Thursday, 1 September 2011

Kalo Jeere bata ar Lau diye Ilisher Matha / Hilsa cooked with Bottle gourd

( Vegetarians can enjoy this dish too. Just ignore the adding of the fish part in the recipe and serve with chopped fresh coriander leaves.)

I had started food blogging with no particular aim ... not even of keeping my recipes for myself. And with time got hooked to it. The more friends I made, the more people visited my blog, the more I got mails ... the more the addiction.

But I cannot overlook the fact that my blogging has been marred with breaks and has me thinking if it is jinxed for me. I am not superstitious ...
 still cannot make out why the moment I do a few posts, I have to take a break ...
that are turning longer by the time ...
with health related issues.

I am not ready to turn superstitious just yet ... but do wonder if having a havan done for Kichu Khon or chanting of a few mantras would let me do my favourite thing in peace ..
... i.e. cook and share it with you all.

And since I have not yet found the answer,
I am thinking of at least hanging a string of nimbu mirchi from my nose when
I sit down to make a post.  :-)

Am slowly getting back my kitchen to myself.
And was waiting for a taste of this year's Ilish/Hilsa.
Since I have been traveling a lot in the recent past, I did not get the chance of having ilish
even once this season.
So when my fishwala called, I rushed and bought a good 1.5 kg 'Kalkatta ka Ilish'.
Ilsih from Calcutta means Ganga's Ilsih ...
which is said to be tastier than the other varieties.

The fish was good.
Not too small ... too small sized Ilish has too many bones ... thin as threads ... and very difficult to deal with.
Not too big ... too big and with too much roe fish does not taste as good.

And after relishing the plain Ilish Bhaja, Patla Jhol, Ambol, and Chanchra,
I still had a few pieces and part head left.
Wanted something different, so called out to my FB friends for a recipe.

Sudeshna suggested making it with Lau / Lauki / the Bottle gourd
after coming to know of the few vegetables I had in my fridge.
Thanks Sudeshna for the quick suggestion!

 I'd been watching a lot of cookery shows the past few months and all the Bengali channels had Ilish as the main ingredient ever since the monsoons started.
And I kept track of all the recipes.
Since the Ilish is such a flavourful fish, too many masalas are not needed.
Just a variation in the tempering and you will get a wonderful dish!

So here is a new dish that I made with the Ilisher matha.
It was so good I did not need anything else to go with my plate of steaming hot rice!
I believe this will make a wonderful dish on the side if you are planning
a traditional Bengali meal or feast.

Here's is how I made it.

Need :  One Ilish / Hilsa head - medium sized
( marinate with some salt and turmeric powder ... no need to keep for longer than 10 mins )
Mustard oil - around 6 tbsp
Kalo Jeere / Kalaunji - around 4 tbsp
Kalo Morich / Black Pepper - 1 tbsp
Lau / Lauki - 1 medium sized
Grated Ginger - 1 tbsp
Green Chillies - 3
Haldi / Turmeric powder - a pinch ( not more )
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste - 1 small pinch

How to :

Peel and chop the Lau into small sized pieces.
Grind the Kalo Jeere and the Black Pepper seperately in the mixer ... without water.
( I just ran the Kalaunji twice  but made a finer powder of the black pepper ).

Heat the mustard oil in a kadahi / wok.
Fry the fish head well on all sides ... cover after letting in  and when turning ... splutters real bad.
Do not over fry or brown it too much.
Remove and lightly break it into pieces ... usually pressing it down with a strong ladle helps it to break into proper sized pieces. 

Heat a little more oil in a fresh kadahi
( usually the same oil is used but if the oil gets burnt or there is too much turmeric when frying the head, it affects the taste ).

Break the green chillies into half and add them to the oil.
Next, add the chopped lau and toss well.
Now add the grated ginger, a little turmeric, sugar and salt.
Cover and cook till the lau is almost done.
Remove cover and add the ground Kalo jeere / Kalaunji.
Cover again and cook for 5 mins. This helps in the flavours to seep in.
Now remove cover and add the fish head and replace cover.
Do check if there is enough moisture or add a little water if needed.
Cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove the cover, sprinkle the ground black pepper and give a good stir.
Replace cover and remove from heat.

Serve with hot steamed rice and a dal on the side.

This dish turned out to be one of my best experiments so far!
It is so different that I'd encourage vegetarians to try making the Lauki this way once.


