Hilsa in Mustard and Yoghurt (Shorshe Doi Ilish)

The Hilsa fish is a delicacy for the Bengali community. Back when I was a kid, we used to wait for the Hilsa season when my father would bring the prize catch from the local market and my mother would cook the Hilsa with Mustard. Hilsa was also associated with football almost like a mascot for the famous East Bengal team. When East Bengal won a big match the price of Hilsa shot up. It was an emotional affair back in those days and remains an integral part of the Bengali food tradition even today. Coming back to this recipe, it’s a fast and easy dish to put together provided you have access to mustard paste. Remember to add a couple of green chilies and a pinch of salt while preparing the mustard paste. This will ensure the mustard does not taste bitter. Hilsa is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and therefore good for lowering risks of heart diseases. You must be wondering what the need is for Yoghurt if one is using mustard. The Yoghurt compliments the mustard to balance the sharp spice hit and leaves a light tangy feel on the palate. So try out this classic Bengali fish recipe. Happy Fooding around!



Hilsa in Mustard and Yoghurt (Shorshe Doi Ilish)


The Bong Connection



Ingredients :

  • 4 large Slice/Steak of Hilsa
  • 3 Tsp Yellow Mustard seeds
  • 1Tsp Black Mustard seeds
  • 4 heaped Tsp Yoghurt or thick Dahi, smoothly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp Mustard Oil
  • ½ Tsp Kalonji (Nigella seeds)
  • ½ Tsp + 1 pinch Turmeric powder
  • ½ Tsp + 1 pinch Red Chilli powder
  • ½ Tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 24 Green Chillies (according to spice level)
  • Salt according to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing


Instruction :

  1. Wash, clean and pat dry the fish. Slather 1 pinch each of the turmeric, red chilli  powder and salt over the fish and leave them aside for 5 – 10 mins
  2. In the meantime soak the mustard seeds in 1/3 cup of water for 5 mins. Transfer them to a blender and grind them along with a pinch of salt and one or two green chillies in a blender. Blend them till they feel smooth to the touch.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pan heat oil. When hot reduce the flame to a medium and fry the pieces of Hilsa in batches for just a minute or so on each. Do not over fry the fish. Keep them aside.
  4. In a small bowl add the dry powders, that is, red chilli, Kashmiri chilli, turmeric powder and mix them together in 6 Tbsp of water.
  5. Using the same pan and the same oil, first add the Kalonji/Nigella seed. Once they start spluttering reduce the heat to a low and add the dry spice powders that was mixed with water in Instruction no.3. Keep stirring constantly till the watery spice mix reduces and the raw smell of the spices disappears. Keeping the flame at a low add the mustard paste followed by the beaten yoghurt. Keep stirring continously till oil comes out from the sides and the masalas are all cooked.
  6. Add around 2 cups of water. When the water starts boiling add the fish and salt as needed. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes only. Finally sprinkle some coriander leaves and take off from flame. Serve hot with steaming rice.

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