Hilsha or as we call it “Ilish Maach” is a hot favourite of most Bengalis. We love fish and among all types of fishes Hilsha is the king in taste. No matter what you make with Ilish maach, its going to taste great! Back home you can get this fish fresh from the market but here in UK we get it in Indian shops, frozen and at least 8-10 months old. I am happy with that. Something is better than nothing. At least I get to eat it once in a while.
Sorshe Ilish is also called Ilish maach er jhal and one of my favourites. Ideally yellow mustard seeds are used to make the paste but I think they are bit difficult to find here. So I used black mustard seeds. The biggest problem with the black mustard paste was a bitter after taste I used to end up with each time I cook it. I have tried different techniques to get rid of the bitter taste but never been that successful. Finally I switched to English mustard which is a great shortcut for me and easily available in the supermarkets.
This is a very easy to make recipe if you have all the ingredients handy. Also, if you don’t have Hilsha you can use Herring which tastes similar to Hilsha.
800 gm Hilsha (cut in to pieces)
2 tbsp of English mustard paste
2 tbsp of white poppy seed paste (We call it posto in Bengali)
1 tsp of nigella seeds
1tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
3-4 fresh green chillies
3-4 tbsp Mustard oil
Clean the fish and lightly rub them with little turmeric and salt and keep it separately. In a bowl make a mix of the english mustard, poppy seed paste, turmeric, chilly powder and salt. In a frying pan heat the mustard oil and shallow fry the fish pieces. Remove the pieces from the pan and add the nigella seeds and the green chillies in the remaining oil, fry for a minute then add the mustard-poppy paste to the hot oil. mix it well then add the fish pieces and cover them in the sauce. Cover the pan and cook it for 1-2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Serve with plain boiled rice.