Barishali Ilish: Let’s Make A Scrumptious Monsoon Fish Dish

Shalini Thakur

Shalini Thakur
Oct 2023

2 min read
Barishali Ilish Recipe

Cooking Time

15 minutes

Total Time

25 minutes

  • 4 pieces of Hilsa fish (Ilish)
  • 2-3 green chilies, slit (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black cumin (kalo jeera)
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Barishali Ilish is a wholesome curry recipe, it is a celebration of the Hilsa fish, known as the “King of Fish,” combined with a mix of seasonal flavors. 

    So, this dish pays homage to the traditions of Bengal, where the subtle flavor of Hilsa fish blends perfectly with the zing of mustard seeds, the touch of natural sweetness from jaggery, and the appeal of fresh seasonal vegetables.

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    How To Make Barishali Ilish?

    The healthy recipe is a delightful Bengali fish dish made with Hilsa (Ilish) in a mustard-based gravy.

    Here’s a recipe for 2 servings:

    Preparing Mustard Paste:

    • Firstly, soak the yellow mustard seeds in warm water for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to grind them into a smooth paste.
    • Secondly, after soaking, drain the water and grind the mustard seeds to make a smooth mustard paste. Add a little water if needed.

    For Preparing Fish:

    • Further, clean the Hilsa fish pieces and rub them with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Let them sit for about 15 minutes.
    • In a pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of mustard oil. Mustard oil adds an authentic Bengali flavor, but it has a strong taste. If you prefer a milder taste, use a different cooking oil.
    • Fry the Hilsa fish pieces in the hot oil until they turn golden brown.

    For Preparing the Gravy:

    • In the same pan, add more oil if needed, and then add black cumin (kalo jeere). Let them sizzle for a few seconds.
    • Add the mustard paste, turmeric powder, and green chilies to the pan. Cook the mustard paste over low heat until it releases its oil and the raw smell disappears. Stir constantly to avoid burning.
    • Add water to achieve the desired consistency for the gravy. You can add more water for a thinner gravy or less for a thicker one.
    • Once the mustard paste is well-cooked and the gravy is formed, add salt to taste.
    • Return the seared Hilsa fish pieces to the pan and gently mix them with the mustard gravy.
    • Simmer for a few more minutes until the fish is heated through and the flavors are well combined.
    • Serve your fish curry hot with steamed rice for an authentic Bengali meal.

    Nutritional Value:

    approximate nutritional values for a typical serving of two:

    NutrientAmount per Serving (Approximate)
    Calories250-350 calories
    Protein20-25 grams
    Carbohydrates10-15 grams
    Fat15-20 grams
    Fiber2-3 grams
    Vitamins and Minerals potential sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium
    Hilsa FishRich source of omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, and various vitamins and minerals

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    Fun Fact

    100 g of raw Poha contains 70 g of healthy carbs. Unlike rice, Poha contains 2-4 g fiber per 100 g serving, depending on the source and its processing. Because of the high fiber content, blood sugar levels do not rise rapidly, plus it helps keep you full for a long. An added bonus- POHA IS GLUTEN-FREE!

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    What Is Barishali Ilish, And Why Is It Associated With The Monsoon? 

    It is a traditional Bengali dish made with Hilsa fish, a seasonal delicacy. It reminds people of monsoon season because Hilsa fish is abundant during this time, making it a popular and cherished monsoon meal.

    Where Can I Find Hilsa Fish If I Don’t Live In Bengal? 

    If you don’t have access to fresh Hilsa fish, you can check with local seafood markets or stores that specialize in Indian or Bengali ingredients. In some areas, you might also find frozen Hilsa fish.

    What Are The Key Ingredients That Give This Ilish Its Unique Taste? 

    This recipe is famous for its distinctive flavor, which comes from a combination of mustard seeds, green chilies, jaggery, and seasonal vegetables like pointed gourd (potol) and eggplant (begun).

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    This blog was written to help you make healthy and better food choices. So, be aware and take care. The vital thing to consider is your health before starting a restrictive diet. Therefore, before starting, always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian if you have any concerns.

    Eat Healthy, Live Healthy. Enjoy a long, happy life.

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