I finally entered the kitchen last week after recovering from the slipped disk (actually after a month!) and was in a mood to cook something special. As always I was in a dilemma what should I opt for! However, after checking the stock I decided to pick a packet full of Hilsa fish chunks which I ordered the day before. It has to be something special; something vibrant; something very close to my heart. I then ended on cooking the Ilish Pulao. It is easy to make and a perfect one-pot meal and hence perfect to break my cooking-fast.
My obsession with Ilish Mach!
Who can define the relationship between the lunch/dinner table and a piece of Ilish mach! Believe me, it’s difficult; really difficult to depict the relation of Ilish with a Bong Household! Though much favored by the “Bangal ( Bengali’s with origin in Bangladesh)” community but “Ghoti’s ( Bengalis with origin in India) “are also having an indestructible relationship with this pricey, snobby fish, as well. Ilish / Hilsa is the National Fish of Bangladesh and here in India, it’s nothing but a celebrity within the fish community.
We Bong’s can have Ilish in the thinkable (sometimes unthinkable) form! Though mostly we have it as a side dish complemented with steamed rice but a mix version i.e. Ilish Pulao is quite popular and super tasty! I have had Ilish Biriyani also which is something like “Kolkata Biriyani “and completely different from the Ilish Pulao. In Bangladesh “Ilish Pulao” is quite popular and is a traditional dish prepared by generations. In the Pulao Ilish has to play the dominant role instead of other spices and in fact, traditionally people didn’t like to add added flavor or color, etc. I personally love the traditional process of preparing “Ilish Pulao” with the supremacy of this elitist fish!!
Ilish Pulao, the recipe!
I have been following this recipe of Ilish Pulao and completely satisfied with this. The Key is the quality of the Ilish used in the recipe. I never use Ilish mach aka Hilsa fish below 1kg while cooking Ilish Pulao or any other dish. This is a strict no no at home. In addition, good quality Rice is needed in making this dish. Apart from that, I use very little spices which is to enhance the flavor of the fish.
Here’s how I cook Ilish Pulao at Debjanir Rannaghar!
- Ilish Mach / Hilsa Fish: 5-7 pieces (around 600 g or more and preferably bit big sized pieces)
- Basmati Rice: 500 g
- Onion: 3 for paste (medium sized)
- Onion: 2 for
Beresta(Fried Golden Onions)
- Ginger: 2”
- Garlic: 8-10 cloves
- Green Chili: 8-10 (based on your taste bud)
- Dry Red Chili: 2
- Bay Leaves: 2
- Green Cardamom: 4
- Black Cardamom: 1
- Cinnamon Stick: 2”
- Clove: 8-10
- Turmeric Powder: 2 Tsp.
- Kashmiri Chili Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Plain Curd: 1 Cup (75 g)
- Salt to taste
- Mustard Oil: 4 tbsp.
- Ghee / Clarified butter: 2 tbsp.
- Wash Pieces of Hilsa fish properly and rub them with 1 Tsp. turmeric powder and 1 Tsp. salt and keep them aside.
- Fry Fish chunks lightly or use raw fishes as it is to make the gravy based on your preference.
- Make a paste of 3 onions, ginger and garlic separately.
- Hit oil in a pan/wok and add onion paste and fry for 3-4 minutes or till you get a golden brown color and add ginger and garlic paste and again cook for 3-4 minutes in medium flame.
- Add Salt and Kashmiri Red Chilli powder as well.
- Now beat the card and pour it into the pan and cook till oil comes out from the mixture.
- Now it’s time to add Ilish Mach.
- Add fish pieces with care and cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes in low flame.
- Open the lid and turn fishes very carefully as we need to have them intact! In this point, you can add 1-2 tbsp. of water if you feel the gravy is drying too much and cook for another 5-7 minutes in low flame. We need not too runny but a thick and rich gravy for Pulao so add water accordingly ( ½ cup is more than enough).
- Take Basmati Rice in a bowl and wash it 3-4 times and keep that rice covered with water for 30-40 minutes and after that drain all the water.
- Take a Deep bottom pan (preferably non-stick one) with a lid for preparing the rice.
- Now Take the double amount of water of the rice and pour that into the thick pan and bring the water to boil.
- Add a few chunks of whole cardamom, bay leaf, clove and cinnamon in the boiling water.
- Now add rice and mix the rice properly and add salt to the rice.
- Cover the rice with the lid and cook it for around 10 minutes in medium flame or till the rice is 90 % done. You need to check the water in between as there is no need for much water in the rice at the time of assembling the rice and the fish.
- Off the flame and open the lid of the pan and give 5 minutes stand to the rice.
- Take Ghee in the Pan and heat the ghee and temper it with remaining bay leaves, dry red chili, cinnamon stick, and cardamoms and mix this mixture lightly with the cooked rice.
- Take half of the rice on a plate and place Hilsa pieces very carefully on the top of the rice that you have in the pan and after that spread the Hilsa gravy over the fish and rice mixture.
- Pour some Beresta” and half of the slitted green chilies.
- Now Put remaining rice that’s separated in a plate over the fishes and put remaining Beresta and slitted green Chilies.
- Cover the pan with the lid and cook on low flame for 5-7 minutes and switched off the flame.
- Open the lid after 5 minutes and give the Ilish Pulao another 5 minutes of standing time.
- Be careful while serving the Pulao as Ilish is a delicate darling!
Pulao/ Biryani/ Rice-based Recipes from Debjanir Rannaghar apart from Ilish Pulao:
- Birista Pulao (Also known as Piyaz Beresta Pulao)
- Crab Biryani (Also known as Crab Dum Biryani or Nandu Biryani)
- Kolkata Mutton Biryani (Also known as Calcutta Biryani)
- Bou Khuda (also known as Boua Pulao or Bou Khudi)
- Bengali Basanti Pulao (Also known as Bengali Holud Pulao or Bhoger Misti Pulao)
- Awadhi Vegetable Tehri (Also known as Veg Tahiri)
- Bangladeshi Mutton Tehari (Also known as mutton tahiri)
- Ghee Bhat (Also known as Bengali Sweet Pulao)
- Peas Pulao (Also known as Matar Pulao)
Have you tried the Ilish Pulao recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, on Instagram, you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar and in addition, you can tag me at @foodofdebjani.
Here’s the Hilsa Pulao Pin for your Pinterest Board!