Shorshe Ilish (Hilsa Fish in Mustard Sauce)

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Immerse yourself in the rich flavors of Bengali cuisine with the iconic “Shorshe Ilish” – a culinary masterpiece that captures the essence of West Bengal’s gastronomic heritage. This delectable dish features tender Hilsa fish, bathed in a velvety mustard sauce that’s a harmonious blend of pungent and tangy notes. A symbol of Bengali culinary excellence, Shorshe Ilish marries the distinctively sharp aroma of mustard with the delicate, melt-in-your-mouth fish, resulting in a feast that delights both the palate and the senses. Elevating the art of cooking to a harmonious symphony of flavors, this recipe brings to your plate the warmth of tradition and the allure of fine dining.


For marinating the fish:

4-6 pieces of Hilsa fish (or any other fish of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the mustard paste:

3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2-3 green chilies (adjust according to your spice preference)
1/2 teaspoon mustard oil

Shorshe Ilish

For the main dish:

2 tablespoons mustard oil
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
2-3 green chilies, slit
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 cup warm water
Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) for garnishing


Clean the fish pieces and marinate them with turmeric powder and salt. Set them aside for about 15-20 minutes.

While the fish is marinating, prepare the mustard paste. Grind the yellow mustard seeds, green chilies, and mustard oil together to form a smooth paste. You can add a little water if needed. Set aside.

Heat mustard oil in a pan or kadai over medium heat. Once the oil starts smoking, reduce the heat and let it cool down a bit. This step helps reduce the pungent smell of mustard oil.

Add nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds to the hot oil. Let them sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the slit green chilies and sauté for a minute.

Add the turmeric powder and sauté for another minute.

Add the mustard paste and cook it for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let it burn.

Add warm water and mix well to make a smooth sauce. Allow the sauce to come to a gentle simmer.

Gently slide the marinated fish pieces into the simmering sauce. Cover the pan and let the fish cook for about 8-10 minutes on low-medium heat, or until the fish is cooked through.

Once the fish is cooked, check the seasoning and add salt if needed.

Garnish with chopped cilantro (coriander leaves).

Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

Shorshe Ilish is best enjoyed with steamed white rice.

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