Hilsa with coconut milk

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals

Bengali Cooking

By Chitrita Banerji

Published 1997

  • About


To make Hilsa with coconut milk for four people, you need 500 g (1 lb) of hilsa peti. The daga can also be used, but since the fish will not be fried, it will be harder to pick the bones out of the soft flesh. You also require: 1 lemon; a whole coconut from which to extract milk, or you can substitute tinned coconut milk imported from Southeast Asian countries into the West, the quantity needed being 250 ml (8 fl oz); 7-8 medium onions; a 4 cm (1½ in) piece of ginger; 4-5 green chillies; 2 dry red chillies; 120 ml (4 fl oz) of ghee; garom mashla consisting of 3 sticks of cinnamon and 4 whole cardamoms; salt to taste. Wash the pieces of hilsa, but do not add salt or turmeric. Extract the milk from the coconut by cutting out pieces from the shell, grinding them in a blender, mixing it with some hot water and squeezing out and discarding the fibre. You will need 250 ml (8 fl oz) of thick milk for the fish. Peel 2 of the onions and the piece of ginger and grind them to a paste with the red chillies. You can use only one chilli if you want. Squeeze all the juice out of the lemon into a bowl. Heat the ghee in a karai and add the garom mashla. After a couple of minutes, add the chopped onions and the green chillies. Fry till the mixture becomes reddish brown and add the ground onion and ginger and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add a quarter of the coconut milk and fry a little longer. When the contents start sticking to the pot, pour in the rest of the coconut milk and add the pieces of hilsa. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for twelve to fifteen minutes. Uncover to see if the fish is done and the salt is right. You may need to add some more. Pour in the lemon juice, stir gently and remove from the stove. This dish tastes much better with fine atap rice than parboiled rice. Wedges of lemon may also be served so that each person can adjust the tartness to his own taste.