Ilish Bhapa (Baked Hilsa)

Hilsa is undoubtedly one of the most-craved fishes on the diverse Bengali platter and in this regard the aebitrarily drawn international border between Bangladesh and West Bengal does not apply. Baked Hilsa, more commonly known by the Bengali term Ilish Bhapa, is arguably the tastiest Hilsa dishes. It, however, takes a relatively complicated process to prepare this. Today I’ll tell you guys how my mom does it.


1. Hilsa- 6 pieces

2. Coconut paste- 3 table spoons

3. Coconut milk- 1 small cup

4. Black Mustard Paste- 2 tea spoons

5. White Mustard Paste- 2 tea spoons

6. Poppy Seed Paste- 2 table spoons

7. Salt- according to taste

8. Sugar- half tea spoon

9. Green Chillies Paste- 2 tea spoons

10. Green Chillies- 4-5 pieces

11. Turmeric Powder- 1.5 tea spoons

12. Mustard Oil- 5 table spoons


Firstly, wash the fish properly. Then marinate it with salt and one tea spoon turmeric powder and leave it like that for about ten minutes. Now pour the poppy seed paste, the mustard pastes (both kinds), the coconut paste, the green chilli paste, half tea spoon turmeric powder, salt, half tea spoon sugar and two table spoons of mustard oil into a bowl and mix well. Now apply the mixture on the marinated Hilsa pieces and make sure that the pieces are properly coated by the mixture on all sides. Now take a large steel utensil (preferably a large tiffin carrier) and place the Hilsa pieces in the carrier side by side in a way that the pieces are not on top of each other. Add in the coconut milk. Turn the fish pieces in the utensil once the coconut milk is added so that all the parts of the fish pieces come into contact with the coconut milk. Then sprinkle 1 table spoon mustard oil over the fish pieces. Arrange the green chillies over the fishes and cover the utensil up. 

Baking the fish is a tricky process. Place the utensil in a large kadhai and pour water into the kadhai in such a way that the water does not get into the utensil holding the fish pieces and that the water’s height is not more than half the height of the utensil carrying the fish. This is done to make sure that the water does not get into the utensil carrying the fish when it is boiled. Now boil the water on sim flame. After five minutes, extract the carrier from the kadhai and turn the fish pieces over. Now place the kadhai on the oven again and boil on sim flame for another 3 minutes. 

And there you have it! The chilly, mustardy, mouth-watering baked Hilsa is ready to be served! 

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Arka Chakraborty

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I'm a History student! I like ruminating about the past, expressing my thoughts through the ink and, nowadays, through the virtual space. My blogs involve mostly history and literature with a view of making it exciting for the reader. Hope to see you at my blogs!