The man has brought home some absolute gorgeous Hilsa, D rattles on the phone, animated and impatient, without even a pause for breath, you need to guide me now how to make Aunty’s Bhapa Ilish .
I am trimming the jasmine vine in the garden, a pair of garden shears in my right hand, holding a mischievous branch that has run astray in my left, the phone, passed to my by S, nestled precariously on my shoulder, supported by a magically slanted head.
It must be in the blog, I answer, absent-mindedly, struggling to snip the branch, (the shears need to retired, I make a mental note) conscious that the slightest movement of my tilted head shall result in a catastrophic end to my cherished phone.
Meanwhile I half-hear D contesting. I searched your blog but didn’t seem to find it.
Bhapa Ilish not in the blog, that cannot be true, comes the brisk rejoinder from me.
Have a look again dear.
And can I call you back in a while ?
A forgetful me doesn’t remember to call D back.
She calls back, just before noon. Almost apologetic.
I did check your blog, and rummaged through all your Ilish recipes. D affirms. But no luck finding the recipe of Bhapa Ilish. I do need the recipe please.
I am still cynical.
Let me check and call you right back.
I log into my blog.
And discover the unbelievable.
For all the recipes of Ilish that grace the blog, indeed conspicuous by her absence is the recipe of Bhapa Ilish.
D was indeed correct.
That’s blasphemy, S jokes when I relate the anecdote to him later in the day.
And I did make it a point to post the recipe within a week.
And here it is.
Bhapa Ilish . Gorgeous Ilish steaks. A slather of piquant mustard. A generous glug of mustard oil. A throw of wicked green chillies. All snugly packed in an old-school stainless steel tiffin-box and steamed to perfection.
(And that intoxicating aroma when you prise open the lid of the box. What a delight for the olfactory nerves !!)
This is food heaven !!!
And now for Maa’s tips – Add a tablespoon odd of onion paste and a teaspoon of garlic paste to the mustard.
I know, I know from that frown of yours laced with violent skepticism, (S’ reaction the first time had been far more stark), but do try it once and let me know if it works for you !!!
- 5 pieces Ilish or hilsa
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1.5 tbsp onion paste
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 7-8 green chillies
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 4-5 tbsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
- Soak the yellow and black mustard seeds in warm water, some 15 minutes or so. Drain from water, add a pinch of rice, 3-4 green chillies and the garlic cloves, blend to a smooth paste.
- Move the mustard paste to a tiffin box, add the onion paste, remaining green chillies, turmeric powder, salt and mustard oil, mix well.
- Gently place the fish in the tiffin box, coat well with the paste. Close the lid of the tiffin box. Steam for 12-15 minutes. Remove from flame, allow to to rest for 10 minutes or so.
- Carefully open the lid of the tiffin box, finish with a drizzle of some more mustard oil if you like the zing. Serve hot with rice.