• Friday, February 27, 2015


Shimmers of hilsa

By Asma Aziz

July and August is the peak season for ilish (hilsa), the national fish of Bangladesh. Although there are some typical ways of preparing ilish, this delicious fish can be cooked in many different ways.
A full grown hilsa can be up to 55cm long and can weigh up to 1.5 kg. Hilsa is very nutritious, each 100g of its meat containing approximately 270 calories and 22g protein, as well as being rich in minerals and vitamins. Its fat contains Vitamins A and D.

Hilsa roast
Using a pressure cooker to cook hilsa is quick, and also softens the bones till they are almost dissolved, making it easier to eat.
1½ kg (approximately) hilsa            
2 to 3 tbsp ginger paste        
1 to 2 tbsp garlic paste        
1 tsp coriander powder    
½ tsp cumin powder        
1 tbsp (or according to taste) green chilli paste    
1 to 1½ tbsp cinnamon powder    
1 cup yoghurt (plain)        
1 cup yoghurt (sweet)        
¾ cup oil            
¾ cup ghee            
Salt (to taste)            
1 cup beresta (fried onion)    
Scale and clean out the fish. Wash well and cut in half. Marinate the hilsa with all the ingredients except the fried onions, oil and ghee, for about 2 hours. In a large pressure cooker, add the oil, ghee and all portions of fish along with the marinade. Pour in 8 cups of water. Lock the lid and cook at high temperature for about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 1½ hours. Remove from heat and let it rest for about half an hour. Open the lid of the pressure cooker very carefully and place the two halves of the hilsa in an oval oven-safe dish. If the gravy in the pressure cooker is very watery, continue cooking it over low heat until it thickens and the oil settles on the surface, then pour over the hilsa. Cover the entire fish with the fried onions. Cover the dish with a lid or tinfoil, and bake on low heat for about half an hour.

Hilsa with coconut milk
8 pieces (big) hilsa                
½ cup coconut milk (thick)        
1 tbsp yellow mustard paste        
1 tsp turmeric powder        
½ tsp coriander powder        
2 tbsp garlic paste            
4 to 6 green chillies (cut lengthwise)    
Salt to taste
½ cup oil                
In a bowl, rub in the salt and spices with the hilsa pieces. Heat oil in a pan (over low heat) and carefully add in the hilsa pieces. Wash out the bowl with half cup water and add this to the pan. Add the coconut milk, then bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Carefully turn over the hilsa pieces, then cover and continue cooking over low heat until the oil settles on the surface.

Hilsa roe (eggs) with potatoes
2 hilsa roe                    
½ cup onions (sliced)                    
2 cups potato (julienned or cut like match sticks)    
1 tsp ginger paste                    
½ tsp garlic paste                    
¼ tsp gumin powder                    
¼ tsp turmeric powder                
¼ tsp chilli powder                    
Salt to taste
½ cup oil
Heat oil in a pan over low heat. Add in and fry the roe till light brown, then cut into small pieces. In the same oil, fry the onions till golden brown. Set aside about a table spoon of these fried onions. Add all the spices and ¼ cup of water, and cook until oil separates from the spices.  Add the potatoes and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes over low heat, stirring in between. Add in the roe, cook for another 5 minutes stirring a few times. Garnish with the fried onions that were set aside.

Hilsa with pineapple
8 pieces (big) hilsa            
1 (medium) pineapple        
½ cup onion (sliced)        
½ tsp garlic paste        
½ tsp Ginger paste        
¼ tsp cumin powder        
Green chilli paste (to taste)
Salt to taste
½ cup oil            
Cut pineapple into half lengthwise, and scrape out the pulp with a spoon. Keep aside. In a pot, fry the onions till golden brown.  Add the pineapple pulp, salt, all the spices, and ¼ cup of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and keep stirring until the oil separates from the spices.
Add in the hilsa pieces and ¾ cup hot water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat, turning the pieces very gently once in between. If you wish, you can add some sugar at this stage. Cover and cook over low heat until oil settles on the surface.

Photo: Star Lifestyle Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TAGS: Hilsa Hilsa roast Hilsa roe

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