bhapa ilish recipe | how to make steamed hilsa fish recipe | bengali style ilish machher shorshe bhapa

Bhapa ilish recipe(ভাপা ইলিশ রেসিপি)| Steamed hilsa fish recipe | Bengali style ilish machher shorshe bhapa recipe with step-by-step pictures. What is bhapa ilish? Bhapa ilish means ilish macher shorshe bhapa (vapa) an authentic bengali recipe of hilsa fish prepared in steamed Bengali mustard sauce. For making bhapa (vapa) ilish, Ilish machh or hilsa fish is compiled with bengali mustard sauce(shorshe bata), posto bata, grated coconut(narkel kora), curd/yogurt/tok doi, and mustard oil (kacha shorsher tel) and steamed up with a few green chillies. During monsoon time(season of ilish machh), this mouthwatering dish is often prepared in my kitchen to have it with plain white steamed rice. I’m a huge fan of it.

A combination of piping hot steamed rice with any preparation of Hillsa fish(গরম ভাতের সাথে ইলিশ মাছ ) still reminds me of my 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. This Shorshe posto bata diye Bhapa Ilish maach (steamed hilsha in poppy and mustard seeds paste) 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 but this fish bhapa is one of our favorite hilsa recipes. Today I’m going to share of “ Bhapa Ilish or steamed Hilsa recipe” how prepared in a Bengali household. I made this ilish recipe with grated coconut, if you don’t consume coconut, prepare this ilish bhapa without coconut. This is a very easy recipe of hilsha with very simple 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 ilish recipe shorshe ilish bhapa or steamed mustard hilsha bengali recipe ilish fish bengali style ilish machher Bhapa or steamed Hilsha in mustard sauce worked in your kitchen by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

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

Ingredients of bhapa (vapa) ilish

  • 4-6 pieces(around 500 g) Hilsa fish or Ilish Machh
  • 1 tbsp Black Mustard seeds(kalo shorshe)
  • 3/4 tbsp Poppy seeds(posto)
  • 3 tbsp Tok doi/Curd/yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp Grated coconut(Narkel kora)
  • 1+1/2 tbsp Mustard oil(Shorsher tel)
  • 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 bhapa ilish ( ilish machher Bengali style shorshe bhapa recipe) with step-by-step pictures


  •  First, wash the hilsa fish/ilish machh(ইলিশ মাছ) 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 ilish machh or hilsa fish with salt and turmeric

  • Take black mustard seeds(সর্ষে ), poppy seeds(পোস্ত), grated coconut(নারকেল কোৱা), green chilies(কাঁচা লঙ্কা ), curd/yoghurt(টক দই ), and little water in your small blender or grinder jar.
  • Make a smooth paste of these masalas without adding much water. In addition, mix some salt into the paste according to your taste.

Bhapa ilisher spice ingredients

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

ilish machh is marinate with masala paste

  • 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.
  • Finally, tightly close your tiffin box lid.
  • Here I have used raw mustard oil and green chilies for its special aroma which goes awesome with this bengali style bhapa ilish.

marinate fish is in tiffin box ready to steam

  • 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 is that only half a portion of the tiffin box should immerse in the water.
  • If by chance the water level exceeds, water might get into the tiffin box. And that can ruin the exact taste of this dish.
  • Then cover the vessel with a tight lid.

bhapa ilish is ready by steaming

  • 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 water to maintain the water level. That will help you to avoid burning while cooking this bengali style bhapa ilish or steamed hilsha(inside the tiffin box).
  • After 20 mins waiting time. Carefully take the tiffin box(as it is too hot) out of the vessel and open its lid.
  • Trust me that aroma of this Shorshe Bhapa Ilish will enhance your appetite. Serve it hot with piping hot steamed rice(গরম ভাতে ভাপা ইলিশ) and enjoy your meal.

Tips for perfect ilish bhapa

  • Here I used only black mustard seeds but you can use black and yelllow mustard seeds both or only yellow mustard seeds too.
  • 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 ilish machh, however, you can use the pressure cooking method or the microwave oven method too. I’ll come back soon with Bhapa Ilish recipe or Shorshe ilish bhapa recipe in the Microwave method.
  • 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, to 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.
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