Bhapa Ilish And Bhapa Rohu Fish: Make Authentic Bengali Recipes At Home

Bengalis are known for their love for fish, and bhapa ilish is not just a Bengali delicacy but an emotion. With its perfect taste and gorgeous looks, learn how to prepare bhapa ilish at home Bengali style with this authentic recipe.

Published On May 31, 2024 | Updated On Jun 26, 2024


Ilish or hilsa fish is a Bengali’s most prized possession, and so is their recipe for bhapa ilish. An authentic Bengali delicacy that is a must in every Bengali household during the monsoons, bhapa ilish Bengali style recipe is prepared from hilsa fish which is steamed in a potent mustard, yoghurt and coconut paste. A recipe that requires very few and basic ingredients, and hardly any special technique, bhapa ilish recipe despite sounding challenging is actually fairly simple to prepare at home. A recipe that is absolutely devoured by everyone, and an icon in the Bengali cuisine, learn how to prepare Bengali ilish fish at home with this easy and basic bhapa ilish recipe.


Fish recipes are central to Bengali cuisine. Bhapa literally translates to ‘steamed’, and thus bhapa fish refers to recipes of steamed fish. Steaming hot fish recipes, which are essentially prepared with mustard and a variety of spices, bhapa fish recipes can be prepared from most types of fishes, ranging from hilsa fish to rohu, prawns or bhetki.


Another bhapa fish recipe, bhapa rohu fish is a Bengali delicacy you will surely love if you are fan of bhapa ilish. An appetising and healthy fish recipe packed with flavours, bhapa rohu fish recipe is basically rohu fish cooked in posto shorshe, that is a paste prepared from poppy seeds and mustard along with green chillies. A smoky gravy, much similar to bhapa hilsa fish recipe, the only difference is substituting the coconut paste in the bhapa ilish with a paste prepared from poppy seeds in bhapa rohu recipe.

Check out to prepare Bengali ilish fish at home with a few simple steps in this bhapa ilish Bengali recipe 


You will require the following ingredients to prepare Bengali style hilsa fish at home: 

  1. 250 grams of hilsa fish, approximately 4 pieces
  2. 25 grams beaten yoghurt
  3. 40 grams of mustard seeds, both brown and yellow soaked for 2 hours
  4. 40 grams peeled and grated coconut
  5. 8 green chillies
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. 20 grams mustard oil
  8. 22 grams salt
  9. ¼ tsp sugar


Follow the given steps to prepare bhapa Bengali ilish fish:

  1. To prepare bhapa ilish, first clean the hilsa fish properly.
  2. Strain the water from the mustard seeds that you had soaked for 2 hours, and grind it into a smooth paste using salt and 4 green chillies. 
  3. Mix well in a container the grated coconut, beaten yoghurt, sugar, turmeric and mustard oil.
  4. Coat the hilsa fish well with the bhapa ilish mixture.
  5. Arrange the coated hilsa fishes in a tiffin box, and place slit green chillies on the top.
  6. Fasten the lid of the tiffin box, and set the fish aside to marinate for about 15 minutes.
  7. Once the marination time is over, heat up a pan and place a stand at the bottom of the pan. Pour hot water, making sure that the level of water doesn't reach half the height of the tiffin box.
  8. Once the water in the pan comes to a boil, place the tiffin box on the stand.
  9. Cover the pan and steam for 15 minutes on medium flame.
  10. Thereafter, remove the tiffin box from the pan and let it rest for about 5 minutes, before serving.

Pro tip: Hilsa fish is often not readily available, as it is facing extinction in recent times. In that case you can substitute the hilsa fish with herring. 

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