Ilish biryani recipe | bengali hilsa fish biryani | Kolkata style ilish mach er biryani

Ilish biryani, a bengali recipe of aromatic basmati rice and hilsa fish, cooked in a dum pukht style with lots of fragrance. This bengali ilish mach or hilsa fish biryani is a new addition to our kolkata style biryani. Whole garam masala flavored long grain basmati rice, ilish mach or hilsa fish and special biryanir masala are three main ingredients of this Kolkata style bengali biryani recipe. Though among bengali fish biryani recipes, apart from ilish biryani, prawn biryani is also popular among bengalis.

This bengali biryani is only popular among true ilish or hilsa lover Bengalis and not connected with our traditional Bengali culinary. It’s a perfect punch of Bengalis two favorite dishes, hilsa fish or ilish mach and kolkata style biryani. This fusion recipe comes from Kolkata’s famous bengali biryani(originally comes from Lucknow) and Bengalis eternal love ilish(hilsa fish). It’s the same as kolkata’s chicken or mutton biryani recipes but the added flavor and masalas are mild to keep the hilsa flavour intact.

ilish biryani is served

For making this recipe I generally marinate the raw fish pieces with masalas just like I marinate chicken or mutton for making the other bengali biryani recipes. And I didn’t fry the fish in oil at the beginning, as we(Bengalis) believe hilsa release its own oil(which has wonderful aroma) while frying and its awesome flavour and taste slightly go down.

As we Bengalis from Kolkata love ilish macher biryani, people from Bangladesh has a traditional bengali pulao recipe with this ilish or hilsa fish. Though the flavour of this bengali ilish pulao is quite similar to our ilish’er biryani, as most of the masalas and flavor are used to both recipes are almost same, but the procedure and appearance are totally different from each other. 

If you are curious about this kolkata’s popular ilish biryani, then you must read the recipe till the end to know each secret I shared over here. Try this bengali ilish(hilsa fish) macher biryani recipe at home and please let me know your valuable feedback by writing it down in the comment section below.

Even you can try other ilish or hilsa fish recipes from my website

Ilish biryani recipe

Prep time: 25 mins

Cook time: 35 mins(including dum)

Served in: 1 hr

Cuisine: Bengali

Course: Main course

Served for: 4 people

Author: Moumita Paul

Ingredients for ilish biryani recipe

  • 4 pieces of ilish mach or hilsa fish(around 350-400 gms)
  • 1 1/2 cup long-grain basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup of curd
  • 3/4 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp green chilli paste
  • 3/4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard oil
  • 5-6 tbsp refined oil(for making berista)
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp biryani masala(homemade)
  • berista or golden brown fried onion
  • whole garam masalas(green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves)
  • 3 tbsp of milk
  • few strands of saffron
  • 1 tsp of kewra water or 4-5 drops of kewra essence
  • 1/4 tsp sugar(optional)
  • salt (as required)
  • 8-9 cups of water 

How to make bengali ilish or hilsa fish biryani recipe

Making of basmati rice for the recipe

  • Take 1 1/2 cup of long-grain basmati rice, wash it for 4-5 time, soak for 30 mins in water.
  • After 30 mins, take a vessel with 8-9 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, 3-4 green cardamoms, 3-4 cloves, and 1-inch cinnamon stick.
  • Bring the water to boil.
  • Add 2 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp refined oil to the water.
  • Once the water starts boiling, strain the water from the soaked rice and add it in the boiling water.
  • Cook the rice up to 80 percent on the high flame.
  • Drain the starch from the rice immediately through a strainer.
  • cool down the rice by spreading it on the large plates and place it in the air.
  • Once the rice cools down, cover it and keep it aside for later.

Preparing the biryani masala for this recipe

  • Place a pan on low heat.
  • Add 1-inch cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 10 green cardamoms, 1/2 of mace, 1/4 of a nutmeg, 1 tbsp rose petals, 5-6 kabab chini, 5-6 white peppercorns.
  • Dry roast all the ingredients.
  • Grind them all to make a powdered out of it.
  • biryani masala is ready for this recipe, keep it aside.

Making of berista or golden fried onion

  • First, cut 3 medium-size onions into thin slices.
  • Heat a pan with a half cup of refined oil, add the onion slices and fry it till the onion gets lite golden brown colour.
  • when onion gets light golden brown colour, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel for soaking excess oil.

Marinating the hilsa fish for this recipe

  • Wash the fish pieces, keep it aside.
  • