Bhapa Ilish

2 years ago

This Bengali Hilsa recipe with mustard sauce looks beautiful but cooks swiftly. Perfect for upstaging your guests! Hilsa fish is steamed in pungent mustard, yogurt, and coconut paste.  Ilish Bhaape, also known as Shorshe Ilish Bhapa; meaning steamed mustard Hilsa. In the Indian Subcontinent, particularly in West Bengal, Hilsa is a very popular and sought-after culinary fish. Despite its sophisticated appearance, this recipe is rather simple to prepare, requiring few ingredients, no particular technique, and little time. This recipe is excellent for entertaining guests. Hilsa fish price levels are often high because of its numerous health benefits and soft, flavorful taste. It is one of the prime reasons for its popularity.

Nutritional Advantages of Bhapa Ilish

  • Rich in healthy and quality fatty acids and Omega-3
  • Rich source of proteins
  • Grate source Calcium to strengthen bones
  • Prevents Coronary heart diseases.
  • Hilsa fish also provides vitamin A and vitamin D to your body.
  • It improves the health of the skin.

Region: West Bengal

Nature: Main Course/ Curry

Cuisine: Indian

Prep Time: 15 Min

Cook Time: 15 Min

Total Time: 30 Min

Serves: 04

Main Ingredients:



Ilish /Hilsa fish

250 gms

Yellow Mustard seeds

10 gms

Brown Mustard seeds

10 gms

Green chilies

5-6 no

Desiccated Coconut

50 gms

Whisked Yoghurt

25 gms


to taste


¼ tsp

Turmeric powder

½ tsp

Mustard oil

2-3 tbsp


  1. Soak yellow and brown mustard seeds in water for 2 hours.

  2. Clean the Hilsa/ Ilish fish and cut it into 1-inch-thick slices. This recipe made best with thicker slices.

  3. Wash the hilsa fish once and pet try with the help of clean kitchen towel.

  4. Many Bengali people do not prefer to wash the fish also as it will remove the blood and oil from it.

  5. Drain the mustard seeds of the water they’ve been soaking in and add them to a grinder jar.

  6. Add 4 green chillies, roughly chopped, along with the salt and water.

  7. Grinding green chilies with the mustard ensures that it doesn’t turn bitter.

  8. Grind these to a fine paste.

  9. Scrape down the sides of the jar and grind as many times as it takes to form the smoothest possible paste. The finer the grind, the better the flavours.

  10. Now, add the desiccated coconut to the grinder jar. Grind once again until the coconut become a smooth paste.

  11. Transfer this paste to a tiffin box.

  12. In Bengali household people normally tiffin box to make this recipe because it easily available and there is less chances of water to seeping into it if lid properly closed.

  13. You can also use small tray, bowl or even cake moulds for steaming.

  14. Now add beaten yoghurt, sugar, turmeric, and mustard oil. Mix until the oil is fully incorporated.

  15. Add the fish slices, one piece at a time, and coat it with the spices.

  16. Use your hands to make sure every part of the fish, is well coated.

  17. Slit four more green chillies and place them on the Ilish pieces.

  18. Cover it with aluminum foil and keep it aside for 15- 20 min so that fish soak up the marination.


  1. Put a steamer on a medium flame, fill the water till and let it boil

  2. If you don’t have steamer with you than take a deep vessel like patila or a presser cooker and put wire stand, on which you can place your utensil with fish for steaming, into it and fill with water until stand immerse totally in water.

  3. Make sure it doesn’t reach up to more than one fourth the height of your container, otherwise boil water could be seeping into in spoil flavors.

  4. Once the water has come to a boil, place the tiffin box steel bowl/ flat pan on the stand. steamer or patila whatever you are using for steaming.

  5. Tightly close the lid and steam the fish in a steamer or pressure cooker or over water bath for 10-15 minutes.

  6. Remove from the pan and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes before serving.


  1. You could use prepared mustard paste instead of preparing your own mustard.

  2. To add some variety to the dish, use other mustard pastes such as Dijon Mustard, English Mustard, French Mustard, or any other Mustard Paste instead of conventional Mustard Paste.

  3. The fattier fish (without the roe egg) is great for this recipe. Remove any eggs from fish before steaming since they may not fully cook. You can use them in other recipes of bhaja (fry) or jhol (curry/stew).

  4. Green chilies can be added or removed depending on the level of heat and your personal inclination.

  5. Fresh coconut can be substituted for desiccated coconut.

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