Food & Travel South Asia

Sorshe Ilish: Hilsa in Mustard Gravy

Sorshe Ilish (Hilsa with mustard gravy) is an authentic Bengali dish made with mustard seed paste. It’s a traditional Bengali dish. The dish is popular among the people in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Nothing is more blissful than a plate of steamed rice with ilish fish with mustard gravy. The flavour of mustard and the taste of ilish is just made for each other. Anyone fond of fish, will truly obsess over the Ilish for the rest of their lives.

During this recent visit by my parents, we decided to go for authentic Bengali dinner on an evening. My dad suggested for Bijoli Grill at Banga Bhavan on Hailey Road, New Delhi.

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Along with some traditional Bengali dishes like aloo-posto, potoler dolma, kancha-amer chutney and mishti doi that we ordered for our dinner, there was a very delicious and star item of the night and it was sorshe ilish. We had a very difficult decision to make — to choose between daab chingri and sorshe ilish. We opted for sorshe ilish. It’s taste was simply out of this world! It goes well with steamed rice.

Sorshe Ilish: Hilsa in mustard gravy at Bijoli Grill, Banaga Bhavan, New Delhi
Sorshe Ilish: Hilsa in mustard gravy at Bijoli Grill, Banga Bhavan, New Delhi

Ilish aka Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) aka hilsa (ইলিশ in Bangla) is a species of fish related to the herring. Hilsa was the name the British gave to the fish. Ilish is most popular among Bengalis for its aroma and taste. Ilish is considered the tastiest fish due to its distinctly soft oily texture, mouthwatering flavour and superb mouthfeel. The fish is called machher raja (meaning king of fish) in Bengal.

Hilsa fish -1

Ilish appears at virtually every important occasion in Bengali life. All auspicious occasions including annaprashon (a child’s first rice-eating ceremony), jamai shoshti (an annual ceremony where the sons-in-law are fussed over by the in-laws and fed an elaborate meal), poila boishakh (Bengali New Year), Durga puja, Kali puja, wedding feasts…

Joda Ilish in totwo
The families of grooms present hilsa, wrapped in a red sari and adorned with jewellery, to the bride’s family in Bengali marriages. (Credit: Wikipedia)

In Bengal, ilish can be smoked, fried, steamed or baked in young plantain leaves, prepared with mustard seed paste, curd, eggplant, different condiments like jira (cumin) and so on. It is said that ilish can be cooked in more than 50 ways in a Bengali kitchen! Ilish roe is also popular as a side dish.

shorse ilish

Sorshe Ilish (Hilsa with mustard gravy) is an authentic Bengali dish made with mustard seed paste. It’s a traditional Bengali dish. Nothing is more blissful than a plate of steamed rice with ilish fish with mustard gravy. The flavour of mustard and the taste of ilish is just made for each other.

Ilish is an oily fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids and helps develop healthy brain and nervous system. Recent experiments have shown its beneficial effects in decreasing cholesterol level in rats and insulin level. 

Anyone fond of fish, will truly obsess over the Ilish for the rest of their lives. 🙂

14 comments

  1. You should have taken it a level up and said Shordshe Bata enhances any dish whether it is Ilish or Chingri or even a veggie like Potol.
    Am sure, you guys really enjoyed the Shorshe Ilish but my favourite is Shorshe Chingri !!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, shorshe bata enhances taste and flavour. That night they had daab chingri. But ilish being the ilish we opted for ilish. Most importantly, I don’t get many opportunities to relish ilish, so I don’t want to miss a chance. We, three of us, are ilish fans.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Though I am not very fond of fish, this picture of Shorshe Ilish is too tempting. I think it is Aam Paana in the glasses. We have a Bijoli Grill in Powai, as well as a Bhojohori Manna. I love to have the aloo posto, shukto, mocha, and dhokar daalna.

    Liked by 1 person

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