Saturday, 15 August 2015

Shoshur Barir Sarshe Ilish (Mustard Hilsa – Bengali style)

Today I am going to talk about My silver beauty. I was born and brought up in Silchar, Assam. A place named Karimganj lied in the outskirts of the city which was walking distance from the Bangladesh border. May things come through the border, vegetables, PEOPLE and my very own famous silver beauty, PADMAR HILSHA ( for who doesn’t know, Padma is the branch of Ganges which flows through Bangladesh). The smell and taste of this species of HILSHA cannot be compared to any of its other siblings, if you haven't indulged yourself in this then believe me you have missed out on something in your life. Moving on, now we get into the part of how to make a delicious dish from the silver beauty. BANGAL (as people primarily of EAST Bengal, now most part in Bangladesh are called) cook it with onions whereas the people from WEST Bengal (are called Ghoti, it actually means metal water glass of a particular shape) do so without onions. Bengalis from West Bengal believe that  if they we add onion to the dish, the taste won't be that great, but the dish from EAST Bengal cannot start without onions. I belong to the onion clan (EAST Bengal), so from my childhood I have always had it with onions. And I got married into a family with origins in West Bengal. So the first time I saw the cooking of famous ILISH Bhapa (steamed Hilsa) from West Bengal, I was in a bit of a cultural shock, but it turned out to be a delightful  surprise, ate two pieces in no time. The taste made me forget about the etiquettes of a newly married woman. The taste is a bit different between the two but I am not the one to judge. I leave the verdict up to you. The recipe I am sharing with you today is the one without onions and i have named it "SHOSHUR BARIR SHORSHE ILISH"

Servings : 4 persons 

Ingredients :

  • Mustard Oil
  • Pachphoron ( 5 spices)
  • Turmeric  powder
  • Salt
  • Chilli Powder
  • Hilsa – 4 pieces

Method  :
The Hilsa fish is always washed first and then cut into pieces. This is done so that no aroma is lost. So take the 4 pieces and rub them with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

Mix the mustard paste to ¾ cup water and set side.

( How to make mustard paste ?  
Just pour the desired amount of mustard seeds (6-7 tea spoons ) , pour little water (to cover). Use your mixie to  make  paste. Do not over mix or else it will turn slightly bitter. You can add some green chilly ( without seeds) to neutralise the bitterness. I generally make that and store the remaining in an airtight container in a refrigerator. It stays good for upto 2 weeks)

Heat the mustard oil in a pan or kadhai and lightly fry the fish pieces (1-2 minutes). Drain and keep aside. In the same oil, add the slit green chillies and ‘pachphoron’ or 5 spices ( pachforon is Bengali name of 5 spices mixture - the green of fennel seed, black-mustard and nigella seeds, golden fenugreek and buff-coloured cumin seeds). Once they splutter, carefully pour the mustard mix into the pan. Be careful not to add the black husk of the seeds. Add salt and turmeric and let it come to a boil.

Carefully place the Hilsa pieces so that the gravy covers them. Cover with a lid and let it simmer on medium flame.

Turn after 3-4 minutes and let the gravy thicken. Check the seasoning and if needed add more slit green chillies. (If  the green chillies are not very hot, add little red chilli powder. If you face the same problem add chilli powder but traditionally this is meant to be cooked only with fresh green chillies. This literally brings out the delicate flavour of Hilsa combined with the mustard paste. Alternatively if the chillies are very hot then don’t cut them, rather with a heavy knife smash the chillies and add to the gravy. This gives a very good flavour without making it hot).

Once the water is absorbed and you have very thick gravy, pour the 1 tsp oil over it. Mix well and serve hot over a bed of steamed white rice.

If you like my recipe, do leave a comment here or press the ‘like’ button. 

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