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Recipe: Shorshe Ilish

December 07, 2023 12:39 IST
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Joseph Manavalan's Bengali speciality Shorshe Ilish is made with the popular river fish hilsa.

The fried fish is served with a thick, spicy gravy cooked in mustard oil with plenty of green chillies to make it hot, hot, hot.

It's always accompanied with steamed rice and can be made in a jiffy if the fish is washed, cleaned and marinated in advance.

The turmeric powder gives it the bright yellow colour and the lightly toasted kalonji seeds add flavour to the dish.

Manavalan spent several years posted in Kolkata and picked up his Bengali cooking chops over there.

Shorshe Ilish

Serves: 2


  • 750 gm hilsa fish, cut into medium-sized 6-7 pieces
  • ½ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp black rai or mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp yellow rai or mustard seeds
  • 7 large green chillies, roughly chopped + 1 extra to garnish
  • 100 ml mustard oil + a few drops to finish
  • ½ tsp kalonji or nigella seeds
  • Salt to taste, around 1 tsp
  • Water


  • In a bowl, marinate the fish with a little of the salt and some of the turmeric powder.
    Mix well so that the pieces are well-coated.
    Keep aside.
  • In a blender, grind the mustard (black and yellow) seeds and the green chillies into a paste.
    Add some water, but make sure the paste is not too runny.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a frying pan or kadhai over medium heat.
    Fry the marinated fish, flipping once in between, until it's golden brown.
    Take off heat and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add the nigella seeds and let it crackle.
    Add the mustard paste and the remaining turmeric powder.
    Add a little water and mix.
    Let the paste come to a simmer and then add the fried fish pieces.
    Let it simmer in the mustard gravy for 5-6 minutes.
    Take off heat, garnish with a drizzle of mustard oil, a green chilly and serve hot with steamed rice.

Joseph Manavalan is the co-founder and chief innovation officer, Licious.

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