Hilsa or Ilish or Tenualosa elisha is probably the most popular fish of Bengal. Belonging to the herring family, the fish is consumed not only in the Indian subcontinent, but also extensively in Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand as well as Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. The texture of fish is quite oily, which makes it ideal for both frying and frying. In Bengal, no part of the fish is left uncooked – the head is often cooked in a snout with colocasia leaves and stems, the tail end often ends in a tauk or ambol, and the fish is often cut to the skin only. It is fried to crisp and brown and is often cooked in oil, some green chilies and hot rice.
At Aheli in Kolkata’s The Peerless Inn, Hilsa is typically celebrated throughout the month of July, all the way to September, with a specially curated Hilsa festival featuring fish in various avatars. Debashree Roy Sarkar, President, Corporate Development, Peerless Hotels Ltd., said, “We bring to you the smokeless Ilish, or deboned and smoked Hilsa, for those who love fish but are afraid of the tiny bones in it.” “Ever since we introduced. It was a huge hit at the very beginning of our journey, and guests continue to love it 27 years later. We also have a Hilsa thali, where we include a complete set of dishes from start to finish Let’s try to. Will everyone have fish in some form or the other – whether it’s head or roe.”
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The Question of Sustainability and Hilsa
The rivers of Bengal witnessed a sharp decline in the number of Hilsa in the last few years. Overfishing, and the use of small nets, resulted in large numbers of juvenile hilsa being caught, resulting in a drastic reduction in the catch of full-sized hilsa. But, in the face of it, many hotels and restaurants have taken a proactive decision not to buy Hilsa under a certain weight. Debashree said, “We prefer at least 1.5 kg of Gangetic Hilsa by weight. It’s not cheap, but we know it’s fresh and it’s not juvenile, and it tastes great.” He is among the growing number of hoteliers in Bengal who have taken this decision keeping in mind the sustainability factor along with the consumers.
How to Make Shorshe Eilish
The pungency of freshly ground mustard pairs beautifully with the soft, buttery fish, and the smell of green chilies adds to the heat. Banerjee’s homemade recipes are kept as simple as possible, but the quality of the ingredients is key here. Fresh, good quality hilsa, cut into large pieces, simmered gently in a mustard-filled gravy, then served with hot rice, preferably a medium grain, but not overly aromatic, as it tastes of hilsa takes away from. .
750 grams. Hilsa fish (cut into 6-7 pieces)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
4 big green chilies
100 ml. Mustard oil + few drops to finish
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
salt to taste
Soak mustard seeds in hot water for at least 1 hour, preferably 2. Strain and make a paste with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 large green chilli. The paste should not be thin, so it is ideal to use a sill or a mortar or pestle to make this paste.
Apply salt and turmeric powder on Hilsa fish. To cancel.
Reserve 2 tbsp mustard oil. Heat the remaining oil. Fry the hilsa on a medium flame from both the sides till light golden (about 30-35 seconds per side). Remove and keep aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of fried Hilsa oil to the remaining mustard oil, and heat it over high heat until the oil is really hot but not smoking. Add kalonji, reduce the heat, and immediately add mustard paste and 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 cup water.
When the water starts to boil, add fish and green chilies to it. You can chop up a couple of them to add to the heat. Then add salt as per taste. Mix everything, cover and cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes. Add few drops of raw mustard oil, then cover and switch off the flame. Let it steam for 5 minutes, then serve with hot rice.