Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Ilish Macher Matha diye Palong Shak is a traditional Bengali dish that combines the head of the Hilsa fish, known as “Ilish macher matha” in Bengali, with spinach, referred to as “palong shak.”

This delectable dish showcases the flavors of the Hilsa fish along with the nutrient-rich goodness of spinach.

Bengalis have a deep affection for Hilsa fish and consider it a delicacy.

The head of the Hilsa fish is particularly known for its flavorful meat, making it an excellent ingredient for various culinary creations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is a traditional Bengali dish that combines the head of the Hilsa fish with spinach.
  • The Hilsa fish head is marinated with spices, fried until golden brown, and then combined with cooked spinach to create a flavorful and nutritious dish.
  • The dish showcases the unique taste of the Hilsa fish head, known for its rich and buttery flavor, along with the earthy notes of spinach.
  • Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak can be served with steamed rice or traditional Bengali bread, such as paratha.
  • Variations of the dish can be made using different leafy greens, such as bottle gourd leaves, Malabar spinach, or water spinach, to create alternative flavors and textures.

The Ingredients:

  • Hilsa Fish Head – 2 Nos (cleaned properly)
  • Spinach – 500 gms (cut and cleaned)
  • Snow Pea – 200 gms (cut and cleaned)
  • Eggplant 1 piece (cut and cleaned)
  • Potato – 1 piece (peeled, cut and cleaned)
  • Ginger, Garlic and Onion Paste – 4 Tablespoons
  • Onion – 1 piece (chopped)
  • Turmeric Powder – 1 Tablespoon
  • Red Chili Powder – Half Spoon
  • Kashmiri Red Chili Powder – Half Spoon
  • Coriander Powder – Half Spoon
  • Cumin Powder – Half Spoon
  • Bay Leaf- 2 Nos
  • Dry Red Chilis – 2 Nos
  • Panch Phoron (Indian Blead of Five Spices) – Half Spoon
  • Mustard Oil 3 Tablespoons
  • Salt – As required

How to Cook Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak (Step by Step Images)?

1. First, marinate the Hilsa fish heads with a pinch of salt and turmeric using your bare hands. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Marinating the Hilsa fish heads with a pinch of salt and turmeric

2. Fire up the Chulha or your gas stove and heat a pan. Add oil to it.

Adding oil to a pan

3. Start by frying the Hilsa fish heads when the oil is hot. Fry them by flipping them on all sides.

frying the Hilsa fish heads

4. Take them out when they are fried.

Taking out fried hilsa fish heads

5. Add a little more oil to the pan and then add the bay leaf, dry chili, and Panch Phoron (Indian blend of five spices). Stir it and add the onions when the aroma comes out from the spices.

Adding bay leaf, dry chili, Panch Phoron and stirring

6. Add the onions, lightly fry them, and then add the vegetables such as potato, eggplant and snow pea. Stir-fry them for 5 minutes and add half a spoon of salt.

Adding the onions add vegetables such as potato, eggplant and snow pea

7. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion paste and sauté it. When vegetables are half cooked, add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin.

Adding the ginger, garlic, and onion paste, turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin

8. Mix it well and add a little water. Sauté it again.

Adding a little water

9. Add water and half a spoon of salt.

Adding water and half a spoon of salt

10. Add the fish heads and spinach or Palong Shak. The color of the spinach also remains vibrant when it is added at the end. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes.

Adding the fish heads and spinach

11. After 10 minutes, Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is ready as the gravy gets dried up, the veggies look properly cooked, and the masalas are perfectly blended with the fish heads and the rest of the dish.

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is ready

12. Pour Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak into a bowl.

Pouring Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak into a bowl

Pro Tips for Cooking Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak

Here are some pro tips to help you cook Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak:

Choose Fresh Ingredients: It is crucial to select fresh and high-quality Hilsa fish heads and spinach. Fresh ingredients will enhance the flavors and overall taste of the dish.

Properly Clean the Fish Head: Before marinating the fish head, make sure to clean it thoroughly. Remove any scales, gills, and internal organs. Rinse it under cold water to eliminate any impurities.

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Marinate the Fish Head: To infuse flavor into the fish head, marinate it with a mixture of turmeric, salt, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Allow the head to sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This step enhances the taste and tenderizes the meat.

Adjust the Spice Levels: The spice levels can be adjusted according to your preference. If you prefer a spicier dish, increase the amount of chili powder or add some chopped green chilies. Conversely, if you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili powder or omit the green chilies.

Fry the Fish Head Correctly: When frying the fish head, use a shallow pan or skillet and add enough oil to cover the head partially. Fry it on medium heat until it turns golden brown on both sides. Be careful not to overcook the head as it may become dry.

