Hilsa and mustard go hand in hand, especially when it comes to Bengali Cuisine. While the most famous of all is Steamed Hilsa in Mustard Sauce Gravy or simply Bhapa Illish as we Bengalis call it, this recipe is also equally famous and brings out a whole new flavor and taste. For those who like and enjoy the pungency of Mustard, this dish is a treat. So go ahead and enjoy this super easy and super yummy Bengal Special Illish Macher Jhal!
4-5 pieces of Hilsa, washed and cleaned
1 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds, soaked for 1/2 hour
1 small tomato, chopped (optional; I like a bit of tang in my mustard gravy)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds or kalaunji
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
2-3 green chillies
1 +1 tbsp mustard oil
Make a paste with the soaked and drained mustard seeds, green chillies, and the tomato. If adding tomato, no need to add extra water. Keep aside.
Marinade the fish pieces with little salt and turmeric and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
Now heat oil in a pan and fry the fish until slightly golden. Remove from pan and keep it in the dish you are going to serve. The fish will be releasing some of its juices and so this is important for a tastier gravy.
In the same oil, add the kalaunji and add the mustard paste. With a dash of water, rinse the grinder and add it to the pan. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, sugar, and salt (be careful as you have already added salt to the fish). Stir and let it come to a boil. Add the fish pieces and cover and cook on a low flame until the fish is cooked. Do not overcook else the mustard will turn bitter. Remove from heat, add another tbsp of oil on top (optional) and serve hot with steamed rice.