Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ilish Parbon continues (Hilsa festival continues) with Doi-Ilish

The insatiable thirst for some high-quality Hilsa from the Padma river in Bangladesh is an inherent longing in all Bengalees. The supplies are not immense as a major bulk of it is exported to the West & whatever little that remain is luxuriously priced. The Monsoons arrived late this time around in the Valleys of the Western coast of India and the search for good Hilsa started. However, looking at the price, the fish-mongers did not dare to get them from their suppliers, they thought they will be at a loss as nobody will buy which is not entirely incorrect. We have Sagar, the best fish-monger I have known in this part of the City who supplies the best of all kinds of Fish. We have been buying from him for the last few years and never ever have been disappointed. I consider it to be unfair if I post any Fish preparation without the mention of Sagar, a major part of the credit definitely goes to him. Days passed & the price went down from Rs 1700/Kilo to Rs 700/Kilo & Sagar brought the Queen of Fish – Hilsa !! We got it the first time and were thoroughly satisfied, I made some Ilish Paturi in the Microwave, the post of which is here, I made it following Preeoccupied, my one-stop shop for all Bengali recipes. Got it for the second and the last preparation was so satisfying that I made it again, however, I still had more pieces left; the week had started and mid week we normally do not get a chance to sit together for a meal, otherwise I had thought of some Khichudi (Hotch-Potch), the recipe of which is here with some fried Hilsa which tastes heavenly in the Monsoons. Hence, I pondered and decided on Doi-Ilish (Hilsa in a Curd based sauce) & this is what I am going to share today. This recipe (in fact most Hilsa recipes) is very easy to make, does not have elaborate steps & is definitely a super hit at all Bengali homes (not more than the Ilish Paturi or Ilish Bhape though).

Here is a list of the things we will need:

1.   Hilsa – 2 pieces, washed.
2.   Onions – 2 medium, boiled (boiled to mellow down the strong flavor of Onions so that it does not overpower the impeccable taste of Hilsa)
3.   Curd – 100 gms (I used homemade).
4.   Gram flour / Besan – 2 tsps.
5.   Green Cardamoms – 4-5.
6.   Green Chillies – 5 + 3 slit (We will use 3 of them to garnish)
7.   Turmeric Powder – a pinch to get the golden color.
8.   Pepper Powder – 1 tsp.
9.   Salt to taste.
10.                Sugar to balance.

11.                Water – about 150 ml.
12.                Mustard Oil – 3 tbsps + few drops.
13.                Warm water – to add later in case the gravy thinks more than desired.

Here is how I did it :

·         Boil the Onions, let them cool down, cut of the eyes, blend in the blender.
·         In a Wash the Hilsa pieces and pat dry on paper towels.
·         In a big bowl put all ingredients from 2 to 11 and whisk till no lumps are there.
·         Add the Fish pieces and mix gently so that they get soaked in the gravy.
·         Drizzle the 3 tbsps of Mustard Oil on top and give one final mix. Cover and let it sit for 30-45 minutes.

·         In a thick bottomed pan, pour everything in and let it come to a boil and simmer.

·         Cook for 5 minutes on one side and then turn the fish pieces and cook for another 5 minutes. If the gravy thickens more than desired, add warm water (NOTE : Please do not add normal water to any Non-Veg preparation while it is cooking, it kills the flavour and makes the meat come off the bone, always use lukewarm water).
·         Once done take off the Stove and pour into a shallow serving dish, garnish with the left over slit green chillies and a few drops of mustard Oil. Serve with plain white Rice.


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