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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut banana leaves into large squares and lightly toast them over an open flame to make them pliable. Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Steam the fish packets for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and tender.
- 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.