I haven't been lucky enough to be able to cook Ilish this year. But do have a lot of photos and recipes languishing in my folders.
I was actually waiting for the season to be able to post them. Posting them on any other time of the year makes no sense, at least to me, when you cannot try them out, no matter how sincerely you want to.
When I looked into the folder where I had typed out this recipe in a hurry, when I had made this last to last year, the first line I saw was this - ilisher jhol ( my way .. tried , good)
The jhol turns out to be very light, fragrant with the distinct smell of jeera / cumin and the Ilish.
As with my other light jhol recipes, this too needs to be simmered for a longish time for the ilish to soak up the flavours of the jeera.
And also for the jhol to soak up the flavours of the ilish.
The taste and flavour of roasted jeera is very different from raw jeera.
So do not even try to think of substituting the raw jeera with it.
I have tried adding chopped dhone pata / coriander leaves at the end too.
And loved it.
So if you are a purist and already screaming sacrilege, I'd say go ahead. But after that, give this a try.
No, you do not have to come back to say you liked it.
I know you will.
For the Jeera paste : -
Jeera / Cumin seeds - around 5 tbsp, soak for around 3 hours
Ginger - 1 and ½" piece
Whole red chillies - 4 (if you like spicy then use around 6 or 7)
Tomato - 2 medium sized
For the jhol : -
Ilish / Hilsa - 4 pieces , lightly fried
Mustard oil - around 3 tbsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Salt - to taste
Water - enough for gravy
Lemon - half
How to :
Make a smooth paste of the jeera+ginger+red chillies+tomato.
(If you feel it is too much in quantity, use some and freeze the rest. You can use it later. )
Heat the oil in a kadahi.
Now add the jeera paste and fry well till the raw smell is gone.
Add the haldi and the red chilli powder.
Fry well till dryish and oil starts to leave the sides.
Add water and salt.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for around 3 minutes.
Add the fried Ilish / Hilsa pieces.
Squeeze in the lemon lightly.
Cover and let it simmer for a good 10 minutes.
The oil will float on the top.
Remove from heat.
A very light Ilisher jhol, fragrant with the combination of jeera and ilish, is ready.
Serve hot with plain, steamed rice.