Cook the Spinach Just Right: While cooking the spinach, avoid overcooking it, as it can lose its vibrant green color and become mushy. Sauté or blanch the spinach until it wilts and becomes tender, retaining its bright green hue.

Combine the Fish Head and Spinach Carefully: When combining the fried fish head with the cooked spinach, do it gently to avoid breaking the head into small pieces. The intact fish head will add visual appeal to the dish.

Let the Flavors Blend: After combining the fish head and spinach, let them simmer together for a few minutes on low heat. This allows the flavors to blend, resulting in a harmonious combination of tastes.

By following these pro tips, you can elevate the flavors and presentation of Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak, ensuring a delightful culinary experience. Enjoy cooking and savoring this delicious Bengali dish!

What to Serve with Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak?

When serving Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak, you have several options to complement the dish and create a well-rounded meal. Here are some traditional accompaniments that pair well with this Bengali delicacy:

Steamed Rice: A popular choice is to serve the dish with steamed white rice. The fluffy rice provides a neutral base that allows the flavors of the fish head and spinach to shine. You can also opt for fragrant rice varieties like Basmati or Gobindobhog to enhance the overall experience.

Bengali Pulao: Another classic pairing is to serve Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak with fragrant Bengali-style pulao. The aromatic rice cooked with whole spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, adds a delightful aroma and complements the flavors of the dish.

Roti or Paratha: If you prefer bread instead of rice, you can serve the dish with Bengali-style roti or paratha. These Indian bread varieties are soft and flaky, providing a perfect vessel to scoop up the fish head and spinach.

Feel free to mix and match these suggestions or explore other traditional Bengali sides to create a well-balanced and satisfying meal with Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak.

How Does Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak Taste?

Hilsa Fish Head with Spinach Taste

Here’s a breakdown of the flavors you can expect:

Hilsa Fish Head: The Hilsa fish head is known for its rich, fatty meat and unique flavor profile. It has a distinct, slightly sweet taste that is often described as buttery or melt-in-your-mouth. The marinade used on the fish head, with spices like turmeric and chili powder, enhances the flavors and adds a subtle kick of heat.

Spinach (Palong Shak): Spinach brings its own earthy and slightly bitter taste to the dish. When cooked, it becomes tender and imparts a pleasant, mild flavor. The spinach acts as a backdrop to the fish head, providing a fresh and vibrant element to the overall taste.

Spices: The spices used in the dish, such as turmeric, chili powder, and salt, add depth and complexity to the flavors. Turmeric brings warmth and a hint of earthiness, while chili powder adds a mild heat. The overall spice level can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.

Textures: Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak offers a combination of textures. The fried fish head provides a crispy exterior, which contrasts with the tender and succulent flesh on the inside. The spinach, when cooked just right, retains its softness and adds a delicate texture to each bite.

Overall, the dish offers a delightful balance of flavors, with the rich and distinct taste of the Hilsa fish head complemented by the mild, earthy notes of spinach.

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The spices used in the marinade and seasoning add depth and complexity, creating a flavorful experience. It is a dish that showcases the unique characteristics of Bengali cuisine and is sure to leave a lasting impression on your palate.

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternatives or variations to Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak, here are a few options:

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Lau Shak: Replace the spinach with bottle gourd leaves (lau shak). Lau shak has a slightly sweet and delicate flavor that pairs well with the richness of the Hilsa fish head. The cooking process and spices can remain similar to the original recipe.

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Pui Shak: Pui shak, or Malabar spinach, can be used as an alternative to spinach. Pui shak has a mild and slightly tangy taste that adds a unique flavor to the dish. It is often cooked in a similar manner to spinach, making it a suitable replacement.

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Bori Diye Jute Shak: Jute leaves (jute shak) are another option to consider. They have a distinct, slightly bitter taste that adds a unique flavor profile to the dish. You can also add sun-dried lentil dumplings (bori) to enhance the texture and taste.

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Kalmi Shak: Kalmi shak, or water spinach, can be used instead of spinach. It has a slightly crunchy texture and a mild, refreshing taste. Cooking it with the fish head will create a different flavor profile while maintaining the essence of the dish.

These are just a few alternatives that you can explore to create different variations of Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak. Feel free to experiment with different leafy greens and flavors to suit your taste preferences and culinary creativity.

