Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bengali-style Hilsa Fish Chutney Dessert Recipe

Us Bengalis, we like our fish. And of all fish, Ilish (Hilsa) occupies a special place in our hearts. Over the years, I have had all possible Hilsa preparations, or so I thought.
Last weekend, while at my in-laws' place, I had Hilsa Chutney and it was a singularly mind blowing bit of dessert I have had in my entire life - not only because it was tasty, it was - mother-in-law is a fantastic cook - but because I could have never envisioned this dish had I not had it.

Here is the recipe should you decide to try it:

100g of Hilsa head
1 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 cup of strained and diluted black tamarind paste (the consistency should be so that it is just thick anough to coat the back of a spoon dipped into it)
Salt, sugar and chilly powder to taste
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 cup Mustard oil

1. Rub in most of the turmeric (1tbsp)  and some salt on the Hilsa heads. Leave for 5-10 minute.
2. Heat the mustard oil in a wok and fry the Hilsa heads over high heat till brown and crispy. Remove the heads from the oil and set aside.
3. Drain off most of the oil from the wok, leaving only a tea-spoon in the wok.
4. Reduce the flame and add the mustard seeds to the wok.
5. Once the mustard seeds start sputtering (be careful at this stage that they do not burn), add the tamarind paste, sugar, the remaining turmeric and a pinch of chilli powder and give it a good mix.
6. Add the fried fish heads and stir it all together gently so as to coat the fish-bits thoroughly.
7. Let it simmer on a gentle heat and adjust the sweetness according to your taste. Since it is a chutney to be had as a dessert, the predominant flavor should be sweet with salty-sour undertones and a hint of heat from the chilly powder.
8. Once the consistency is syrupy thick, remove from heat and let it cool.
9. Serve at room temperature, not cold.

A typical meal suggestion would be: Fried Hilsa for starter, steamed rice and Hilsa in mustard gravy as the main course and the Hilsa chutney as dessert.

Try this chutney if you like Hilsa. It is all kinds of delicious :).

Do you like Hilsa? Have you had Hilsa chutney? What is your favorite Hilsa preparation? Share in the comments below.

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