Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Recipe

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Delve into the exquisite flavors of Bengal with the Ilish Macher Tel Jhal, a mouthwatering Hilsa fish recipe that captures the essence of traditional Bengali cuisine.

This dish boasts a rich blend of spices and the unique aroma of Hilsa fish that makes it a favorite among seafood lovers.

To prepare this dish, you’ll need a few easily accessible ingredients like Hilsa fish pieces, mustard seeds, green chilis, and an assortment of spices.

Follow my steps to make this dish at home.

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal

Key Takeaways:

  • Bengali Essence: Ilish Macher Tel Jhal captures traditional Bengal flavors with Hilsa fish, spices, and a distinct aroma.
  • Simple Ingredients: Hilsa fish, mustard seeds, green chilis, and spices create this flavorful dish easily at home.
  • Step-by-Step Cooking: Follow clear steps for marinating, making paste and spices, frying gently, preparing gravy, and simmering fish.
  • Expert Tips: Focus on fresh fish, spice adjustments, smooth mustard paste, gentle frying, tempering spices, salt-water balance, simmering, and resting the dish.
  • Serving and Taste: Best served with rice, this dish embodies Hilsa’s unique flavor, a blend of spices, creamy mustard, balanced heat, and harmonious taste.

The Ingredients:

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Ingredients

  • Ilish or Hilsa fish: 4 pieces (cut & cleaned)
  • Black mustard seeds: 1 ½ tbsp
  • Yellow mustard seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Green chilis: 4 pieces (for the paste)
  • Green chili: 5 pieces (slitted, for the gravy)
  • Turmeric powder: 1 ½ tbsp
  • Coriander powder: ½ tbsp
  • Cumin powder: ½ tbsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 1 tbsp
  • Mustard oil: 3 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

How to Cook Ilish Macher Tel Jhal (Step by Step with Images)?

1. Take 4 pieces of hilsa fish. Marinate the fish with less than ½ tbsp of turmeric powder and less than ½ tbsp of salt. Smear the fish nicely and set it aside for 10 mins.

Marinating Hilsa fish

Prepare Mustard Paste:

2. Create a paste using 1 ½ tbsp of black mustard seeds, 1 tbsp of yellow mustard seeds, 4 green chilis, and less than ½ tbsp of salt. Grind it using a grinding stone, then strain the paste with a strainer.

Preparing Mustard Paste

Prepare Spice Mixture:

3. In a bowl, combine 1 tbsp of turmeric, ½ tbsp of coriander powder, ½ tbsp of cumin powder, and 1 tbsp of Kashmiri red chili powder. Add a little bit of water to prepare a mixture.

Preparing Spice Mixture

Start the Cooking Process:

4. Take a wok and add 2 tbsp of mustard oil. Then, add the fishes and lightly fry them. After frying one side, flip them over and fry the other side. Avoid frying the hilsa fish too hard. Once fried, remove them from the oil.

(Expert tip: Be very careful when adding the fish into the oil.)

Frying Hilsa fish

Prepare the Gravy:

5. Now, add the previously prepared spice mixture to the remaining oil. Stir it nicely until the raw smell of the turmeric powder dissipates. After stirring, add the mustard paste to it and stir for 2 mins.

Preparing ilish macher tel jhal gravy

6. Add less than ½ tbsp of salt. When the stirring is done, it will release oil. Add 1 cup of water and 5 slitted green chilis into the gravy. Cover it and let it simmer.

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(Expert tip: Add salt according to your taste and adjust the water for your preferred gravy consistency.)

Adding salt, water, green chilis and stirring

Cook the Fish:

7. When the gravy is simmering, add the lightly fried fishes. Cover it for 5 mins and let it cook. Turn off the gas when it’s done.

Adding the lightly fried fishes and covering

8. Drizzle 1 tbsp of mustard oil to enhance the taste, cover, and let it rest.

Drizzling mustard oil and covering with lid

9. Ilish Macher Tel Jhal is ready and transfer it to a bowl.

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal is ready

Pro Tips for Making Ilish Macher Tel Jhal

Freshness Matters: Opt for fresh Hilsa fish to elevate the dish’s flavor. It’s the star ingredient, so freshness is key to achieving the best taste.

