Doi Ilish | Bengali Recipe of Fish


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Hilsa is known as “Queen of fishes”. Ilish (Hilsa fish) is very popular in South Asia, especially among Bengalis and Odiyas. It is the National fish of Bangladesh. It is also known as Elish mas in Bangladesh. In North America, Hilsa is not always available. So, they sometimes use Shad fish as a substitute. It is also popular in Andhra Pradesh (India) and is called Pulasa in Telegu. It is popular among Sindhis as well.

According to most of the Bengalis and Odiyas, including me, Hilsa is the tastiest fish in this world. The reason for its popularity is its unique taste and texture. But, I must say that every Bong has a special place in their heart for Hilsa fish. During some special occasions, Hilsa is often bought in pairs in many Bengali houses. It is also used in few Bengali weddings as a “Tattwa” gift. When it comes to Ilish (Hilsa fish), my nostalgia couldn’t stop me to tell about this supreme fish.

My native town is on the banks of Brahmaputra river which is famous not only for its hugeness and history but also for its fresh and tasty fishes. Since my childhood, I am a Hilsa Fish lover and can have it in any form except raw. My relatives used to call me cat because of my Hilsa fish eating skills. Other than fish curries, my mom used to prepare many dishes with this fish head like Ilish Macher Matha Diye Bandhakopi, Ilish Macher Muro/Matha Diye Moong Dal, Ilish Macher Matha/Muro Diye Kochu Shaak etc.
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I tried the Doi Ilish recipe for the first time in one of the reputed Bengali restaurants of Kolkata and I just loved the preparation. It is so light and delicious. After moving out of Kolkata, I started missing the typical native food badly and Doi Ilish is one of them. So, I decided to prepare this dish at home. I have already prepared this dish countless number of times. Now, Doi Ilish has become one of our regular recipes to treat our palate.

This Bengali fish recipe is super easy to prepare. It requires minimal ingredients to be prepared. It is a full proof recipe, and nothing can be wrong with it. Bengali spices can create magic and make any fish curry taste WOW. But Doi Ilish is an exceptional recipe. In this recipe, other than a tiny amount of Mustard paste, no whole spices or ground spices are used.

Hilsa fish itself has a unique flavour and is popular for this. So, it is quite important to uphold its original taste while cooking it. Doi Ilish is always served with Steamed Rice because it tastes best when it is served with unflavoured rice.

Doi Ilish step by step photos and instructions have been provided in the ‘Instructions’ section of the recipe. But before directly jumping into the recipe, let me share few interesting facts about the dish and Hilsa fish.


Recipe of Hilsa Fish

There are many traditional and authentic Bengali recipes of fish that are prepared with Ilish mach (Hilsa fish). Each recipe is a masterpiece and they are frequently served in almost every special ceremony like marriage, annaprasan etc.

Ilish mach (Hilsa fish) can be prepared in many ways like frying, steaming, roasting or baking and very preparation tastes amazing. Barishali Ilish, Shorshe Ilish, Ilish Bhapa, Doi Ilish, Ilish Macher Tok, Ilish Macher Paturi etc. are the finest examples of Hilsa fish recipe.


Doi Ilish - How to resist Yogurt to curdle?

  • It is very important to whip the Yogurt very properly.
  • Always make sure that the Yogurt is at room temperature while cooking and not chilled.
  • It’s always better to add some Mustard paste or Mustard powder into the Yogurt before cooking, to resist it from getting curdled.
  • Always cook the Yogurt at lowest flame.
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What kind of Mustard seeds to be used in this recipe?

Normally two types of Mustard seeds are used in cooking, yellow and black. Black mustards have strong pungent flavour as compared to yellow mustard seeds. Yellow seeds have mild flavour.

Note: Sometimes few black mustard seeds have bitter taste.

Most of the people use yellow Mustard seeds for this fish preparation. I have also used yellow Mustard seeds for this preparation.


How to cook Hilsa fish for the recipe?

For the recipe of Hilsa fish, I have taken four pieces of the fish to cook. First, I have scaled and washed the pieces nicely and then marinate them for few minutes. I have used Turmeric powder, Salt and Yogurt to marinate the pieces.

In this preparation, green Chillies play an important role to flavour up the dish. The flavour of fresh green Chillies pair up amazingly with the pungent flavour of Mustard paste and the spicy hot kick takes the dish to a different level.

In this Doi Ilish preparation, I have not fried the fishes before cooking the curry. I have directly steamed them in the Yogurt-Mustard sauce. Many people prefer to fry the fish before cooking into the sauce. But I preferred to stick to the authentic recipe to uphold the tradition.

I have prepared the dish in Kadai. I have added the fish pieces and the Yogurt sauce into the kadai and then cooked it with lid in low flame. Many people also use microwave, oven and even pressure cooker to prepare this traditional dish.

Mustard oil is one of the biggest secrets behind the unique taste of Bengali fish recipes. Yes, Bongs always use Mustard oil for cooking fishes. It will give the best taste and flavour to the dish.

For Doi Ilish, it is very important to whip the Yogurt properly before cooking. So, I have whipped the Yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Then I have added green Chillies, Salt, Turmeric powder, Mustard seeds paste and mixed them nicely.

In this preparation, I have added a small amount of sugar too to balance the sourness of Yogurt and spicy hot taste of green Chillies.

Many Bengali recipe have already been shared in my previous posts. You can check few of them like


..And Many more…
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Ingredients:


To marinate the fish
  • Ilish mach (Hilsa fish), 4 large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 2 tablespoons Yogurt, whipped


Other ingredients for the Gravy
  • 1 Cup Yogurt, whipped
  • ½ tablespoon yellow Mustard seeds paste
  • 4-5 green Chillies, slit
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup Water
  • Mustard oil for cooking



Instructions:
    For the Mustard paste
  1. Soak Mustard seeds in water for 10 minutes.
  2. Put the Mustard seeds, green Chillies and a little water into a jar of mixer grinder.
  3. Grind them for a minute and make a smooth paste with them.


    For the Gravy
  4. Cut and clean the Ilish mach (Hilsa fish) and marinate them with Salt, Turmeric powder, Yogurt and keep them aside for 10 minutes.


  5. Add 1 cup of Yogurt into a large mixing bowl and whip it till smooth and silky.
  6. Add slit green Chillies into it.
  7. Add Mustard seeds paste into the bowl.
  8. Add Turmeric powder into it.
  9. Add salt, sugar, water and mix all the ingredients gently.
  10. Take a wide pan where all the pieces can be placed.
  11. Put the pan on flame and let the pan become dry.
  12. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Mustard oil into the pan and let the oil become hot.
  13. Put the flame in low and pour the Yogurt mixture into the pan.
  14. Mix the Yogurt mixture with the oil nicely.
  15. Add the Hilsa pieces carefully into the pan.
  16. Put on the lid and cook it for 15 minutes in low flame.
  17. Flip the tender pieces very carefully and cover the pan again.
  18. Cook it for another couple of minutes in low flame.
  19. Switch off the flame and put the pan down.


Serving Instruction
Transfer the Doi Ilish into a serving bowl or on a serving plate. Serve hot or warm to enjoy the best taste. Pair up the dish with steamed Basmati rice and enjoy the authenticity of Bengal.

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