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Sunday, January 3, 2021

Ilisher (Hilsa) Patla Jhol

Ilish or Hilsa is the favorite Bengali fish and makes it into the favorite top 3 food list of a lot of Bongs. My husband keeps telling me the story of his classmate who always ate a whole Ilish on his birthday. Apparently it used to take him 3 hours to battle all the fish bones, but at the end he’d always emerge victorious.

Ilish is the national fish for Bangladesh and provides for the livelihood for thousand in the lower Ganges delta. These fishes are anadromous and lives mostly in sea water but swims up the great rivers in the Bangladesh delta to spawn. Those from the Bangladesh river of Padma are considered to be the tastiest and the hardest to come by in India. In our childhood we’d mostly contend with the “lesser” Rupnarayan river’s Hilsa (also called Kolaghater ilish). The weird part is that being in US we get easier access to Bangaldesher-r ilish at our local desi store (International Food Bazaar in Bellevue, WA). 

Ilish is cooked in many different styles. However, for the best Ilish the simplest cooking method provides the best taste. The trick is ensuring that no strong flavor or masala is put in, so that the natural flavor of Ilish comes out.

Ensure that when you buy Ilish try to hit the sweet spot of around 2lbs (1 kg). Also wash the fish as less as possible.

Please checkout the video of this recipe on my youtube channel either by visiting the link or using the play button below.


  1. 5-6 slices of Ilish
  2. 1/2 teaspoon Kalonji/Nigella seeds
  3. Turmeric
  4. Mustard oil
  5. 5-6 Hot Indian Green Chilies
  6. 1 medium eggplant cut into chunks
  7. 1 tsp sugar
  8. Salt to taste


  1. Lightly wash and pat dry the fish slices and smear them with turmeric and salt.
  2. Heat mustard oil in Kadai/deep-pan . Once it starts smoking gently slide in the fish pieces. Be careful of the oil splatter!!
  3. Fry them till light golden yellow. You need to be very careful not to brown them. Remove the fish slices from the oil and keep them aside.
  4. We need to reuse the oil used for frying the fish since it already picked up the precious flavor of hilsa.
  5. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp of turmeric in a cup of water and keep it aside.
  6. Temper the oil in the pan with Kalonji and green chilies. When the spices starts popping up add chunks of eggplant to it. Sauté on medium high heat till the eggplants take a golden brown hue. Now pour the turmeric water to it. Season with salt and sugar.
  7. Once the water starts boiling, gently slide the fish pieces into it.
  8. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

This light ,soupy, golden yellow gravy tastes best with hot steaming rice.

Ilish or Hilsa Bhape

Ilish is one of the most loved Bong food. As I mentioned in my previous post ( there is a lot of stories and nostalgia behind it.

The hardest part of eating ilish is their bones. You have to fight with them to get the delicious flavor of the queen of all fishes. My lil one calls it “english fish” for whatever reason. The bong gene is evident in the way she eats it even though she had no “formal” training in taming the bones.

One of the most famous Ilish cooking style is the bhape. Ilish bhape can only be enjoyed with steaming hot white rice and doesn't really need any other accompaniments.

Today I am sharing with you my mom's recipe of ilish bhape which has been perfected over generations in Kitchens around the Ganges delta region in Bangladesh.

Please also checkout the video recipe on my youtube channel by clicking this link or on the play button below.


  1. Ilish Slices -  5/6 pieces
  2. Mustard seeds - 3tb spoon
  3. Freshly grated coconut - 4 tbsp
  4. green chilies - 8/10
  5. Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
  6. Turmeric powder - 2 tea spoon
  7. Salt

Procedure (using pressure cooker)

  1. Make a fine paste of mustard seeds, grated coconut 3-4 green chilies and salt. Add very little water.
  2. Take a pressure cooker safe bowl (like a steel tiffin box) and smear it’s inside with little mustard oil
  3. Arrange the fish pieces in a single layer and pour mustard paste over it so that it covers all the fish pieces
  4. Add the rest of the green chilies and mustard oil over it. Close the box.
  5. Place the box inside a pressure cooker. Pour water around the box.
  6. Close the pressure cooker and then cook it for 2-3 whistles.

Procedure of making in a Microwave Oven Or Traditional Oven

  1. Take a microwave/oven safe bowl and arrange the fish pieces in a single layer. Pour the mustard paste over it, so that it covers the fish pieces. Add the green chilies and mustard oil over it.
  2. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe cover or cling film and cook it for 6-8 mins.
  3. In case you are using a traditional electric oven, cover the bowl with aluminum foil and bake it for 25-30 mins at 375F

Peas or Koraishutir Kochuri


Peas Puri or Koraishutir Kochuri as bongs call it is brings on fond memory of Kolkata. It reminds me of the "freezing" 60°F (15°C) winters in Kolkata. It’s during that time fresh green peas hit the local market. The kids in the house were given the chore of taking the peas out of their pods. The yield rates were around 50%, the other 50% were stuffed in the mouths with small little hands.

These days in the world of frozen goodies, the famed Koraishutir Kochuri can be made any time of the year, all that is needed is a short trip to the local store. 

Please also checkout the video recipe on my youtube channel by clicking this link or on the play button below.


SERVING 16 pieces
  1. Frozen peas- 700gm 
  2. Ginger-2 inch
  3. Green Chili - 4-5
  4. Bhaja Mosla - 1tbsp
  5. Refined Oil - 3 tbsp
  6. Salt to taste
  7. All Purpose Flour– 2 cup
  8. Salt- 1/2 tbsp
  9. Sugar - 1 tbsp
  10. White oil or ghee(clarified butter) -2 tbsp
  11. Water - 1 cup ( Approximately 
  12. Refined oil for deep Frying


In a grinder add a little water, peas, ginger and green chili. Make a fine paste out of IMG_7367them.

Take oil in a frying pan. Add one pinch of asfoetida. Now add the paste you just made. Keep on stirring till the water completely evaporates and the pea mixture becomes dry and thick enough to make small balls out of it. Now add salt to your taste and if the peas are not sweet enough you can add little sugar to it. Let it cool and then sprinkle some dry roasted cumin powder.

IMG_7370Now we need to make the dough. In a wide vessel take the flour, salt and the oil or ghee for shortening. Rub the ghee into the flour with your finger tips. Now slowly add the warm water and knead it until the dough becomes soft and smooth. Cover it with a damp cloth or kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Once again knead it and make small ping pong sized ball out of it.

Take a ball you made out from the flour and keep it on your palm. Using the other IMG_7371palm press it and make a small disc. You can also use your rolling pin to make this disc. Make a small ball out of your pea stuffing and put it in the center of the disc.  Bring the sides together and cover the opening. Now flatten it with your palm.

Roll out by applying little oil on both the sides.

IMG_7373Take oil in a wok or kadai and heat it. Deep fry the kochuri till both sides puff up.

Traditionally koraishutir kochuri is had with chana dal or potato curry (aloor dum). However, this time when I made it we had some home made mango chutney from my Tamil friends, it made a killer combo.

Healthy option

If you are like me and need to take care of someone who is prone to over-eat you can take the healthier option of making Peas Paratha.

The stuffing is made exactly the same way. For the dough replace with whole wheat flour. While rolling out the dough use more dough to create larger parathas. Also the dip-fry step is omitted in the Paratha. Heat a tawa or a skillet. Place the paratha on the heated tawa and cook for half a minute. Now flip the other side and pour oil with a spoon around the edge. Cook this side and flip again. You will notice brown spots on the surfaces  when the paratha is cooked.