Kalojeera Diye Ilish Macher Jhol: Hilsa in a Fragrant Consommé

Hello and what’s cooking! Or in the “quintessential” Mumbai lingo, “Kya chal raha hain?” I’m going to tell you all something very funny.

Yesterday, I read a blog that used the word “quintessential” atleast eight times in a 350 word long paragraph. Really, eight times? I know I am going to sound very mean but this is what one does when one learns that word fresh out of the dictionary. So, every “typical”, “very Indian”, “normal” effortlessly becomes quintessential. How I know it? I’ve done that many times but only when I was in Fourth standard or something. My father used to make me read dictionary and asked me to form sentences with the respective words. This, actually, strengthened my vocabulary by degrees, but oftentimes, in order to be a show-off, I used to overdo things. A tad bit really! What was more funny was the fact that the said blogger is 60+ and he claims to be a captain for chemical hauling ships. Hmm, quintessentially shippy! Very fishy.

And that brings us back to the fish we are about to cook.

Hilsa is possibly a Bengali’s favorite fish. They just love Hilsa in any form: with mustard paste, in a clear gravy, fried and even the oil in which they are fried is eaten with steamed rice. This shows how much do they love Hilsa. And when I say “they” here, that obviously means that I am also included, as I am also a Bengali. And this fish, I tell you, is the extremists’ fav: people either totally like it or totally hate it. I think you all will like it.

Take a look at the recipe. I tell you, this is so simple that you’ll pinch yourself!


Kalojeera diye Ilish Macher Jhol: Hilsa in a Fragrant Consommé


  • Hilsa fish: 4 pieces
  • Brinjal, cut in lengths: 4 pieces
  • Green chillies, slit: 3-4
  • Kalonji (also called nigella seeds, black caraway or onion seeds): 2 pinchfuls
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt and sugar as per taste
  • Mustard oil


  • Marinate the fish pieces with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.
  • Heat mustard oil in a wok or kadhai and fry the fish pieces till they are golden. Keep it aside.
  • In the same vessel, add some more oil and fry the brinjal pieces till golden. Don’t over-fry them or they will melt. Keep these fried brinjal pieces aside.
  • In the same oil, add the kalonji and green chilies and let it sit for just a few seconds. You don’t want to burn it. You are just getting enough heat in it, for it to release the aroma.
  • After a few seconds, take your wok off the heat and add the turmeric powder, salt and sugar and cook for 2 min.
  • Put it on heat, stir for 1 min, add some water and add the fried fish pieces and fried brinjal pieces.
  • Cover with lid and cook for 10 min.
  • Your fish curry is done here and don’t even try adding coriander leaves or anything. You’ll spoil the taste of it all.
  • Enjoy authentic Bengali-style Hilsa with steamed rice only and nothing else, please.


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