I start today with tradition. If the picture up there seems salavatingly amazing, then you got to try these recipes one after another. Today I bring to you the most integral part of any big Bengali Bhoj (BBB) - ILISH or Hilsa or Indian Shad or Hilsa Herring. This is a great recipe for a relaxed sunday lunch. Very few ingredients in the best part of the dish, followed by the time taken from start to finish is just 10 Minutes.
Indian Shad, Hilsa or Ilish, Bangladesh’s national fish is a pride for any bong ever born. From the Pride that a Kaku (uncle) feels when he walks past the envious stares of his neighbours and mates, with a big ilish tail peeking through his fish-carrying-bag; to the pride of a Kakima’s(aunty’s) fish filleting skills with a sharp iron cutting device (Boti); its pride all the way!!! And the best of it all has to be, when their young child starts eating the fish, without the fine bones stuck to his throat. I remember when I did that, and till date my dad looks at me with pride in his eyes!! :-P
Enough of jibber-jabber about bongs, now to the fish in question; ‘Ilish’. A perfectly cooked piece of ilish is ideally soft, flaky and full of flavour. I prefer making steamed ilish in a mustard sauce (Ilish Bhanpe) over and over again. In fact I repurposed my introduction to the dish on it. It tastes the best when the fish is freshest. The flavour of this flaky white fish lies in the numerous tiny bones all around its body, which makes eating this fish a skill that bongs have mastered. Ilish is an acquired taste, but trust me, when u do acquire the taste, you wont be able to let it go...
But now, let's talk of the times when you have those last few pieces lying in the freezer; since a week or 2. That would be the perfect time to make this simple dish. The fresh milk in the stew will keep the fish moist and flavourful all along. It's a pride of a dish, for a pride of the fish!!! Respect it the most tomorrow, because come Monday, and its time for the vegetarian navratra to start.
Unlike Baking, where the measurement of each component is related to science behind it being made properly, stove-top cooking is much relaxed and based on taste. I am going to provide you with a basic measurement idea, but suit yourself and tailor make this dish based on your and your family's taste buds.
1 Cup Milk
1 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
Green chillies to taste
2 big pinches of Kalonji/Kala Jeera/Nigella Seeds
1 small dry red chilly
2 tbsp of Mustard Oil
4 steak kind pieces of Hilsa, which needs to be marinated in salt and turmeric for minimum of 30 minutes.