Balancing Spice Levels: Adjust the spice levels to your preference. If you prefer a spicier kick, increase the amount of Kashmiri red chili powder or green chilis. For a milder taste, reduce the spice quantities accordingly.

Mustard Paste Consistency: Strain the mustard paste well to achieve a smooth consistency. This ensures a uniform flavor throughout the dish.

Careful Frying: Be gentle when frying the fish to maintain its tenderness. Avoid overcooking or frying too hard, as it might toughen the fish.

Tempering the Gravy: Take your time while tempering the spice mixture in oil. Allow the spices to release their aroma by stirring until the raw smell of turmeric fades away.

Balancing Salt and Water: Add salt gradually and adjust according to taste. Additionally, control the amount of water added for the gravy to achieve your desired consistency.

Simmering the Fish: Once added to the gravy, let the fish simmer gently. Covering it helps to infuse the flavors thoroughly while keeping the fish tender.

Resting Period: Allowing the dish to rest after cooking allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a more flavorful and cohesive dish.

What to Serve with Ilish Macher Tel Jhal?

Serving Ilish Macher Tel Jhal with steamed rice

Steamed Rice: The classic and most popular choice to accompany Ilish Macher Tel Jhal. The fragrant, fluffy rice complements the rich flavors of the dish, allowing you to savor every bite.

Plain Basmati Rice: Its delicate aroma and long grains make it an excellent partner for the flavorful Hilsa fish curry. The simplicity of plain basmati rice lets the main dish shine.

How Does Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Taste?

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Featured Image

Hilsa Fish Flavor: The dish embodies the unique flavor of Hilsa fish, known for its distinctive taste and aroma. It contributes a rich, slightly sweet flavor that distinguishes it from other types of fish.

Blend of Vibrant Spices: The dish boasts a rich blend of spices including mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and Kashmiri red chili powder. Each spice contributes to the overall taste profile, offering layers of warmth and depth.

Mustard Paste Creaminess: The mustard paste creates a creamy and pungent base that complements the fish, enhancing its natural flavors while adding a tangy kick to the dish.

Balanced Spice Levels: The dish achieves a balance between spiciness, warmth, and tanginess. The spices are carefully balanced to offer a flavorful yet not overpowering taste.

Harmonious Flavors: When combined, the spices, mustard paste, and Hilsa fish create a harmonious fusion of flavors. The turmeric brings warmth, the Kashmiri red chili powder adds a subtle heat, and the mustard seeds infuse their unique pungency.

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Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Alternatives

Doi Ilish (Hilsa in Yogurt Curry): This is another popular Bengali preparation where Hilsa fish is cooked in a flavorful yogurt-based curry with spices like turmeric, cumin, ginger, and a touch of sweetness from sugar or jaggery.

Shorshe Ilish (Hilsa in Mustard Gravy): A dish similar to Ilish Macher Tel Jhal but with a stronger mustard flavor. Hilsa fish is cooked in a gravy made primarily with ground mustard seeds, green chilis, and a blend of spices for a pungent and aromatic taste.

Ilish Bhapa (Steamed Hilsa): In this dish, Hilsa fish is marinated in mustard paste, coconut, green chilis, and spices, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection, creating a unique and delicate flavor.

Ilish Paturi (Hilsa in Banana Leaf): Hilsa fish marinated with mustard paste, green chilis, coconut, and spices, then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked. The banana leaf imparts a distinct aroma to the dish.

Ilish Pulao (Hilsa Pulao): This is a different way to enjoy Hilsa where the fish is cooked along with aromatic rice, flavored with spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, creating a complete meal in itself.

Ilish Machher Jhol (Hilsa Fish Curry): A lighter version of Hilsa curry where the fish is cooked in a light gravy made with tomatoes, onions, ginger, turmeric, and green chilis, offering a simpler yet delicious taste.

