Ilish macher tel Jhal (Hilsa fish stew with brinjal and potato)

9:30 AM

Age does queer things to us. It makes us do or like things that we never thought possible. otherwise I don't know how to explain the recent changes in my behaviour. I am pretty sure that it's age that makes me choose everything comforting or comfortable over all things fancy. That's true for almost everything. I now a days choose my cotton handloom sarees over fitted dress any day, in the hot and humid Kolkata weather I love my hair in a bun or plait than letting them down, have long ditched those heels which till a few years back I could not live without. 

Same for food. Though I have always loved my veggies but now a days the satisfying taste of fresh fruits are things that I look forward to for a quick snack options. So are light soupy curries flavoured with minimum of spices. I have never thought a day would come when I will choose this light tel jhal over sorshe jhal (mustard gravy). but it is true, over all the various recipes with Hilsa now a days I love this simple stew prepared only with salt, turmeric and mustard oil. Yes mustard oil, trust us Bongs you just cannot cook Hilsa with any other oil but mustard oil. There is something in that combination that elevates the flavour of this delicate fish to quite a few notch up.  and that golden layer of oil on top of the dish is everything that a Bengali like me will swear by. 

Also this recipe requires a lot of turmeric powder for the gravy to taste best. Its the turmeric, the oil and the salt that makes the perfect concoction for the pronounced Hilsa flavour.

And while we are on this topic of Hilsa let me share this small news. 4 of my off beat Hilsa recipes recently got published on Ananda Bazar Patrika's all India edition. Here is a small clip of that for people who can read Bengali.

Ilish Macher Tel Jhal.
(serves 4)

Hilsa steaks: 4 pieces
Potato: 1 medium
Brinjal: 1 medium
Salt: as per taste
Turmeric: 2 tsp
Mustard oil: 3 tbsp
Nigella seeds: 1/2 tsp
Green chillies: 5-6 or as per your heat tolerance.

Rub salt and turmeric on the Hilsa and keep aside for at least 15 minutes.
In the mean time slit the green chillies, peel and cut the potatoes in long wedges. Clean and cut the brinjal in half and then each half in 4-6 pieces depending on the size (in half moon shape).
In 1 cup water mix 11/4 tsp of turmeric powder and keep aside.

Heat the oil till smoking and then fry the potato wedges till they turn golden. Take out. 
Now fry the hilsa for a couple of minutes (a minute on each side). Take out and keep aside.
Add the nigella seeds and the green chillies. Cover with a splatter gourd as it might burst in the hot oil. Pour in the turmeric water and immediately cover. Cook on medium for a couple of minutes and then remove the lid.
Add 1/2 cup more water and bring it to a boil. Carefully put the fish, the fried potatoes and salt.
Cover and bring it to a boil. Now add the brinjal pieces, make sure the gravy is simmering or the brinjals will become hard.
Check the seasoning and if needed adjust the salt. I prefer to add more green chillies for flavour at this stage.
Cook for 5 minutes and then add 1 tsp more of mustard oil.
Cook till the potatoes are cooked through. 
Serve hot with steamed rice.

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