Sorshe Ilish Recipe | Mustard Hilsa

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Sorshe Ilish, also known as mustard Hilsa, is a traditional Bengali dish that combines two iconic ingredients: hilsa fish and mustard.

It is a popular delicacy in the region of West Bengal, Bangladesh, and other parts of Eastern India.

The Hilsa fish, also known as Ilish, is a highly prized and sought-after fish known for its distinct flavor and delicate texture.

To prepare Sorshe Ilish, the fish is marinated with turmeric, and salt, and sometimes with mustard paste and other spices. Check out the full recipe below.

Sorshe Ilish

Key Takeaways:

  • Sorshe Ilish is a traditional Bengali dish combining Hilsa fish and mustard, popular in West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Eastern India.
  • Hilsa fish, also known as Ilish, is highly prized for its distinct flavor and delicate texture, earning it the title of “King of Fish” in Bengali cuisine.
  • Sorshe Ilish is prepared by marinating the fish with turmeric, salt, and sometimes mustard paste, before gently steaming it in a mustard-based gravy.
  • The mustard paste adds a rich and zesty flavor to the dish, complementing the natural taste of the Hilsa fish. It is typically served with steamed rice to balance the flavors.
  • Alternatives to Sorshe Ilish include using other fish like Rohu or Pomfret for a Mustard Fish Curry.

The Ingredients:

Sorshe Ilish Ingredients

  • Hilsa Fish: 5 Pieces (cut and cleaned)
  • Black Mustard Paste: 3 big tbl spoons (paste made with a pinch of salt and three green chilies to avoid bitterness and strained)
  • Turmeric Powder: ½ tbl spoon
  • Kashmiri Red Chilies: ½ tbl spoon
  • Black Cumin Seeds: ½ tbl spoon
  • Green Chilies: 7
  • Mustard Oil – 3 tbl spoons
  • Salt to Taste

How to Cook Sorshe Ilish (Step by Step Images)?

1. Marinate the Hilsa fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Leave them for 10 minutes.

Marinating the Hilsa fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder

2. Put a cooking pan on the gas stove and turn it on.

Placing a cooking pan on the gas stove

3. Pour mustard oil into the pan.

Pouring mustard oil into the pan

4. When the oil is hot, add black cumin seeds.

Adding two green chilies and stirring

5. Stir a little and add two green chilies.

Adding two green chilies and stirring

6. The ingredients will start fluttering. Reduce the flame.

Reducing the flame

7. Add ½ tbl spoon each of turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder.

Adding turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder

8. Add a little amount of water.

Adding a little amount of water

9. Sauté on a low flame.

Sautéing on a low flame

10. After a little while, add mustard paste to the oil. Don’t stir too much as the gravy will turn bitter.

Adding mustard paste

11. After 5 minutes, pour 1 cup of water into the pan.

Pouring 1 cup of water into the pan

12. After a while, add some salt and the green chilies.

Adding some salt and rest green chilies

13. Once the curry comes to a boil, add the Hilsa fish pieces one by one.

Adding the Hilsa fish pieces one by one

14. Put a lid on the pan and leave it to cook for 10 minutes.

Putting a lid on the pan

15. Remove the lid and turn the fish pieces upside down.

Turning the fish pieces upside down

16. Put the lid on and leave it for 5 minutes.

Putting the lid on

17. After the fishes are well cooked, reduce the flame further and add 1 tbl spoon of mustard oil. The mustard oil added at the last moment gives the dish a strong and distinct aroma.

Adding mustard oil on fish mustard for flavor

18. Turn off the gas stove. Put the lid once again and leave it for 5 minutes so that the strong flavour of mustard oil does not escape the pan.

Putting the lid back once again

19. Transfer Sorshe Ilish to a bowl and is ready to serve.

Mustard Hilsa is ready to serve

Pro Tips for Cooking Sorshe Ilish

Here are some pro tips to enhance your cooking experience and ensure a delicious Sorshe Ilish:

Choosing Fresh Hilsa Fish: Look for fresh and high-quality Hilsa fish. The fish should have clear eyes, shiny scales, and a fresh, oceanic smell. If possible, buy the fish from a reputable fishmonger or seafood market to ensure its freshness.

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Marination (OPTIONAL): Marinating the fish  infuse it with the flavors of mustard and other spices. Prepare a smooth paste using mustard seeds, turmeric, salt, green chilies, garlic, and a little oil or water. Coat the fish thoroughly with the marinade, ensuring it reaches all the crevices and cuts. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the fish.

