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Ilish Bhapa

BengaliFoodie's picture
Ilish Bhapa or Steamed Hilsa is a traditional dish of Bengal. Hilsa is a favorite fish for almost every Bengali person. This specialty cuisine is prepared with mustard paste. The hot and spicy taste of this dish completely depends on the type of mustard you are using.
  Hilsa pieces 6 , cut in steak size
  Turmeric powder 1⁄2 Teaspoon
  Salt To Taste
  Lime juice 1 Tablespoon
  Green chilli 2 , slit lengthwise
  Mustard oil 3 Tablespoon
For mustard paste
  Mustard seeds 1 1⁄2 Tablespoon, soaked
  Green chilli 2
  Salt 1 Pinch

1) Soak the mustard seeds in 2 tablespoons water for at least an hour.
2) In your blender, add the soaked mustard, a pinch of salt, and 1-2 green chilies.
3) Add 2-3 tablespoon water and process to a smooth paste.
4) Clean and wash the fish steaks. Lightly pat dry with paper towel to soak extra water.

5) Use a container with airtight lid, to place the Ilish steaks.
6) Add the mustard paste, turmeric powder, lime juice, and salt to the fish.
7) Pour in most of the mustard oil and thoroughly coat all the fish steaks with the spices.
8) Place the green chilies on top and spread with remaining mustard oil before closing the lid tightly.
9) In a large pan, bring 1 cup of water to boil over high heat.
10) Carefully place the airtight container in the boiling water and cover the large pan with a lid.
11) Reduce heat to medium to simmer the water.
12) Cook the fish for another 15-20 minutes in simmering water.

13) Serve the Ilish Bhapa piping hot, over the steamed rice.

Recipe Summary

Difficulty Level: 
Main Dish
Preparation Time: 
10 Minutes
Cook Time: 
20 Minutes
Ready In: 
30 Minutes
Ilish Bhapa is a common preparation served in any festive event – be it religious or social. You should take special care to prepare the mustard paste. In my home, the mustard seeds are kept soaking in water for at least an hour, before preparing the paste. You can use blender to grind the mustard by adding little bit of water. However, the best flavor comes from the paste, which is made using the grinding stone – a traditional Bengali grinding appliance. Remember to add a pinch of salt while blending the mustard seeds to a paste.

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Average: 4.6 (3 votes)

Nutrition Rank

Nutrition Facts

Serving size

Calories 428 Calories from Fat 300

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 34 g51.7%

Saturated Fat 6.1 g30.5%

Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 112.5 mg37.5%

Sodium 238.6 mg9.9%

Total Carbohydrates 4 g1.2%

Dietary Fiber 1.1 g4.5%

Sugars 1 g

Protein 27 g54.1%

Vitamin A 5.8% Vitamin C 42.8%

Calcium 10.3% Iron 13.3%

*Based on a 2000 Calorie diet


Meaty's picture
No bengali meal is complete without this exotic it
Rashmi.vilas's picture
Wow this mustard flavoured steamed fish is delicious !!
Anonymous's picture
Wow.. this is my favorite...too good with a plate of warm rice!!
Anonymous's picture
Ilish Bhapa is a must try dish. A treat for seafood lovers.
sumer's picture
i love fish........wud certainly try this mustard flavored one
Anonymous's picture
I just do not let other fish taint my cooking utensils when I can get the choicest Hilsa. Ilish bhapa is a must-have every monsoon for me
oatmeal's picture
A rich dish ideal for the celebrations.....
colorfulcandies's picture
not a fan of ilish bhapa, though an interesting article.
Lokkhi's picture mouth is already watering at the very seductive sight of it! So lucky to be a Bengali!
delicious.bites's picture
Yummy...I will have this as a treat from my Bengali friends.
Gourmet.lover's picture
All food lovers...try this out! This is an exotic curry and I truly can't get over it.
shivastuti koul's picture
Mesmerising flavors of Bengal!!!
Anonymous's picture
This looks so delicious ! Since the taste depends upon the mustard being used, could you please let me know the type of mustard that best goes with this?
Anonymous's picture
i love fish...especially steamed
Anonymous's picture
I don't like Hilsa .....but the recipe sounds great ........will try it out with some other fish....
chefpreetz's picture
very healthy..i must say
Anonymous's picture
I love this dish and every time I go for a Bengali meal this is the first dish that I order...I think I should try making it at home :-)
bonappetit's picture
truly a taste of bengal...mustard adds on to the authenticity!
foodietweetie's picture
I love fish and this bengali preparation is quite fascinating :)
Anonymous's picture
A classic Bengali dish!
Anonymous's picture
I have been in love with Ilish for over a decade! This fish is amazing, no matter what you do to it. The bones get a little too much to handle at times, but the taste makes up for it :)
chockyfoodie's picture
A Bengali meal is incomplete without Hilsa.
Anonymous's picture
One cannot think of a Bengali meal without this savory dish.
Ilish Bhapa Recipe