Hilsa or Ilish or Tenualosa ilisha is presumably the most well-liked fish from Bengal. Related to the Herring household, the fish is just not solely consumed within the Indian subcontinent, but additionally extensively consumed in Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, in addition to in Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. The texture of the fish is somewhat oily, which makes it splendid for each braising and frying. In Bengal, no a part of the fish goes to waste – the top usually is cooked right into a ghonto with Colocasia leaves and stems, the tail finish usually results in a tawk or awmbol, and the fish itself is commonly simply fried until the pores and skin is crisp and brown and is commonly served with the oil its cooked in, just a few inexperienced chillies and scorching rice.
In Aaheli at The Peerless Inn, Kolkata, the hilsa usually is widely known all by the month of July, all the way in which until September, with a specifically curated Hilsa competition that options the fish in several avatars. “We brought in the Dhumrogondho ilish, or deboned and smoked hilsa, to those who love the fish but are afraid of the tiny bones in it,” mentioned Debasree Roy Sarkar, President, Corporate Development, Peerless Hotels Ltd. “Ever since we introduced it right at the beginning of our journey, it was a huge hit, and 27 years down the line, guests still love it. We also have a hilsa thaali, where we try to incorporate a full set of dishes from the start to finish that would all have the fish in some format – whether it’s the head or the roe.”
The Question of Sustainability and Hilsa
The previous couple of years noticed a drastic fall within the variety of hilsa within the rivers of Bengal. Overfishing, and using smaller-mesh web resulted in an enormous variety of juvenile hilsa being caught, which additional resulted within the drastic discount of full-sized hilsa within the catch. But, going through that, many accommodations and eating places took an lively choice to not purchase hilsa below a sure weight. “We prefer the Gangetic Hilsa, at least 1.5 kilo, by weight. Its not cheap, but we know its fresh and isn’t juvenile, and tastes great” famous Debasree. She is amongst a rising variety of hoteliers from Bengal who’ve taken this choice holding in thoughts the customers in addition to the sustainability issue.
How to Make Shorshe Ilish
The pungency of freshly floor mustard seeds pairs fantastically with the delicate, buttery fish, and the trace of inexperienced chillies add to the warmth. The recipe made within the Banerjee family is stored so simple as doable, however the high quality of the substances is the important thing right here. Fresh, good high quality hilsa, reduce in massive chunks, is gently simmered in a mustard-laden gravy, then served with steaming scorching rice, ideally a medium-grained one, however not too aromatic, as a result of that takes away from the flavours of the hilsa.
750 gm. Hilsa fish (reduce into 6-7 items)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
4 massive inexperienced chillies
100 ml. mustard oil + just a few drops to end
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
Salt to style
Soak the mustard seeds in heat water for not less than 1 hour, ideally 2. Strain and make a paste with 1/4th teaspoon salt and 1 massive inexperienced chilli. The paste shouldn’t be runny, so its splendid to use a sil or mortar or pestle to make this paste.
Apply salt and turmeric powder on hilsa fish. Set apart.
Reserve 2 tablespoon of the mustard oil. Heat the remaining oil. Fry the hilsa on either side over medium excessive warmth until gentle golden (about 30-35 seconds per aspect). Remove and put them apart.
To the remaining mustard oil, add 1 tablespoon of the fried hilsa oil, and warmth it over excessive warmth until the oil is de facto scorching however not smoking. Add the nigella seeds, decrease the warmth to a simmer, and instantly add the mustard paste and 1/4th teaspoon turmeric, adopted by 1 cup water.
Once the water begins boiling, add the fish and inexperienced chillies. You can slit a few them to add to the warmth. Then, add salt to style. Stir all the things up, cowl and prepare dinner over simmering warmth for 8-10 minutes. Add just a few drops of uncooked mustard oil, then cowl and switch off the warmth. Let it prepare dinner in its personal steam for one more 5 minutes, then serve with scorching rice.