Ilish. For example Chandana fish looks quite similar to Ilish but taste differs. So before you go to market you should know how to identify Ilish.
Ilish can be identified by its shiny scales and distinct fish odour. Head of fish is small size and triangular in shape and both ends are pointed whereas middle portion is flat and compressed. If you touch it, can feel the oily body of it. However, over the period of time you gather enough experience to choose the right fresh Ilish from the market.
One more question I often get from friends ‘Where can I buy fresh Ilish or Hilsa in Bangalore?’
There are varieties of fish vendors who sell Ilish in Bangalore. HAL market is one of the biggest fish market in Bangalore and you get almost all varieties of fishes here including Ilish. However, you should bargain properly to get it at good price. Though some vendors sell Chandana in the name of Ilish (yes we had that experience too, it becomes really differentiate for the novice). However, if you know a fish vendor then request him to bring you Ilish (as we do with local vendors from whom we purchase fish throughout the year). As the cost of Ilish is high so small fish vendors only bring it on request basis.
Nowadays Supermarkets like More Megastore in some areas keeps good stock Ilish (mostly over the weekends) and they sell original fish. So you can visit supermarket to avoid fraud.
Which size of Ilish is good in taste?
Always purchase Ilish weighing over 1Kg to experience the actual taste of it. Price of per Kg Ilish also varies depending on the size. Ilish below 1 Kg are not so good in taste. But if you are not getting bigger size can manage with a smaller one. But at least you should relish it every monsoon. If you are eating Ilish for the first time, watch out for fish bones. Apart from the central bone it has plenty thin other fish bones. So debone it carefully while eating the fish.
Today I am sharing the most common recipe of Sorshe Ilish or Hilsa in Mustard Gravy for my readers. The taste of fish enhance the taste of the mustard gravy. It was really good, however not like the same what I used have in my childhood days. The reason is again the fish! Though the fish was good but it came all the way from Bengal covered with ice and that’s why the original taste of ilish was missing somewhere. Still it was heavenly good for Bongs who cannot think their monsoon without a bite in Ilish.
Important Tips of Cooking Sorshe Ilish
Bengalis are very much familiar with the taste of mustard gravy. Those who are not aware, sorshe ilish has the pungent taste of mustard paste and mustard oil. While making mustard paste you should use black and yellow variant of mustard. Blend the mustard seeds properly and after that slowly add water to make a paste. If you add water initially you don’t get smooth paste of the quantity is less. Avoid using too much of mustard paste which can make the gravy bitter in taste. If your cooking two pieces then reduce the quantity of mustard paste accordingly. Always use freshly prepared mustard paste for this recipe. Do not use the American style mustard sauce which is quite different from mustard seed paste. Also avoid using ready made mustard paste or powder which claims to be good but I would say please do not spoil the taste of your fish by using those.
Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Sorshe Ilish or Hilsa in Mustard Gravy
Hilsa or Ilish – 4 pieces
Black Mustard Seed Paste – 2 teaspoon
Yellow Mustard Seed Paste – 2 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon
Nigella Seeds – 12 teaspoon
Green Chilli – 4 to 5
Salt to taste
Mustard Oil – 1/4 cup
1. Marinate fish with salt and turmeric powder for half an hour.
2. Make a smooth paste of mustard seeds and a green chilli in grinder.
3. Now add 1/2 cup water in the paste and add turmeric powder, little salt and mix it well using a spoon.
4. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the marinated fish and keep them in a bowl. After frying if you see too much oil left in pan then take out the oil keeping 2 tablespoon in the pan. (Do not discard the oil you can have it with white rice just adding some salt, if you are on diet please avoid doing this 😜)
5. Now in that oil add nigella seeds and green chilli. Allow them to splatter.
6. Next add the mixture of mustard paste & turmeric powder (add the mixture slowly, so that skin of mustard seeds which has settle down should not come in the gravy as they make the gravy little bitter). If required add little more water.
7. After that add salt as per taste. Cover the pan with a lid for few minutes. Once the gravy starts boiling add hilsa pieces and again cover with a lid and cook under slow flame for 5-7 minutes.
8. Switch off the gas and add a teaspoonful mustard oil from top and serve with plain rice.