The one thing that cannot be bound by barriers of language, race, or borders of countries is food. And when it comes to Hilsa, the one fish placed as the “fish of kings” in the landscape of Bengal, who cares if the cherished recipe originates from Bengal or Bangladesh? Barisal is a major city of Bangladesh on the banks of the Kirtankhola river. It is one of the oldest municipalities and river ports of the country, established in 1876 under the British.

The first recipe “Hilsa in coconut milk”, comes from Barishal. Though not a classic delicacy, this Barishali ilish recipe has garnered immense popularity with time, owing to the uniqueness of its preparation. All those whose ancestors have some way or the other a Barishali connect would have at some part of their life had this savoury dish. The recipe of it hence follows:

Narkel dudh e Ilish, a classic Bengali dish

Ilish in coconut milk

Ingredients:

One large Ilish 

Coconut Milk – 1 cup

Oil – ½ cup

Onion paste – ½ cup

Turmeric paste – 1 teaspoon

Coriander paste – 2 teaspoons

Red Chili paste – 2 teaspoons

Salt – as per taste

Green chilies – 5

Method:

• Clean the fish pieces thoroughly. 

• Pour oil into a handi. Put the spices one by one and cook till it dries up. 

• Sprinkle water and bring the consistency into a gravy-like mixture. 

• Add the pieces of fish. Cover it and let it boil until the fish becomes soft.

• Slowly pour the coconut milk and keep stirring the gravy.

• Add green chilies and let it boil on low flame for the next 15 minutes.

Here it’s done! Serve ilish in coconut milk with warm rice.

The next recipe ‘ilish machher paturi’ hails from Narayanganj, the capital city of Dhaka and a bustling port. It is also a centre of business and industry, especially the jute trade and processing plants, and the textile sector of the country. It is nicknamed the Dundee of Bangladesh due to the presence of its many jute mills. Since it is a port, no wonder this place has a constant supply of Hilsa. 

The name ‘ilish machher paturi’ may seem like a common Hilsa dish easily found in Bengal. But contrary to the popular procedure of preparing it by covering it with banana leaves, this recipe uses ‘pui saak’ as the upper layer! 

Ilish Paturi , a revered Bengali delicacy

Ilish machher paturi

Ingredients:

One large Ilish 

Chopped onion – 2 cups

Chopped green chilies – ½ cup

Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon

Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon

Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon

Jeera paste – ½ teaspoon

Coriander powder – ½ teaspoon

Salt – as per taste

Oil

Pui saak leaves 

Method:

• Clean the pieces of Hilsa thoroughly. 

• Make a thick paste by using all the spices and chopped onions. Smear it on one side of the fish.

• Place a pui saak leaf on a plate and carefully transfer the fish upside down. Smear the spice mixture on the back side too.

• Close the leaf in a way to cover the fish and gently tie it up with the thread so the fish and spices stay in place.

• Deep fry the ‘paturi’s in oil. Remove the thread before serving. 



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