Recipe Card

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal Featured Image

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal

By Mita Mondal
Ilish Macher Tel Jhal is a traditional Bengali dish renowned for its preparation of Hilsa fish in a richly spiced gravy, primarily flavored with mustard seeds, green chilis, and an array of aromatic spices.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marination 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 306 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 pieces Hilsa fish (cut & cleaned)
  • tbsp Black mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp Yellow mustard seed
  • 4 pieces Green chili (for the paste)
  • 5 pieces Green chili (slitted, for the gravy)
  • tbsp Turmeric powder
  • ½ tbsp Coriander powder
  • ½ tbsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 3 tbsp Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Marinate the Fish:
    Take 4 pieces of hilsa fish and marinate them with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Smear the spices on the fish and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Make Mustard Paste:
    Use 1 ½ tbsp of black mustard seeds, 1 tbsp of yellow mustard seeds, 4 green chilis, and a pinch of salt. Grind them to a paste using a grinder or mortar and pestle. Strain the paste with a strainer.
  • Prepare Spice Mix:
    Mix 1 tbsp of turmeric, ½ tbsp each of coriander and cumin powder, and 1 tbsp of Kashmiri red chili powder in a bowl. Add a little water to create a smooth mixture.
  • Start Cooking:
    Heat 2 tbsp of mustard oil in a wok. Lightly fry the fish on both sides until golden. Carefully remove the fish from the oil.
  • Make the Gravy:
    In the same wok, add the prepared spice mix to the remaining oil. Stir well until the raw smell of turmeric fades.
    Add the mustard paste and stir for 2 minutes.Add a pinch of salt, then pour in 1 cup of water and 5 slitted green chilis. Cover and let it simmer.
  • Cook the Fish in Gravy:
    Once the gravy simmers, gently add the fried fish. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Rest and Serve:
    Drizzle 1 tbsp of mustard oil, cover the dish, and let it rest for a while. Your delicious Ilish Macher Tel Jhal is ready to be served! Enjoy your meal!

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Notes

Freshness of Hilsa Fish: Always opt for fresh Hilsa fish for the best taste. Freshness greatly influences the flavor and quality of the dish.
Adjusting Spice Levels: Customize the spice levels according to your preference. Increase Kashmiri red chili powder or green chilis for a spicier kick. Conversely, reduce the spices for a milder taste.
Straining Mustard Paste: Ensure the mustard paste is strained well for a smooth consistency. This guarantees an even distribution of flavors throughout the dish.
Gentle Frying Technique: Carefully fry the fish to retain its tenderness. Avoid overcooking or frying too vigorously, as it can toughen the fish.
Tempering the Gravy: Take time to temper the spice mixture in oil. Allowing the spices to release their aromas enhances the overall flavor of the dish.
Balancing Salt and Water: Add salt gradually and adjust it according to your taste. Control the water added to the gravy for achieving the desired consistency.
Simmering the Fish: Once the fish is added to the gravy, let it simmer gently. Covering the dish helps the flavors infuse properly while keeping the fish tender.
Resting Period: Allowing the prepared dish to rest after cooking helps in melding the flavors, resulting in a more flavorful and cohesive dish when served.
These notes or tips can enhance the cooking experience and ensure a delicious outcome when preparing Ilish Macher Tel Jhal.

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Ilish Macher Tel Jhal
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
306
Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
23
g
35
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
12
g
Cholesterol
 
60
mg
20
%
Sodium
 
1006
mg
44
%
Potassium
 
505
mg
14
%
Carbohydrates
 
5
g
2
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
20
g
40
%
Vitamin A
 
698
IU
14
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
99
mg
10
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal is one of the best delicacies among Bengali fish dishes.

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The aroma of hilsa makes it extremely popular.

The gravy, prepared with mustard sauce and flavored with green chilis, adds to its delectable appeal.

You can enjoy this dish with steamed rice for an unforgettable aromatic and delicious hilsa recipe during your lunch or dinner.

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