Use Mustard Paste: Prepare a fresh mustard paste using black or yellow mustard seeds. Soak the mustard seeds in water for about 30 minutes, then grind them with a little water to make a smooth paste. The freshly made paste adds a vibrant flavor to the dish. However, if you’re short on time, you can also use store-bought mustard paste or mustard powder mixed with water.

Cooking Techniques: Sorshe Ilish can be cooked in different ways. You can choose to fry, steam, or even bake the fish. Frying the fish gives it a crispy texture, while steaming retains its delicate flavors and textures. Baking is a healthier alternative and allows the fish to cook gently in the mustard sauce.

Balancing Mustard Flavors: Mustard can be overpowering if not balanced properly. Adjust the quantity of mustard paste or sauce according to your taste preference. If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of mustard or blend it with yogurt or coconut milk to tone down the pungency.

Temper the Mustard Sauce: To enhance the flavors, temper the mustard sauce before adding the marinated fish. Heat a little oil in a pan, add black cumin seeds and green chilies and any other preferred spices before adding the mustard paste. This tempering process adds depth and complexity to the mustard sauce.

Garnish and Serving: Finish the dish with a touch of freshness by garnishing it with chopped coriander leaves or fresh cilantro. The combination of tender fish, creamy mustard sauce, and fragrant rice creates a perfect harmony of flavors.

These tips are meant to enhance your skills and help you create a delicious Sorshe Ilish. Feel free to experiment, adjust the ingredients to your liking, and enjoy the process of preparing this iconic Bengali delicacy!

What to Serve with Sorshe Ilish?

Sorshe Ilish is traditionally served with steamed rice, which helps balance the flavors and absorbs the delicious mustard sauce.

The combination of tender fish and creamy mustard pairs exceptionally well with the simplicity of steamed rice.

How Does Sorshe Ilish Taste?

Hilsa Mustard Taste

Sorshe Ilish has a distinct and flavorful taste that combines the natural flavors of Hilsa fish with the pungency of mustard. Here’s a description of the taste profile:

Hilsa Fish: Hilsa fish is known for its delicate and tender flesh. It has a mild, slightly sweet, and buttery taste. The fish has a rich, oily texture that melts in your mouth. The flavor is often described as rich, succulent, and with a subtle hint of the sea.

Mustard: Mustard is known for its pungent, tangy, and slightly spicy taste. The mustard seeds or mustard paste used in Sorshe Ilish bring a unique sharpness and depth to the dish. The mustard flavor can vary in intensity depending on the amount used, but it adds a distinct zing that complements the fish.

Spices and Aromatics: Along with mustard, other spices and aromatics such as turmeric, green chilies, and garlic are often added to the marinade and sauce. These ingredients contribute to the overall flavor profile by adding warmth, subtle heat, and aromatic notes.

Sorshe Ilish Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternatives to Sorshe Ilish, a popular Bengali dish made with Hilsa fish and mustard sauce, here are a few options:

Mustard Fish Curry: You can substitute Hilsa fish with other fish varieties like Rohu or Pomfret and prepare a mustard-based curry. Use ground mustard seeds, mustard oil, turmeric, and other spices to create a flavorful gravy.

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Mustard Chicken: If you prefer a non-seafood alternative, you can prepare a mustard-based chicken dish. Marinate chicken pieces with a mixture of mustard paste, yogurt, garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook it in a pan or oven until tender and flavorful.

Mustard Paneer (Cottage Cheese): For a vegetarian alternative, try making a mustard-based dish with paneer (cottage cheese). Make a paste using mustard seeds, green chilies, ginger, garlic, and other spices. Coat the paneer cubes with this paste and either grill or pan-fry them.

Mustard Tofu: Similar to the paneer option, you can substitute tofu for paneer and prepare a mustard tofu dish. Marinate tofu slices with mustard paste, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings. Sauté or bake the tofu until it’s cooked and nicely flavored.

These alternatives offer a similar tangy and spicy flavor profile associated with mustard-based dishes, although the taste and texture may differ slightly from the traditional Sorshe Ilish.

Feel free to experiment with different combinations of spices and ingredients to create your preferred version of the dish.

