Friday, 27 November 2015

Ilish Begun (Hilsa and eggplants cooked in Mustard)

There are times when every efficient household in every bustling city goes through unimaginable stress. Mine is going through one right now. It is at these times when we stop and realise life is too short to be running all the time. Mornings are too beautiful to be missed. And dinners are too important to be skipped. It’s just the dinner where everyone in the house sits and dines together. Though my mind tells me that it should be a bowl of fresh out of garden salad that I need to dig in, but the heart guides you to a more elaborate carbohydrate filled and rich dinner that brings everyone together on the table. Couple it with a mismanaged household and all the running stress; and, this dish is born. 

I have been working from home since long. And suddenly today when I have to be out of the house each day, every day at the same time, somehow nothing seems to work in my favour. Everyone has expectations too high, and I have tolerance too low; which makes life really miserable for many. Yes my laundry basket is full and overflowing at times and a kitchen which is never clean by my standard. Absence of a proper housekeeper is evident from every corner of my home.  

While I sort through my troubles, I figured it is time for indulging in a dish that has given meaning to a life of a Bong more than once. My freezer has been ignored in these trying times, to the effect that it’s been more than 15 days since these last few pieces of fish were jailed inside. It’s a delicacy for us, on palette as well as on the wallet. I couldn't risk it on the untrained hands of my help to cook it properly. I for sure didn't have time, bouncing from one task to another. Finally, yesterday something dawned on me and i found these few fishes lurking in the dark corners of my freezer. I decided it is time now to come out of the induced slumber of inertia, and make something delicious, yet easy and comforting for my family to savour. My Ilish Begun is easy, sharp and gets the palette interested in the right level at the right time!


Ilish/ Hilsa/ Indian Shad- 6 steak pieces (
2 tbsp whole Yellow mustard seeds
1.5 tsp whole Black mustard seeds
1 dry red chilly whole, cut into 2 pieces
½ tsp of nigella seeds
½ tsp or less of ginger paste (just a pinch)
5 tbsp of mustard oil
2 long brinjals (small size) cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Turmeric powder to taste
8 green chillies slit


Smear the fish well with salt and turmeric to marinade, and keep it aside.

Marinade the eggplant pieces in salt, sugar and turmeric and keep it slanted on the kitchen counter for 20 minutes. 

Make a paste of both types of mustard with a pinch of salt and 2 green chillies. Once ground to the desired consistency, keep it aside. 

Now in a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil with red chilli, and wait till it heats up while the chilly turns dark brown. Tip in the marinated eggplants and fry till it turns golden brown. Take it off the flame and keep it aside. 

In the same pan, heat 2 more tbsp of oil to smoking. Lightly fry the fish pieces and keep it aside. 

Now in the pan add the last bit of oil and crackle the nigella seeds. Tip in the mustard paste, and fry for 30 seconds. Add salt and turmeric to taste, followed with a half cup of water. 

Once the paste starts bubbling add in the eggplants and give everything a good toss. Add another half cup water, and let it come to a steady simmer. 

Tip in the fish pieces and adjust the water the way you wish it to remain. Let everything simmer on low heat, partially covered for 2 - 3 minutes. 

Taste for seasoning, and switch off the gas once you are certain of it. An additional drizzle of cold pressed Mustard oil will bring up the flavour and taste many folds. Serve it hot with steamed rice. 

P.S.- I had left over pieces which included the head and the tail of the fish as well. These cuts are extremely delicious and I am quite against of throwing these away. Respect your food and keep the wastages to minimum. Cheers!!


We are always eager to hear your take on food, my way!!!


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