Doi Ilish – Hilsa cooked in Curd

Ilish machh or Hilsa has such a great flavour that whatever way you prepare it, it tastes great. I have got this Doi Ilish recipe from one of my friend and tried it on Bijoya Dashami. Now some Gyan…It is a traditional custom in Bengal to have ‘Jorha Ilish’ ( pair of Hilsa) on Bijoya Dashami. After that, Hilsa should not be eaten till ‘Saraswati Puja’ which is usually around end of January or February. The scientific reason for this custom is, during this period little Hilsa fishes swam back from river to the sea and then again come back during next monsoon to lay eggs. This custom is almost forgotten nowadays, as a result, the world renowned ‘Padma r ilish’ is on the verge of extinction. These days, you will get Hilsa in the market all throughout the year and most of them are weighing less than 500 gms. I personally believe that it is a crime to have such a small Hilsa and try to avoid Hilsa till ‘Saraswati Puja’.
Let’s come back to the recipe now, it is not very common to use onion in Hilsa preparation in West Bengal. While trying it out following my friend’s recipe, I myself was not very sure how it will taste, but it comes out really well.


  • Ilish – 6 pieces
  • Curd or Yogurt – 5 tbsp.
  • Onion – 1, small, chopped very fine
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp.
  • Kashmiri Mirch Powder – 2 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Green Chillies – 4
  • Bayleaf – 1
  • Kalojeere, kalonji seeds – 1 tsp
  • Salt, Turmeric
  • Mustard Oil

Rub salt and turmeric powder to the ilish pieces and keep aside. whisk the curd very well, add 1 tsp of flour (moida) whisk well and then add ¾ cup water and whisk again… strain the yoghurt mix in a tea strainer and reserve.
Heat oil in a pan. Put the fish pieces and keep for few seconds and then just turn once and again keep for few seconds and then remove ( you may skip this if the ilish used is fresh and not from the freezer ).

Heat the same oil again. Put the bay leaves and kalo jeerey. When the smell of phoron comes put the onion (finely chopped) and stir. Add 75 % of the ginger paste and stir in. Add the turmeric and Kashmiri mirch powder and continue stirring.

Place the fish pieces into the fried masala and lower the heat. Turn the fish pieces so that the fishes get coated with masalas well.

Remove from the stove and add the yoghurt . Mix well.Take the pan back to the stove and increase the heat. You may need to add some more water at this stage.

Add salt and sugar.Add the remaining ginger paste and the slit green chilies. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Keep covered for 10 more minutes. Serve with plain rice.