A toned down bhaapa ilish (steamed hilsa) recipe


This is the link to an earlier post on a more fully loaded bhaapa ilish that I had shared

Last time when I went Gurgaon on work, I stayed with my brother and sister in law after my work got over for a micro-vacation.

My sister in law’s dad is a legendary cook and she is quite the chip of the old block when it comes to cooking as we have discovered with time. She made an amazing looking bhaapa ilish (steamed hilsa) towards the end of my last trip. I had to skip the dish unfortunately that time as the Delhi heat and some unrestrained eating had got to me and towards the end of the trip I was on a diet of ice cream as ordered by my doctor in Mumbai.

The vision of that delectable ilish however stayed with me well after I returned to Mumbai.

Recently I got some hilsa from the Poonam’s at the Khar Station fish market and thought I will make it the way my sis in law did. I asked her for the recipe and this is her mail in response:

‘-Marinate Illish pieces with mustard oil and slit green chillies for 10 mins. Make sure each piece of Illish is smeared with oil

-Use 2 Tbspn of mustard oil in the container where you want to cook and steam the Illish, and mix 1 small spoon of chilli powder, 1 small spoon of jeera powder and 1 small spoon of turmeric powder...equal quantities and make a paste. if it gets too thick use a little bit of water. To this add salt to taste and then coat the Iliish pieces with this paste and put all the slit green chillies n the top of the fish.

(You can make more of this paste if this much is not enough to cover all pieces of Illish, make sure the Illish pieces are coated with this paste, rub the pieces lightly while coating the fish so that the masala gets in.)

-Then when this setup is done..Top the fish pieces with another tspn of oil, and drop the oil all over ..

-Close the lid of the container

-Steam it for 5 mins of high flame and then 10 -15 mins on low flame.

-you might want to open the box midway and turn over the pieces if the pieces are very thick and fat.

NOTE: This recipe needs a little more oil than your healthy recipes but it tastes yummmm!’

I slightly modified the recipe as I am still off chillies but the dish that I made using her recipe as a base turned out really good.

This is my, chilli-free, modified recipe for bhaapa ilish.



4 pieces of ilish/ hilsa (I used peti or belly pieces to avoid the bones), 2 table spoons of mustard oil, 1/2 a teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin (jeera) and crushed (I used Cookme) mustard powder & salt


1. Marinate the Hilsa pieces in 1 tablespoon of mustard oil

2. Mix the turmeric, cumin, mustard & salt into 1 tablespoon of mustard oil in a stainless steel container

3. Put the pieces of fish into the container and turn them around so that the spice and oil mix coats the fish

4. Shut the container and put it on a boiling container of water on a high flame for about 8-10 min and on simmer on 4,5 minutes more

5. Carefully take out the container from the water and open the lid



Your bhaapa ilish is ready. have it with plain steamed rice. You can pump up the mustard levels and add chillies if you don’t have a reflux problem. Though let me assure that even the recipe above is pretty full flavoured and quite intense and yet delectable and pretty easy to make too. The fish had steamed quite evenly right up to the plump roe.

Thanks for the recipe and inspiration Soyel



Here’s the link to a recent post that I did on breakfasts in Bandra on LiveinStyle.com


Pinku said…

that looks so tempting...and the best part is how easy it is...

Kalyan Karmakar said…
true priyanka, so easy to make and great you were able to comment :)