Ilish Bhaapa/ Steamed Hilsa Fish


Many people consider Hilsa to be the king of all fishes and Bengalis love to have it in various ways. Hilsa is so versatile that however you prepare it, the result will be delicious. Among the various varieties of Hilsa preparations, Bhaapa Ilish is one of the most delicious and popular recipe. It is basically a mouth-watering fish curry that is based on mustard and poppy seed paste, ground to paste together in a nearly equal proportion – but the mustard being a tad more in quantity. Steaming the fish along with all its juices and spices helps add layers of delectable flavours that will keep you coming back for more. This dish is best served with plain steamed rice. Use this easy recipe to prepare Ilish maach and impress your family and friends.



  • Ilish maach/ Hilsa fish
  • Turmeric powder or paste
  • Salt
  • Chilli powder or paste – preferably green chilli paste
  • Mustard paste
  • Poppy seed paste
  • Curd
  • Mustard Oil
  • Slit green chillies




  1. Wash the fish and keep it aside
  2. Prepare a mixture with salt, turmeric (powder/paste), chili (powder/paste), mustard paste, poppy seeds paste and curd. Use about 2 dinner spoons for 4-5 pieces of fish.
  3. Marinate the fish with the mixture you prepared so that all the fish pieces are completely covered with it.
  4. Top it with a swirl of mustard oil and add in a few pieces of slit green chilies.
  5. Leave it aside for about half an hour
  6. After that cover it in an airtight microwavable bowl (dish) with cover; and cook in the microwave for 6 to 7 minutes
  7. If you want you can steam the fish in traditional methods too. But for me, microwave is the easy way out.


Tip: To prepare the mixture that coats the fish, I usually make the paste with poppy seeds and mustard along with green chilies then mix in turmeric, salt and curd.