Shorshe Ilish – Hilsa in mustard sauce

Fish loving Bangladeshis love the Hilsa fish (ilish) so much that we have it is their national fish. Bangladeshis the claim that Hilsa can be cooked in a 100 different ways. This recipe is one of my all time favorites. The best Hilsa comes from the Padma river (as the Ganges is called in Bangladesh).

Shorshe Ilish - Hilsa in mustard sauce
Shorshe Ilish - Hilsa in mustard sauce


  • 1 Ilish (Hilsha) fish, cut into steaks
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (or ground mustard paste)
  • 6 green chilis
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil, mustard oil preferred
  • Salt to taste


  • Rub some salt and turmeric on the fish steaks and set aside
  • If you use whole mustard seeds, ground them into a paste along with the green chili and a tablespoon of water
  • Heat the oil in a flat bottomed pan
  • Saute the onions until light brown
  • Add the mustard/chili paste and rest of the spices and striy fry 2-3 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup of water, making sure you scrape any spices that are stuck to the bottom of the pan
  • Add the fish steak and cook covered over medium heat for about 10-minutes
  • Flip over the fish and cook covered another 5 minutes until excess water has evaporated
  • Check for salt and sprinkle additional salt if necessary

5 thoughts on “Shorshe Ilish – Hilsa in mustard sauce”

  1. A few suggested variations:
    a) Fry the fish lightly to get a crispy feel and set aside.
    b) Put Kalo Jeere /Kalonji, one green chilly a, one red chilly and a few methis into the oil.
    c) Pour the mustard-poppy seeds (posto)-chilly paste and turmeric and a dash of red chilly powder.A little amount of ginger enhances the flavour.
    d)Fry the spices for a while.
    e)Pour water and fish pieces.
    f)Pour a few drops of mustard oil before you take it out of the oven.

    This recipe is without onion and garlic and is very popular among the Hindus in West Bengal.

  2. I usually prefer not to use onion on Hilsha which will overpower and destroy the taste of the fish. I might add few cilantro leaves but not necessary. Hilsha has a strong fishy flavor just with mustard paste and little oil steamed can be a great mouth watering dish.

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