Ilish/Hilsa is an essential part of Several lives of South Asia. When I was researching about Ilish, I came across many interesting facts and though to share it. It is collected mostly from Wikipedia. It amazed me completely to know that Ilish/Hilsa not only plays important role in West Bengal, but also in Odisha, Southern Gujarat, Tripura, Assam and Mizoram too. It is the national fish in Bangladesh. It is a popular food amongst the people of South Asia and Middle East too. It is known as Sboor in Iraq and Terubuk in Malaysia and Indonesia. It is found in estuaries and rivers mostly.
Ilish is an oily fish and is rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. It helps in lowering cholesterol and insulin levels. It is so oily that it needs a little oil to get fried. And in this process it releases a lot of oil which are used to eat with hot steamed rice among Bengalis and Bangladeshis and Odiyas with salt and green chillies. ILISH plays a very important part among us in many occassions. ILISH bhaja is a must at the start of Bengali New Year in the month of April followed by Shorshe Ilish be it steamed/bhaape or in paturi / patrani form.
In West Bengal and Bangladesh, Ilish can be fried, steamed, smoked, baked, prepared with mustard seeds and poppy seeds paste, curd, eggplant(begun er jhol) or with cumin (jeera) seeds too. From Poila Baishakh to important occassions like Marriage, Rice, Baby Shower Ceremonies and even Funerals(Niyombhongo) and also Jora Ilish offerings and eating are all done on auspicious days where Goddess of music and art Saraswati are worshipped in spring and also for Lakshmi Puja, where its incomplete without Ilish in autumn. So we can see how attached we are with Ilish.
My interest for Ilish is more connected due to the Macher Dim /eggs that comes with it and even though people say that it’s more tasty without eggs I can eat just the dim bhaja and give the fish to my hubby happily. What I love about Ilish even after having so much bones in it, is the simplicity in cooking it and that it takes so less time. My favourites are Ilish Bhaja with Tel/Oil and Green chillies, the eggs and the crispy skin, Raw Ilish Curry with Eggplant/Begun, Doi Ilish and Ilish Paturi.
So was planning for a long time to prepare Ilish Paturi at home but either the banana leaf was not available or the ilish fish was not there in the market. Anyway, got hold of both few weeks back and that’s it, didn’t miss the opportunity and started prepping up. It was an all Ilish on one platter affair. ILISH Bhaja which is really very simple thing to do, the hot oil/tel with Kacha Lonk,i. e., green chillies, steamed rice and Ilish Paturi with Gobdhoraj Lebu, Kaffir Lime.
For the Fish fry or the Mach bhaja, you need to marinate the fish steaks with turmeric powder and salt. Set them aside. Fry them 10 minutes before serving. I don’t prefer too much crispy ones as that ruins the soft texture of the fish making it hard and chewy. Use the oil to eat with rice….aromatic amazing Oil.
Now let’s begin with the Ilish Paturi.
Ilish/Hilsa – 3 To 4 pieces
Black Mustard Seeds – 3tbsp
White Mustard Seeds – 1 and half tbsp
Poppy Seeds – 1 and half tbsp
Green Chillies – 7 pieces
Turmeric Powder – 1/2tsp
Salt as per seasoning
Mustard Oil – 2 cups
Banana Leaf – 3 to 4 sheets
Strings to tie
Water to steam
🦈First clean the fish steaks and dry it with a paper towel and keep aside.
🦈Now in a mixer grinder blend the black and white mustard seeds, Poppy seeds, 3 green chillies, salt, turmeric powder, a little water and mustard oil and get a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
🦈Now wash the banana leaf squares and towel dry them. Roast them lightly on the flame. Now grease one side of the leaf sheet with mustard oil.
🦈Now marinate the fish steaks with the mustard paste and keep it for half an hour
🦈After half an hour, take a Banana Leaf sheet, put the marinated fish in the centre, pour in some more mustard paste and some mustard oil. Now place one green chilli slitted or whole on the fish.
🦈Now start folding the sides in like a parcel and tie it up with a string.
🦈Finish doing all of them.
🦈Now start boiling some water. Here there are some technique. You can place the parcels inside a steel Tiffin box and then put them in the boiling water. I didn’t have a steel Tiffin box, so I placed the parcels inside a steel utensil, place them on the boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes. And it’s done.
💬Serve it hot and eat it after the Mach Bhaja/Fish Fry. You can eat it directly too. You can do this in microwave oven too. In that case you have to steam them on the microwave steamer thatthe company usually give for 8 minutes on High. There is another technique to do Paturi. Will share about it in another post with another fish cut very soon.
Enough said now its your turn!!! Tell me what’s your favourite?? Is Ilish your favourite fish too?? How do you prefer to eat Ilish??? What’s your method of cooking??? Any tips you want to share?? Leave the feedback down in the comment section.
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Signing Off with the promise to come back soon. Till then Happy Durga Puja…eat…..drink….enjoy…shop till you drop…give endless chitchat….and don’t miss the pandal hopping.