Every man, much to the wife’s consternation, stands tall on the claim that his mother cooks the most sublime one. Magic of her hand, he would say with an air of dismissal, whenever probed how she cooked it.
Every new bride is torn between impulses, do I cook my mother’s one, full of memories and warm with nostalgia or do I follow what mom-in-law insisted was the recipe generations in the household had relished on ?
Even the most docile of ancient grandmoms agree to violently disagree on the recipe to cook the perfect one. And if it does feature in a marriage lunch, do have the stomach to take in that criticism – the mustard did not quite pack a punch, did they really fry the fish, wasn’t it too runny….
You have guessed it right – this is doi ilish, another ageless Bengali favorite, where the Queen of fish takes yoghurt as a companion to raise their performance to yet another exalted level. And yes there’s just a touch of mustard, though the Queen insists firmly that this should in no way overpower the subtleties at play here.
Of course you have your own version of doi ilish and all the sweet memories, but if you do want a variation, try this one !!!
Doi Ilish (Hilsa in Yogurt)
- 4 pieces Ilish or hilsa
- 3/4 cup curd whipped
- 2 tsps mustard paste with green 1-2 green chilies
- 1 tsp nigella seeds or kalonji
- 1.5 tsps turmeric powder
- 2 tsps red chilli powder
- 3 - 4 green chillies slit
- 3.5 tbsps mustard oil
- salt to taste
- Marinate the fish with turmeric and salt.
- Heat oil in a pan, shallow fry the fish (I can see your frown there (smiley) yes, it might be blasphemy to some who doggedly persist that you should never fry the fish. Take a call - if the ilish is indeed very fresh, you need not fry it).
- Marinate the fried fish with rest of the turmeric, red chilli powder, whipped curd and just a pinch of salt.
- To the same pan, add the rest of the oil, when smoking hot, throw in the nigella seeds and green chillies.
- When they stop spluttering, turn the heat to low and gently slide in the fish along with the marinade. Cook for a couple of minutes till the curd starts to release oil.
- Now add a little warm water to the mustard paste, add to the yoghurt gravy and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Adjust the salt and serve with steamed rice.