Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hilsa baked with mustard

The perennial Bengali fishà Hilsa is back again. Strange that even in Muscat, you manage to find Hilsa. As my fishmonger Nizam put it, “Bhai, absolutely fresh from the Padma. Only two months on ice.” But then what else could a Bengali guy do when faced with Hilsa.

To top it all, there’s this new chappie in office, who had been eating my ear’s out with stories of home cooking, lau-chingri, posto bata, sukto, einchorer dalna, note shak bhaja. So there I was standing with a kilo of tucked under my arm and no idea of what to cook.

In the end I decided on “Illish Paturi”. Back at home, the hilsa would have been swathed in layers of fresh banana leaf and left to cook in the embers of a dying wood or coal fire, but Muscat being as removed from Calcutta as fish from the desert, what follows is my modified version.

Ingredients (Serves 1):

  • Hilsa- 250 gm
  • Mustard seeds- 3 tbsp
  • Green Chillies- 6 large
  • Mustard Oil- 2 tbsp (You can cut it down for a diet h ilsa bake, but it does leave something lacking).
  • Salt to taste

Preparation (Processing 10 mins+ Baking Time 25 mins~Total Time 40 mins)

Soak mustard seeds in warm water for half an hour. Cle

an fish in fresh water. Grind mustard seeds, 4 green chillies to fine paste. Add mustard oil and salt to the paste. Spread this paste evenly on the fish. Slit and place the remaining green chillies on top of the fish. Wrap the fish in double layers of aluminum foil. Seal the packet from the edges, as you see in the pic below, so that steam does not escape. Do not wrap the fish too tightly as otherwise the pack may burst in the oven.

Set oven to 250 C and bake for 25 mins. If you have time on your hands, I would recommend cooking at 150 C for 40 mins. The longer time you can give it low temperatures, the better do the flavours mingle.

Serve hot with rice.

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  • Though we are using a lot of mustard and green c hillies, the baking process tempers down the spices. So if you want to have it really spicy, I would recommend serving green chillies on the side for accompaniment.

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