Ilish also known as Hilsa, Palla, Ullam is a fish eaten mostly in Bengal and Bangladesh though it is enjoyed in other parts of the country too. Since I was a kid I have loved Ilish and since it has lots of bones mum would always de-bone it for me and feed me. Hilsa belongs to the Herring family and is an oily fish which may survive in marine as well as fresh water. This fish can weigh upto 3kg and grow 60 cm long. It is the national fish of Bangladesh and is smoked, fried, steamed, baked in young plantain leaves, cooked with mustard paste, curd, brinjals along with other spices. In Bengal and Bangladesh it is almost a tradition to eat Ilish maach with Paanta bhat (fermented rice) for breakfast on Pohela Boishakh which is the Bengali New year. In Bengal, the oil from the fried fish is served with rice and salt and enjoyed with fried Hilsa eggs. Shorshe maacher Jhol and Doi Ilish are the most famous preparations of Ilish. The amount of bones in a small fish is a lot more than those in a big fish and the texture and taste differs to a great extent. Similarly, salt water and fresh water fishes also have a lot of differences in the way they taste.
Here I’ll mention a link where you can see the recipe of Shorshe Maacher Jhol in a very interesting manner. I hope you enjoy the video.
A few pictures: starting from top left corner is shorshe Maccher jhol, towards the right is fired Ilish and its eggs, and bottom left is the raw Hilsa fish.