Bhapa Ilish (Steamed Hilsa)

Duration: 30 mins

Serves: 5-6

Ask me or any of my fish-loving Bengali friends and we will tell you “East or West, Ilish is the best”. For all Bengalis, the word ‘Hilsa’ or ‘Ilish’ is a love affair that they cannot deny. There are sentimental poems and nostalgic songs dedicated to this quintessential Bengali fish.

The king of fish, as is often referred to by locals, demands to be treated with respect and to be indulged with fervour. Whether it is a celebration or just a lazy rainy afternoon, the signature dish of ‘Bhapa Ilish’ (Steamed Hilsa) is a must.


  • 5-6 Hilsa steaks
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 2-3 tsp mustard oil
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • Salt – to taste


  • Wash and clean the Hilsa fish steaks.
  • Marinate the steaks with turmeric and salt. Set aside.
  • Make a paste of mustard and yoghurt and coat the fish steaks with it.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, place the marinated steaks in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with mustard oil and some slit green chillies on top.
  • Microwave on medium heat for 15 mins or so.
  • Serve hot with rice and taste heaven!