Where will the fish live other than in water? This unusual fish recipe gets its name Ilisher Pani Khola or Hilsa Fish in Water possibly from its watery look. Unusual because unlike most fish dishes that use mustard oil as the medium, Ilisher Pani Khola uses white oil and it tastes heavenly. Debasish tries it out this experimental recipe on the costly next-to-gold Hilsa fish, On the Foodpath.
Friends, I haven’t ever tried this before as the fish in question is the costliest in this subcontinent and who will dare to experiment this way? Cooking this exotic fish dish is so very simple with so less of ingredients that several questions at several points of time cropped up in mind. However, I gathered courage enough to try it and was awestruck by the taste, look and flavour.
The orthodox Bong regime, most of them, raised their eyebrows and warned me that one should not ever think of spoiling the costly next-to-gold Hilsa this way. But, the stubborn me, who is always interested in experimenting, cares least when it comes to cooking. I do not go by hearsay but love to try it myself. Even having a bit of doubt of it being boomeranging, I started planning for cooking Ilisher Pani Khola (Hilsa Fish in Water).
I got a pair of Hilsas which arrived fresh from Diamond Harbour Jetty down south of Kolkata. When Bina, my fish-seller in the local market, called me and informed that she had kept two fish, each 1.5 kilos for me, I could not wait and amidst torrential rain I went to her shop to grab those silver queens.
I have heard of Ilisher Pani Khola in my childhood but could not recollect whether I had tasted it, either cooked by Maa or Baba. I searched a few YouTube cookery sites and finally managed to reach one recipe that appealed proper to me. But, surprisingly all the recipes used white oil / refined oil which was giving me doubts. How come a traditional recipe of Bengal used white oil when all the other fish curries are made out of mustard oil? Perhaps to retain the watery look this might have been used, I gave solace to myself. A few of my relatives and friends said onion in Hilsa? Then it will be spoiled. God bless you.
With so much of ‘encouragement’, I held my head high and with a mind without fear cooked Ilisher Pani Khola.
1. Ilish Machh (Hilsa Fish) – 6 pieces
2. Onion – 1
3. Green chili – 6
4. Salt – As per taste
5. Refined oil – 2 tbsp.
1. Wash fish carefully as these have roe and drain water. Keep aside.
2. Finely chop onion.
3. Slit green chillies.
1. Take oil in a wok.
2. Drop chopped onion, slit green chillies and salt.
3. Mix all well with hand crushing all as much as possible.
4. Light gas oven and sit the wok on it on medium flame.
5. Add a cup of water.
6. Sprinkle salt on fish pieces and rub with tender hand.
7. Drop fish in.
8. Increase heat and cook covered.
9. Check that the water poured must submerge fish. If not, add a little more water to adjust.
10. After 10 minutes open lid and turn fish carefully to cook on the reverse side.
11. Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes on medium heat and under cover.
12. The gravy should be adequate to have with rice.
13. Turn off heat and keep under cover till you arrange your meal.
14. Ilisher Pani Khola (Hilsa Fish in Water) is ready to serve.
A fish dish with so much adorable taste and flavour could be made so simply was beyond even imagination. My daughter and wife also admired the divine dish wholeheartedly.
Happiness is… always in experimenting in your kitchen.
More On the Foodpath!
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