bhapa ilish recipe | steamed hilsa recipe | bengali style bhapa ilish

Bhapa ilish recipe – it’s actually making of authentic bengali style steamed hilsa recipe with step by step pictures. This mouthwatering Bhapa ilish or ilish bhapa is mainly made with ilish mach or hilsa fish, bengali mustard sauce, or shorshe bata, grated coconut, or narkel and doi. I often prepare this bhapa ilish in my kitchen as I’m a huge fan of it.

A combination of piping hot steamed rice with any preparation of Hillsa fish still reminds me of the childhood days of mine. Hilsa fish is always the superstar in every Bengali kitchen for its mouthwatering taste, its wonderful aromas, and its tender meat. Bhapa Ilish or steamed hilsha is a traditional dish of Bengalis common in West Bengal and Bangladesh both.

In my childhood days, when my mom used to cook Hilsa” in our kitchen, the smell would enhance our appetite. And our all attention would remain at lunchtime when the “Hilsha” was served with hot steamed rice. And I can guess all of my Bengali friends, can connect themselves with me and have reached their childhood days.

 I’m a true Hilsa lover and not part of that Ghoti(origin is Westbengal) and Bangal(origin is Bangladesh) war. Though I’m a Ghoti by birth and shifted to be a Bangal by marriage. My husband and I both are fond of every preparation of Hilsa fish. Today I’m going to share one of our favorite hilsha fish recipes” Bengali Bhapa Ilish recipe or steamed Hilsa recipe”. Though I made this Bhapa Ilish or steamed hilsha with coconut, if you don’t consume coconut, prepare this recipe without coconut.  This is a very simple and easy recipe of hilsha with common ingredients. Hope you all will enjoy this steamed hilsha recipe or bengali style bhapa ilish recipe.

Also, you can try another traditional Bengali recipe with prawns, Daab chingri or prawns cooked in tender coconut recipe.

If you are searching for more authentic ilish recipes, then you may check the recipes below

Please let me know, how this bengali style Bhapa ilish recipe or steamed Hilsha recipe worked in your kitchen by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

 bhapa ilish recipe | how to make bengali style steamed hilsa recipe 

Ingredients of bhapa ilish

  • 4-6 pieces(around 500 gms) Hilsa fish or Ilish Mach
  • 1tbsp Mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tbsp Poppy seeds
  • 3tbsp Curd
  • 3tbsp Grated coconut
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Mustard oil
  • 4-5 green chilies(as per your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt as required
  • 3-4 green chilies (slit chilies)

Course: Lunch

Cuisine: Bengali

Prep time:20 mins(including 10 mins marination)

Cook time:20 mins

Served in: 40 mins

Author: Moumita Paul

How to make bengali style bhapa ilish recipe 


  •  First, wash the fish pieces with water and drain the water. Then sprinkle salt and turmeric powder over it. And mix it well as both sides of each piece get a nice coat. Keep it aside.

marinate with salt and turmeric for bhapa ilish

  • Take mustard seeds, poppy seeds, grated coconut, green chilies, curd, and little water in your small blender or grinder jar. Make a smooth paste without adding much water. In addition, mix some salt into the paste according to your taste.

ingredients to paste for bhapa ilish

  •  Then put this paste over the fish and at the same time add the mustard oil on the top. Mix it well and keep it aside for 10 mins marination.

Bhapa ilish for marination

  • In the meantime, take a tiffin box(stainless steel) and place your marinated fish into it. After placing the fish in the tiffin box sprinkle 1/2 tsp mustard oil from the top and slit green chilies. Though I have used raw mustard oil and green chilies for its special aroma which goes awesome with Bhapa Ilish or bengali style bhapa ilish. Finally, tightly close your tiffin box lid.

 bhapa Ilish for steaming

  •  Firstly, take a wide mouth vessel, pour some water into it and then place the tiffin box into the water. The first thing to remember, the only half portion of the tiffin box should immerse into the water. (If by chance the water level exceeds more than that outside water might get into the tiffin box. And that can ruin the exact taste of your Steamed Hilsa or bengali style bhapa ilish. Then cover the vessel with a tight lid.

ready to steam for bhapa ilish

  • After that, put that vessel on a low flame. And let it cook for 20 mins. Occasionally, you should check the water level in the vessel. Meanwhile, If you see much water evaporated from the vessel, add some hot water to maintain the water level. That will help you to avoid the burning while cooking this bengali style bhapa ilish or steamed hilsha(inside the tiffin box).
  • Now waiting time is over. Take the tiffin box out of the vessel and open its lid. Trust me that aroma of Bhapa Ilish or steamed hilsha will enhance your appetite. Serve it hot with piping hot steamed rice and enjoy your meal.


  • Always add hot water while going to steam it, as water at normal temperature will slow down the cooking process. And it will take more time to cook.
  • Though I have followed the traditional way of steaming my Hilsa fish, but,  you can use the pressure cooking method or the microwave oven method too.
  • For ” Bhapa Ilish in pressure cooker” method immerse your tiffin box( more than half of its height) into the hot water from the beginning. And the most important thing is, keep the pressure cooker on a low flame. As per my knowledge, one whistle is enough for the pressure cooking method. As Hilsa is a very soft fish don’t keep it on the flame after one whistle. I’ll come back soon with Bhapa Ilish recipe or ilish bhapa recipe in Microwave method.
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