Adhunik bhaapa ilish or 'modern microwaved steamed Hilsa' recipe

I met Scarlett after ages for lunch. That’s when Bunkin Banu called me for instructions on what to cook. She seems programmed to call me when I sit to eat.

Scarlett couldn’t stop giggling as I instructed  Banu to make baigan ka bharta, which we recently learnt she knows how to make, cabbage, daal and roti. Scarlett was surprised to find out that we eat simple vegetarian food too. Plus she said that she thought that I cooked every day. I tried to tell her that it wasn’t so. She refused to believe me. And guess what, I did end up ‘cooking’ today. If you can call pressing two switches that.

I had some time to kill this evening as I returned early from work. So I decided to make a microwave steamed Hilsa inspired by a post Pree wrote recently.  I wasn’t too sure of putting curd in the beginning. Pree explained that this would be ok. Apparently curd curdles if you add it mid way. You should add it in the beginning of cooking or at the end when the dish cools down. She was, as I knew she would be, right.
It hardly required any work and I managed to fit in a low intensity gym session in between the marinating and cooking. It was a no oil dish. Turned out to be a tad dry. A bit of oil drizzled in the beginning might have helped. Pree's recipe involved mustard oil Some more curd might have helped too.

So here’s the recipe for the adhunik bhaapa ilish or modern steamed hilsa.


  • Put a teaspoon of mustard seeds in a grinder and grind (Bengali tradition calls for more mustard but K can’t handle the pungency)
  •  Add 1.5 teaspoons of poppy/ posto/ khus khus seeds to this and grind
  •  Add 3 geen chillies, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric to this and grind
  • Add 4 tablespoons of curd to this and whip

  • Pour marinate over 4 pieces of Hilsa
  •  Marinate for at least an hour. I went and did a mild leg routine at the gym and returned in  1.5 hours
  • Put the dish into the micro and cover with a micro dish, cling film. This helps the fish retain the moisture. I didn’t. Which explains the dryness. Though, as K came and told me right now, the taste was very good
  • Switch on the micro for five minutes
  • Switch off the micro and take out the dish. Gently turn the fish. Add a bit more curd to blend in the masala in case it seems a bit dry
  • Put it in and switch on the micro for 3 more minutes. Total of 8 minutes
  • The dish is ready. Best had with steamed rice
I was a bit lazy today too and took the pictures with the Blackberry. The idea of taking out the camera and clicking would have against the grain of quick and easy cooking after all.


Pinku said…
the curd does seem an unusual addition to this very bangla dish.

wonder why Pree suggested it.

We do habitually make ilish and other fish paturi in the microwave oven - infact my mom used to use her round cake oven to make the same long before microwaves arrived on the scene.

am wondering how u managed the ilish with the bharta and cabbage though not to mention the roti.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Pinku, I have used doi in ilish earlier too. Doi posto ilish.

Cabbage was for lunch at work. So daal, bharta..then maachh
Scarlett said…
I was very amused to see you give directions to your maid on how to make baingan ka bharta, cabbage & how many rotis to make! LOL!

On another note, your posts make me almost want to start eating fish :) But I love how K and you have found a middle path with regards to the kind of food you like. I should imbibe that from you coz I'll be needing it in the future :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
well, 'middle ground' is a lot better than compromises Ash