I was thinking to write anything but a Bengali recipe and almost done with a post last night. However, by dinner, my plan changed. After all, I had rice with Ilish bhapa followed by Ilish Macher Tok. Then came the self-realization 😛 . My blog is not having the recipe of Ilish Macher Tok so far and that was enough to close the unfinished post and to come up with another with the recipe of Ilish Macher Tok aka Ilish Macher Tawk.
Again, another Bengali recipe; needless to say a favorite. A runny Chutney prepared with Hilsa fish aka Ilish Mach. This dish is quite popular amongst the Bengalis. We mostly use the Fish head aka Muro and Fishtail aka Leja to Make the Tok or Tawk. However, I prefer to use one or two fish chunks as well while making the Ilish Macher Tawk. This dish is prepared with mostly fried-fish and we use the leftover oil from the wok to grab some more rice! sheer bliss it is to pair Ilish Macher Tel and Bhat. Well, I will share the Tel details some other time as this post is meant for humble Ilish Macher Tok, the almost show stopper.
Yes, almost Show stopper it is as the bongs don't have Chutney or tok or ambol all through the meal instead we prefer to have it just before the dessert. Now that we are available with Ilish Mach in abundance here in Kolkata, the fish-loving Bengalies are utilizing the silver beauty as much as possible while cooking. At least, I am doing it.
Typical Bengali Meal Structure:
Before going further with the recipe, here I must share a few things about the Bengali meal structure. This will help the readers to understand the reason behind serving the Tok Chutney etc almost at the end of the meal. A typical Bengali meal (with Rice) generally started with a bitter based dish such as Shukto or Chorchori etc followed by Dal and some kind of side dishes (e.g Aloo Phulkopir Dalna or Muri Ghonto etc), Bhorta and/ or fries (for e.g Begun Bhaja). This then followed by Fish curry, or meat curry or Egg curry or Veg sides. Chutney or Tok or Ambol is served as a palate cleanser after that. We generally have this along with rice. The meal ended with a dessert.
Needless to say, Ilish Macher Tok which is a type of runny Chutney follows the same pattern mentioned above.
Ilish Macher Tok:
Ilish Macher Tok is a Tamarind based runny Fish Chutney prepared with Hilsa fish. More precisely it is a runny sweet and sour fish soup and certainly served with Rice. This Bengali delicacy is another example of utilizing fish-head and tail apart from the Ilish Macher Shukto, Bhangachora Shukto or Muri Ghonto or Kanta Chorchori or Macher Matha diye Dal.
The recipe calls for some basic ingredients apart from Hilsa Fish chunks. Also, as tempering, we use Bengali five spices or Panch phoron along with dry red chili. Tamarind paste is used as a souring agent. In my family, I always have seen this dish prepared with Jaggery or Gur however, this can be substituted with Sugar . However, Jaggery gives added flavor and earthy aroma to the dish. Last but not the least, I don't use Khoka Ilish or Baby fish.
Here's how you make Ilish Macher Tok!Print
Ilish Macher Tok is a signature Bengali style runny Fish Chutney prepared with mainly Hilsa Head and tail. This dish is characterized by the balance of sweet and sour flavors.
- Hilsa Chunk (mainly head and tail): 2-3
- Tamarind Paste: 2 Tbsp.
- Jaggery: 100g
- Bengali Five Spices/ Panchphoron: 1/2 Tsp.
- Dry Red Chili: 1-2
- Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Mustard Oil: 2 Tbsp.
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- Wash Hilsa chunks.
- Cut Fish head into halves and make a few slits on the tail.
- Marinade with Turmeric Powder and Salt.
- Mix tamarind paste with one cup of boiling water and leave the mixture for 10 minutes.
- Using a strainer separate the fibers and keep the tamarind water aside.
- Now heat Oil in a Pan and fry fish chunks from both sides.
- Strain from oil and keep aside.
- Temper remaining Oil with Bengali Five Spices and Red Chili.
- Add Tamarind water followed by 2 Cups of water.
- Add Jaggery and salt to taste and bring it to boil.
- Once boiling started, add fried fish chunks and cook for 5 minutes by covering the pan with a lid.
- This dish should have sufficient liquid at the end. Hence, adjust water as much as required.
- Switch off the flame and wait till the Ilish Macher Tok comes into room temperature.
- You may fridge it or can serve it at room temperature with steamed rice at the end of the meal.
This dish is mainly prepared with the head and tail of Hilsa fish, however, I at times add one or two pieces from the mid portion of the fish. This is completely optional.
I have used around 200g fish.
In my family, I have always seen the Ilish macher tok cooked with Jaggery instead of Sugar. You may use an equal quantity of sugar as well. However, I prefer using Jaggery for the earthy Flavor.
Bengali Five spices are available in departmental stores.
- Category: Chutney
- Cuisine: Bengali
- Serving Size: 75g
- Calories: 191
- Sugar: 20.8g
- Sodium: 1592mg
- Fat: 6.9g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 22.5g
- Fiber: 0.4g
- Protein: 9.7g
- Cholesterol: 17mg
Chutney/ Ambol/ Tok recipes from Debjanir Rannaghar apart from Ilish Macher Tok:
- Kacha Aamer Ambol | Runny Bengali Mango Soup | Amer Tawk
- Tomato Amsotto Khejur er Chutney
- Gur diye Topa Kul ar Tometor Chatni; it is all about chetey chetey Khawa…..
- Kuler Achaar | Boroi-er Aachar | Jujube Sweet pickle | Ber ka achar
- Kerala Chemmeen Achar aka Kerala Style Prawn Pickle
- Lal Mirch Ka Benarasi Achar
Have you tried the Ilish Macher Tok 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 email@example.com. Similarly, on Instagram, you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar or can tag me at @foodofdebjani.
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