Bhapa Ilish

Bhapa Ilish

Bhapa Ilish

Bhapa Ilish is a traditional Bengali dish that celebrates the unique flavors of Hilsa fish, also known as Ilish. This dish involves steaming the fish in a piquant mustard sauce, which imparts a delightful taste and aroma. Follow the recipe below to prepare Bhapa Ilish at home.


  • 500g Hilsa fish, cut into 4-5 pieces
  • 4 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 green chilies, slit
  • 1/2 cup thick yogurt
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Banana leaves or aluminum foil for wrapping


  1. Soak mustard seeds and poppy seeds in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water and grind them into a smooth paste, adding a little water if required.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mustard-poppy seed paste, turmeric powder, slit green chilies, yogurt, mustard oil, and salt. Mix well to form a thick marinade.
  3. Marinate the Hilsa fish pieces with the prepared mustard sauce, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Let the fish marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Cut banana leaves into large squares and lightly toast them over an open flame to make them pliable. Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil.
  5. Place each marinated fish piece onto a square of banana leaf or aluminum foil, along with some of the marinade. Fold the leaf or foil to form a sealed packet, ensuring no steam can escape.
  6. Prepare a steamer by filling it with water and bringing it to a boil. Place the fish packets in the steamer, making sure they don’t overlap.
  7. Steam the fish packets for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and tender.
  8. Carefully remove the packets from the steamer and let them rest for a few minutes before opening. Serve the Bhapa Ilish hot with steamed rice and enjoy the delicate flavors of this traditional Bengali dish.


Updated: 21 April 2023 — 06:40

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