Fish,  Ilish macher bhapa / Steamed Hilsa

“Ilish maacher bhapa / Steamed Hilsa”

Hilsa fish is the national fish of Bangladesh and state symbol of West Bengal. They are also called ‘King of Fish’.

It is the most authentic and traditional cuisine of West Bengal. It is a very famous household dish and one of the signature cuisines of Bengal.  It is simple and easy dish to execute. Hilsa are generally available in monsoon. So this is a dish which is prepared during monsoon. The aroma of the steamed fish will increase your hunger. This recipe will definitely melt your heart. You will feel heaven inside your mouth.

Benefits of Hilsa/Ilish fish:-
Hilsa/Ilish is a very tasty fish which is rich in omega 3 fatty acid and is very helpful in development of brain. It is also beneficial for lowering cholesterol level.

Time required:-30 -40 mins. (approx.)


Can be served with: – Hot steamed rice.

Ingredients :-
·        Hilsa fish – 4 piece
·        Paste of mustard seeds – 1.5  tbsp (soak it for 01 hour)
·        Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
·        Yogurt- 2 tbsp
·        Gated coconut- 1.5 tbsp
·        Green chilies – 08
·        Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
·        Salt – as per taste
Mustard oil – 02 tbsp

Direction for the recipe:-

  1. Soak the mustard seeds in lukewarm water for 01 hour before cooking.
  2. Clean and wash the fish properly.
  3. Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric and keep them aside.
  4. To make the mustard seeds paste, 4-5 green chilies, salt and water in the seeds and grind them well. Your smooth paste is ready.
  5. Make a paste of poppy seeds separately.
  6. Cut the remaining green chilies in length wise.
  7. In a steel tiffin box, add the mustard and poppy seeds paste, yogurt and grated coconut and mix them well. Put the marinated fish and with your hand, coat the masala on the fish properly.
  8. Then add mustard oil and green chilies on the top of the fish. Cover the tiffin box with its lid tightly.
  9. Now in a kadai place the tiffin box and fill the kadai with water. Do not fill with water in the kadai up to the lid of the tiffin box. Keep the water level little below the lid so that when the water starts boiling, it will not enter inside the box.
  10. Turn on the gas and place the kadai. Cover the kadai and cook it in low flame. 
  11. As hilsa is a soft and delicate fish, it doesn’t need long time to get cooked. So, cook it for 15-20 mins. Turn off the gas. Take out the tiffin box and keep it under the water tap so that it cools down. When it cools down, remove the lid of the tiffin box and your mouth watering Ilish bhapa is ready to serve.

My tips:

  1. If possible buy Hilsa of big size around 1.5-2 kg or more in weight. It tastes better than the smaller ones.  
  2. Mustard seeds are available in two colours, black and brown. Black one is more rich than brown. To avoid digestion problem, I will suggest to use the brown one.
  3. According to your desired consistency of the dish, add required amount of water in the paste.
  4. Do not overcook otherwise the mustard seed paste will become bitter.

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