|Sudipa n me at the Gariahat fish market|
Sudipa Mukhopadhyay is a wonderful lady, who cooks the most amazing Bengali food and hosts the longest running cookery show in Bengal Rannaghar. She shared the most interesting Ilish recipes and stories this January on my visit to Kolkata. Her husband is a Bangal and they are a lovely couple except when it comes to the conversation on which ilish is better, the Ganga Ilish from West Bengal or the Padma Ilish imported from Bangladesh. This conversation lights up the dining table instantly like a haybarn on fire, and that fire is the spice to her marriage, she jokes. But there’s no difference of opinion over the fact that Hilsa is the Queen of Bengal and it rules both sides of the Padma. The fact that no fish can rival its exquisite flavour and tenderness, not even the giant prawn with its succulence and flavoursome coral-filled head.
All good stories have a message right? Even love stories. This story has a heartfelt message too. It’s painful to see the Ganga Ilish become a rare commodity due to river pollution and overfishing. The Padma Ilish is the only variety available in fish markets and the Ganga Ilish are only becoming rarer and smaller and skinnier because of the not so great water of today’s Ganges. If you are a fish lover, try out this recipe, fall in love with the ilish and then do drop a line to the Ganga pollution control unit giving them another reason to
keep up the good work.
l 1 inch Ilish Darne (locally known as the ring cut): 2 no.s
l Poppy seed paste with green chilly: ¼ cup
l Kasundi mustard: ¼ cup
l Mustard oil: 1 tbsp
l Curd: ½ cup
l Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
l Salt and lemon juice to taste
l Banana leaf to wrap
Marinate the fish with turmeric and salt, leave aside for five minutes. Mix all the other ingredients and apply on fish. Wrap in banana leaf and steam, serve hot