I think Hilsa fish needs no introduction. Those who are cognized with Bengali recipes and culture must know that Hilsa fish is one of the famous fish of Bengal. Being the national fish of Bangladesh, it is very popular in "India's Assamese-, Bengali, Oriya-speaking regions and in Telugu-speaking regions (the fish is known as Pulasa or Polasa), in Pakistan (known as Pallu Machhi) and in Gujarat, it is known as either Modenn or Palva". Whether in pujas or in any auspicious ceremony offering an Ilish/Hilsa or a pair of Ilish/Hilsa is considered very propitious in Bengal. More than 50 ways Ilish/Hilsa can be cooked into delectable dishes. Apart from the scrummy taste of the fish one minus point of it, is the presence of excessive amounts of tiny bones which requires trained eaters/hands to handle.
One of the most famous recipes of Ilish/Hilsa fish is Bhapa Ilish or Steamed Hilsa. I don’t know the exact authentic way of cooking the dish. Still in Bengal most of the families follow the traditional way of cooking Bhapa Ilish, that is, marinating the fish with mustard, poppy seed, coconut paste and mustard oil, and steam it whether in a cooker, or folding the fish into banana leaves and then steaming it (Though the version of steaming in wrapped Banana leaf is famously known as Paturi).
Now our life has become so fast that we are always looking for shortcuts to save our time. To cook Bhapa Ilish we put straight the dish into an oven. I took one more short cut step, saving the pre-heating time, directly put the dish into the Micro-oven. There will be thousands of recipes on net on Bhapa Ilish/Steamed Hilsa, and again I am also adding another, more or less the same recipe. I just thought that being a Bengali, my blog would not be successful if I would not post some traditional dishes of my place and share with you all. So here I am with the dish Bhapa Ilish/Steamed Hilsa cooked in a crosscut.
Ilish/Hilsa fish- 4 pieces
Mustard Paste- 2 ½ table spoons full
How to make the Mustard Paste:-
1. Soak the mustard seeds into water for 10-15 mnts.
2. Add a green chilli and a pinch of salt and grind into a smooth paste.
3. If you wish you can strain out the skin of the seeds.
Yoghurt- 2 table spoons full
Mustard oil- 3 table spoons
Water- ½ cup
Turmeric Powder- ¼ tea spoon
Salt – as per taste
Green Chilli- 2-3
1. Make a nice paste with the mustard paste, poppy seed paste, yoghurt, water, turmeric powder and salt. Take a microwavable bowl with a lid. Put the fish and the mixture and mix well. Add the green chilli as a whole.
2. Scatter 2 table spoons of mustard oil on the mixture. Put in the microwave and cook for 10 mnts. Bring out the bowl turn the fish very carefully then again cook for 10 mnts more. Keep on checking that the dish should not get very dry. If in between cooking the juice gets too dry add little water.
3. After the dish is done, scatter the leftover 1 table spoon of mustard oil and serve with rice or pulao.
Along with the mustard and poppy seed paste, coconut paste can also be added.