Recipe Card:

Sorshe Ilish

Sorshe Ilish (Mustard Hilsa)

By Mita Mondal
Sorshe Ilish, also known as Hilsa Mustard, is a traditional Bengali dish that combines two iconic ingredients: Hilsa fish (Ilish in Bengali) and mustard (Sorshe in Bengali).
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5
Calories 273 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams Hilsa Fish (cut into five pieces and cleaned)
  • 3 tablespoons Black Mustard Paste (paste made with a pinch of salt and three green chilies to avoid bitterness and strained)
  • ½ tablespoon Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chilies
  • ½ tablespoon Black Cumin Seeds
  • 7 pieces Green Chilies
  • 3 tablespoons Mustard Oil
  • Salt to Taste

Instructions
 

  • Begin by marinating the Hilsa fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Allow them to marinate for 10 minutes.
  • Place a cooking pan on the gas stove and heat it.
  • Add mustard oil to the pan and wait until it becomes hot.
  • Once the oil is hot, add black cumin seeds and give them a stir.
  • Add two green chilies to the pan and let the ingredients sizzle slightly. Reduce the flame to prevent burning.
  • Sprinkle half a tablespoon each of turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder into the pan.
  • Pour a small amount of water into the pan and sauté the mixture over low heat.
  • After a short while, add the mustard paste to the oil. Avoid excessive stirring to prevent the gravy from turning bitter.
  • After 5 minutes, add 1 cup of water to the pan.
  • Add some salt and green chilies to the mustard gravy.
  • Once the gravy comes to a boil, carefully add the Hilsa fish pieces one by one.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let the fish cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and gently turn the fish pieces upside down.
  • Cover the pan again and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Once the fish is well cooked, reduce the flame further and add 1 tablespoon of mustard oil. This final addition of mustard oil will infuse the dish with a strong and distinct aroma.
  • Turn off the gas stove and cover the pan again, allowing the flavors to meld for another 5 minutes, ensuring the strong flavor of the mustard oil is retained.
  • Transfer the Sorshe Ilish to a serving bowl and it is ready to be enjoyed.

Video

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Notes

Fresh Hilsa Fish: Use fresh and high-quality Hilsa fish for the best flavor and texture. Look for fish with clear eyes, shiny scales, and a fresh oceanic smell. Purchase it from a reputable fishmonger or seafood market, if possible.
Marination: Marinating the fish with salt and turmeric powder enhances its flavor. Allow the fish to marinate for at least 10 minutes to infuse it with the spices.
Mustard Paste: Prepare a fresh mustard paste using black or yellow mustard seeds. Soak the mustard seeds in water for about 30 minutes, then grind them with a little water to make a smooth paste. Freshly made mustard paste adds a vibrant flavor to the dish. If you're short on time, you can use store-bought mustard paste or mustard powder mixed with water.
Adjusting Spices: The quantity of turmeric and Kashmiri red chili powder can be adjusted according to your taste preference. Add more or less depending on how mild or spicy you prefer the dish to be.
Mustard Oil: Mustard oil is an essential component of Sorshe Ilish. It adds a distinct flavor and aroma to the dish. Use it both for cooking and as a finishing touch. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can use vegetable oil as a substitute, but the flavor will differ.
Steaming the Fish: To maintain the delicate texture of the Hilsa fish, it is traditionally steamed in the mustard gravy. Ensure that the fish is evenly cooked by following the recommended cooking times in the recipe.
Handling Mustard Paste: Be cautious when adding the mustard paste to the hot oil. Excessive stirring can make the gravy bitter. Gently incorporate the paste and avoid overmixing.
Balancing Flavors: Mustard can have a strong and pungent taste. Adjust the quantity of mustard paste or sauce according to your preference. If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of mustard or balance it with yogurt or coconut milk.
Garnish: For added freshness, garnish the Sorshe Ilish with chopped coriander leaves or fresh cilantro before serving. It adds a pop of color and a hint of freshness to the dish.
Serving: Sorshe Ilish is traditionally served with steamed rice, which complements the flavors of the mustard sauce. The combination of tender fish and creamy mustard sauce pairs exceptionally well with plain steamed rice.
Remember, these recipe notes are meant to guide you in preparing a delicious Sorshe Ilish dish.
Feel free to adjust the ingredients and techniques to suit your personal preferences and culinary style. Enjoy the process of cooking this iconic Bengali delicacy!

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Sorshe Ilish (Mustard Hilsa)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
273
Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
20
g
31
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
10
g
Cholesterol
 
60
mg
20
%
Sodium
 
808
mg
35
%
Potassium
 
420
mg
12
%
Carbohydrates
 
3
g
1
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
20
g
40
%
Vitamin A
 
340
IU
7
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
84
mg
8
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Sorshe Ilish is a popular Bengali dish made with Hilsa fish and a tangy mustard sauce. It is known for its unique and delicious flavor.

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While there are alternatives available using different proteins like chicken, paneer, or tofu, they may not completely replicate the taste and texture of the original dish.

However, these alternatives can still provide a similar tangy and spicy experience. Experimenting with different ingredients and spices can help you create a dish that suits your preferences.

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