Ilish bhaja is ilish in its simplest form. Bengalis love their fried fish, but very few things come close to the fatty hilsa seasoned with just salt and turmeric, then fried in mustard oil until crunchy. The mustard oil gets flavoured with the rendered fat from the fish, and is then drizzled on top of steaming white rice and served alongside the ilish with some salt and hot green chillies.
- 2 pcs ilish or hilsa steaks (3-cm thick)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 green chillies
- mustard oil for frying
- Coat the ilish steaks with salt and turmeric and massage to cover the cavities well.
- Heat a kadai with mustard oil, 2 cm deep. Wait until the oil starts smoking and changes colour to pale yellow and its raw smell goes away.
- Reduce the flame and wait for the oil to stop smoking. Now add the fish pieces carefully.
- Fry each side until brown.
- Optionally, add a couple of green chillies towards the end to flavour the oil and the fish.
- Drain the fish and serve with steaming hot rice, green chillies and salt. Drizzle a tablespoon of the frying oil on top of the rice.