Other Ilish Recipes on Kichu Khon


  1. Dear Sharmila
    Enjoyed your post , it was a treat after a long time indeed!
    I like this recipe. Never used Kalo-jeere paste and ginger combo before with Ilish! I have quite a few Ilsha head in fridge. So will cook soon as per your recipe. One head is lined up for Sayantani's recipe with Chal kumro.. then I will make yours :-)
    Regarding Ilish taste , the best ones you get from Thailand and Burma. In fact most of the Ilish you get in Europe or USA are sourced from these countries with a Bangladeshi stamp!!! Even Mahanadi Ilish is also awesome. Actually Ilish is there through out the world. The Potomac river Ilish is also good. But the Ilish of Bay of Bengal has the best fragrance. This is mainly because of their food habit when they travel into river..I am not discussing here the food habit of Ilish...
    Will be looking forward to more great recipes from you , as usual
    Bhalo theko

  2. Glad to see ur post ,this one looks delicious,keep blogging ,...

  3. Ei Kalo Jeer bata amio ekbar kothao dekhe korechilam kintu teto hoye gechilo. Tumi ki roast kore dry grind korle ? Ki rokom hobe taste ta ?
    Ei Lau ta besh onyo rokom hoyeche.Jodi ebar Ilish pai korbo

  4. I have never had this but it looks super super delicious. Just looking to the pic makes me make drool :-)

  5. Thanks to your suggestion Sudeshna. Bangalore e ilish pawa jaye na?!

    Ushnishda ... thanks. It was my experiment ... one that am going to repeat agin and again.
    About the fish .. you know am no expert. :-)

    Priyanka ... thanks! :-)

    Sandeepa ... teto howar kotha toh bhabini ... emni dry grind korechilam ... ran it not more than twice in the mixie ... just crushed hobe. Thought of soaking it but did not.
    Taste toh besh bhaloi hoyechilo. Try kore dekho ... bhalo lagbe. :-)

    Finla ... thanks! It was new to me too and loved it. :-)

  6. Welcome back Sharmila, good to have you blogging again.

  7. Dear Sharmila
    Yes if you use a bit excess kalo jeere paste it will be slight bitter...I do use it in traditional Khulna dish like with lau, boDi , a dash of milk and kalo jeere kacha lanka as tempering ..or Kochur mukhi with Bodi and Kalo jeere bata...but surely the bitterness is no where near Methi or karela ....

  8. Hi Sharmila, anek din pare kintu darun ekta keeper recipe post korle..kalo jeere bata diye konodin sununi Ilish mach ranna, but sound exotic, try korbo for sure..bhalo theko

  9. For non bengalis like me, what is Ilish??Or is there any other name its known by? Sorry.......
    The recipe looks inviting. Good to have you back posting again.

  10. Madhu ... thanks! :-)

    Ushnishda ... bitterness of karela and methi is edible/likeable bitterness. But if a tempering goes wrong and turns bitter, the whole dish will turn bad.

    Indrani ... amar kache o ekkebare notun chilo ... kintu khub bhalo laaglo. Thanks! :-)

    Poornima ... it is called the Hilsa also. You can find more details here ...

  11. Wow...looks yummy!!

    Regarding you thinking your blogging could be jinxed,I have something to say. It is generally for doing the most worthwhile things or even the most "close to heart" things in Life we have to give many tests and pass many rough patches. I would ask you to see it like that. Whatever is troubling you, I hope it resolves soon and till then hope the blog remains your oasis. :)

  12. Sharmila,
    Khob bhalo laglo tumaar noton post dekhe..and ilish lao and kalo jeerey bata amaar jonne noton recipe..dekhte besh hoyeche and I am sure khete aro bhalo hobe..hugs and smiles

  13. Daroon ekta recipe Indrani said, a recipe for keeps!!

  14. LOL on you wanting to do a hawan for your blog or tying chili and lemon on your nose while writing a post. But laughs aside, I totally get what you are saying. Once you lose the rythm of blogging, it gets harder and harder to post regularly. I speak from experience so you are not alone my friend. I just try to remember to have fun when I blog and never let it become a chore. :-)

  15. Arunima ... such nice words! Thanks friend! :-)

    Jaya ... ami on an impulse kore fellam ... kheye dekhi khub tasty! Ekbar kore dekho. And thanks! :-)

    Sharmistha ... thanks! Share na kore thakte parlam na. :-)

    Jaya ... LOL. Right, I do try to remember that. Thanks! :-)

  16. khub bhalo laglo tomar post dekhe. amar kadin shorirta bhalo jachhe na. sebhabe online asa hayni...aji dekhlam tomar post. ami to akhon Kolkatay tai khub ilish kheyechi ebare. Ilish macher matha die amrao lau er ghanto banai kintu kalojeere bata ta akdom notun idea. kalojeerer gandhota ato bhalo lage...akdom notun dharoner lagbe ei dish ta. banabo joldi.

  17. iiisshh ami eta kono din khayi ni.. kothay pabo ilish, kothaye pabo matha :(.. kalo jeere er gondho pachi!

    so good to see your post, jodio amar ashte onek deri hoye gelo!

  18. Sayantani .. thanks! Ekhon shorir kemon ache? Taratari bhalo hoye otho. :-)

    Soma ... no probs. And thanks. :-)


Thank you for sharing Kichu Khonn( a few moments ) with me in my kitchen!