Recipe Card:

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak (Hilsa Fish Head With Spinach)

By Mita Mondal
Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is a traditional Bengali dish that combines the head of the Hilsa fish (known as "Ilish macher matha" in Bengali) with spinach (referred to as "palong shak").
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marination time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 262 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pieces Hilsa Fish Head  (cleaned properly)
  • 500 grams Spinach (cut and cleaned)
  • 200 grams Snow Pea (cut and cleaned)
  • 1 piece Eggplant (cut and cleaned)
  • 1 piece Potato (peeled, cut and cleaned)
  • 1 piece Onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Red Chili Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Coriander Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Cumin Powder
  • 2 pieces Bay Leaf
  • 2 pieces Dry Red Chili
  • ½ tablespoon Panch Phoron
  • 3 tablespoons Mustard Oil
  • Salt to Taste

Paste

  • 3 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 piece Onion (pasted)

Instructions
 

  • Begin by marinating the Hilsa fish heads with a pinch of salt and turmeric. Gently rub the mixture onto the fish heads and let them sit for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a pan on your gas stove or Chulha and add oil to it.
  • Once the oil is hot, carefully place the marinated fish heads in the pan. Fry them by flipping them on all sides until they turn golden brown. Remove the fried fish heads from the pan.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan and then add the bay leaf, dry chili, and Panch Phoron (Indian blend of five spices). Stir the spices and add the onions when the aroma releases.
  • Lightly fry the onions and then add the vegetables such as potato, eggplant, and snow peas. Stir-fry them for 5 minutes and add half a spoon of salt.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, and onion paste to the pan and sauté it until the vegetables are half cooked.
  • Once the vegetables are halfway cooked, add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin. Mix the spices well with the vegetables and add a little water. Sauté the mixture again.
  • Pour water into the pan and add half a spoon of salt. Stir everything together.
  • Return the fried fish heads to the pan and add the spinach or Palong Shak. The vibrant color of the spinach is preserved when added towards the end. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, your Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is ready. The gravy should be reduced, the vegetables properly cooked, and the spices well blended with the fish heads and the rest of the dish.
  • Transfer the Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak into a serving bowl and enjoy.

Video

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Notes

Choose fresh ingredients: It's important to select fresh and high-quality Hilsa fish heads and spinach for the best flavors. Fresh ingredients enhance the overall taste of the dish.
Cleaning the fish heads: Before marinating the fish heads, make sure to clean them thoroughly. Remove any scales, gills, and internal organs. Rinse them under cold water to eliminate any impurities.
Marination time: Marinating the fish heads with salt and turmeric helps enhance the flavor. Allow the heads to sit in the marinade for at least 10 minutes, but you can marinate them for longer if desired.
Adjusting the spice levels: The amount of spices can be adjusted according to your taste preferences. If you like a spicier dish, increase the amount of chili powder or add chopped green chilies. For a milder flavor, reduce the chili powder or omit the green chilies.
Frying the fish heads: When frying the fish heads, use a shallow pan or skillet and add enough oil to partially cover the heads. Fry them on medium heat until they turn golden brown on all sides. Be careful not to overcook them, as they may become dry.
Cooking the spinach: Avoid overcooking the spinach, as it can lose its vibrant green color and become mushy. Sauté or blanch the spinach just until it wilts and becomes tender, retaining its bright green hue.
Combining the fish heads and spinach: When combining the fried fish heads with the cooked spinach, do it gently to avoid breaking the heads into small pieces. Intact fish heads add visual appeal to the dish.
Letting the flavors meld: After combining the fish heads and spinach, allow them to simmer together for a few minutes on low heat. This allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a harmonious combination of tastes.
Serving suggestions: Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak pairs well with steamed rice, pulao, or traditional Bengali bread like roti or paratha. Choose your preferred accompaniment to complete the meal.
Experiment with variations: Feel free to explore variations by substituting spinach with other leafy greens like bottle gourd leaves (lau shak), Malabar spinach (pui shak), or water spinach (kalmi shak). You can also add sun-dried lentil dumplings (bori) for added texture.
By keeping these recipe notes in mind, you'll be able to prepare a delicious and satisfying Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak with the desired flavors and textures. 

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak (Hilsa Fish Head With Spinach)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
262
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
7
g
Cholesterol
 
0.3
mg
0
%
Sodium
 
1020
mg
44
%
Potassium
 
1483
mg
42
%
Carbohydrates
 
33
g
11
%
Fiber
 
11
g
46
%
 
10
g
11
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
Vitamin A
 
13060
IU
261
%
Vitamin C
 
83
mg
101
%
Calcium
 
201
mg
20
%
Iron
 
7
mg
39
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Ilish Macher Matha Diye Palong Shak is a delightful Bengali dish that brings together the flavors of the Hilsa fish head and spinach.

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The rich, fatty meat of the fish head blends harmoniously with the earthy and mild taste of spinach, creating a balanced and flavorful experience.

The spices used in the marinade and seasoning add depth to the dish.

Whether served with steamed rice, pulao, or bread, this traditional delicacy offers a unique culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of Bengali cuisine.

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