Delicious ILISH BHAPA- Hilsa Fish Steamed in Mustard Sauce

Quick Recipe


Ilishbhaape, also known as ShorsheIlishbhapa meaning steamed mustard Hilsa, is a Bengali recipe of Hilsa fish steamed in potent mustard, yogurt, and coconut paste. Even though it looks very lustrous, it is a fairly easy recipe to make, requiring few ingredients, no special technique, and very little time. Hilsa is rich in omega 3 fatty acid which is a great source of decreasing cholesterol level and can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Meanwhile monsoon is arriving and it is especially convenient for entertaining guests. You can keep everything ready in a tight tiffin box, and just as the guests are sitting down for the first course of meal, you can put the container to steam. It will be ready by the time the guests are finishing their first course. You can then bring this to the table and open the lid to uncover the beautiful steaming Hilsa while your guests are excited and enlivened.

ilish bhapa

YIELDS – 4 servings

COOKING TIME – 40 minutes


  • 250 g (or 4 pcs) Ilishmachh (Hilsa fish, 3-cm-thick slices)
  • 40 g Mustard seeds (yellow mixed + brown, soaked for 2 hours)
  • 8 pcs Green chillies
  • 40 g Coconut (peeled and chopped)
  • 25 g Yoghurt (beaten)
  • 22 g Salt
  • ¼ tsp Sugar
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 20 g Mustard oil


  1. Soak mustard seeds in water for 2 hours.
  2. Clean the Ilishmachh and cut it in 3-cm thick slices. Ilishbhaape is best made with thick pieces of fish. Fish without roe (eggs) is fattier and, therefore, ideal for this recipe. If your fish has eggs, take out the egg sack, as they may not cook fully when steamed. You can add them to your fry or curry.
  3. Drain the mustard seeds of the water they’ve been soaking in and add them to a grinder jar. Add four green chillies, roughly chopped, along with the salt and 100g water. Mustard grinding with green chilliesensures that it doesn’t turn bitter.
  4. Grind these to a fine paste. Take your time with this process. Scrape down all the sides of the jar and grind as it takes to form the smoothest possible paste. The finer the grind, the better the flavours.
  5. Now, add the peeled and shredded coconut to the grinder jar. Grind once again until the coconut has broken down totally.
  6. Transfer this paste to a steel tiffin box. Add beaten yoghurt, sugar, turmeric, and mustard oil. Mix until the oil is fully incorporated.
  7. Now add the fish, one piece at a time, and coat it with the spices. Use your hands to make sure the fish, including its cavities, is well coated.
  8. Slit few more green chillies and place them on the Ilish pieces.
  9. Fasten the lid of your tiffin box (you could also seal the top with aluminium foil) and set the fish aside to marinate for fifteen minutes.
  10. Place a stand at the bottom and heat up your pan. Pour hot water, until it doesn’t reach up to more than half the height of your tiffin box, or there’s a danger of water seeping in. Once the water has starts to a boil, place the tiffin on the stand. Cover the pan and steam on medium heat for fifteen minutes.

Remove from the pan and allow it to rest for another five minutes before serving hot with steamed rice.


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