Sorshe Ilish Macher Jhal | Bengali Hilsa in Mustard Curry Recipe

Gluten Free

Sorshe Ilish Macher Jhal is a classic Bengali dish where Ilish or Hilsa Herring is cooked in a gravy of Mustard Seeds paste. This dish is very popular among the natives of Bangladesh and the eastern states of India, such as West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam.

Ilish Maach or Hilsa is one of the most sought after fishes as its availability is limited to a particular time of the year. It is believed that the season’s best catch of Ilish is made during the monsoon months of July to September. It is during this time when Ilish or Hilsa, otherwise a marine fish, swims upwards into the river to spawn.

Bangladesh is the largest producer of Ilish Maach, closely followed by the eastern states of India. As a result, Ilish is entwined with the Bengali culture in many ways. For instance, during any auspicious occasion, offering a pair of Illish to the diety is considered pious. During weddings, Ilish is often sent by the grooms family to the bride as a gift.

SHorshe Illish Macher Jhal Recipe

Every Bengali’s Sin : Ilish Maach & Sorshe Ilish Macher Jhal

This Sorshe Ilish recipe is the easiest and the simplest way to relish season’s fresh Hilsa. This is my personal view, a must-try ilish macher recipe for all the illish maach lovers.

I am very sure that 9 out of 10 Bengalis simply ADORE Ilish maach or Hilsa fish. After all, there’s nothing that one can hate about Illish or Hilsa fish.

Ilish or Hilsa (or Pulasa) is an oily fish, hence, extremely rich in Omega3 fatty acids. It is believed to help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and regulate blood insulin levels.

The only challenge in eating Hilsa fish lies in the numerous tiny bones which makes eating this fish quite a task. It takes years of practice to master the skill of separating the tiny bones off the flesh of Ilish maach perfectly. After all, you don’t want to waste any morsel of this delicious (and exorbitantly priced) fish!


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Whenever I buy Ilish maach, I am at a loss because I am always brimming with ideas about what to make out of those. I have already share Ilish Mach Bhaja recipe and Bhapa Ilish recipe, here on my blog.

Sorshe Ilish is probably the most popular dish made with Hilsa Herring and every family has its own variation to this dish.

This Ilish Macher shorshe jhol recipe is again a big-time hit in my kitchen. One, because it is super simple and can be easily wrapped up within 10 minutes flat.

Second, it basically needs minimum ingredients to bring together a luxurious meal as per a Bengali’s definition.

Give a Bangali bhodrolok some bhaat and illish maach, he would happily polish off his plate in no time.

And, if you are an Illish Maach lover or you know someone who is, then you should definitely get this Sorshe Illish recipe.

Substitutes for Ilish Maach or Hilsa Herring

I understand that Hilsa or Ilish is not as readily available as it is in the South East Asian countries. So, you can use American Shad fish instead for this Sorshe Ilish recipe.

Otherwise, you can also use Salmon instead of Hilsa for this recipe.

How to buy Ilish Maach or Hilsa Herring?

Buying an Ilish Maach is nothing less than a job of a pro! One has to know the tricks in order to preserve its rich and oily taste. here are some of the pointers:

  • Always ask the fishmonger to wash the fish properly before slicing. Once it has been sliced, just ask him to carefully remove the guts before making pieces of the fish. Do not wash the cut pieces or you will lose the fish oil which makes for the delicious taste of this fish
  • Make sure to pack the fish roe and the fish oil as well. You definitely do not want to miss out on something so delicious like these
  • If you are planning to cook it fresh, then simply rub some salt and turmeric powder and proceed with your recipe.
  • In case you wish to freeze it for later, rub some salt and turmeric powder and store them in air-tight containers
  • Fry the fish fat or oil in the same mustard oil and season it with some salt. Enjoy this oil with rice. It’s a rare delicacy

Looking for more Indian Fish Recipes? Check these out.

Have you tried this recipe? I would love to hear about it.
Tag me on Instagram @speakingaloud_hashdiaries or Facebook @hashdiaries and I will share it further.

Sorshe Illish Macher Jhal | Bengali Hilsa in Mustard Curry Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
17 mins

Sorshe Ilish Macher Jhal is a classic Bengali dish where Ilish or Hilsa Herring is cooked in a gravy of Mustard Seeds paste. This Sorshe Ilish recipe is the easiest and the simplest way to relish season's fresh Hilsa. This is my personal view, a must-try ilish macher recipe for all the illish maach lovers.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Bengali
Keyword: Bengali Fish Recipes, Illish Maach Recipes
Servings: 2 People
Calories: 628 kcal
  • 4 Illish Maach
  • 4 tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 tbsp Poppy Seed paste
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 Green Chilies Slit in halves
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the slit green chilies.

  2. Slightly sear the fish pieces for a minute on each sides. Do not allow them to go brown.

  3. Meanwhile soak rest of the ingredients in 1/2 cup water and pour it over the fish pieces. Allow it to simmer for 8-10 minutes to cook the fish properly.

  4. Once done, serve it with a drizzle of mustard oil and a dash of lemon juice.

Recipe Notes

While using the Green Chilies, use your discretion as per your take on the heat.

Once you put the dish to simmer, note that there is ample amount of water in the pan. As poppy paste has a tendency to stick at the bottom of the dish and burn. Ample amount of water would avoid that.

In case you do not have Mustard Powder with you, you can grind 1/2 tsp of Mustard Seeds with the Poppy Seeds to make a smooth paste for this recipe. 


Replacing Hilsa/Ilish with 4 serving Kippered Boneless Herring Fillets Seafood Snacks Brunswick Brunswick 320 Calories per serving for Calorie calculation here.

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One response to “Sorshe Ilish Macher Jhal | Bengali Hilsa in Mustard Curry Recipe”

  1. […] অতি পরিচিত ইলিশ মাছের রেসিপি ( Ilish Macher Recipe in Bengali )। বাঙ্গালী আর ইলিশ মাছ একে অপরের […]

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Indian Food Blogger Priyanka Bhattacharya

Hi! I’m Priyanka!

A passionate home cook and food lover who loves nothing more than sharing my favourite recipes with the world.


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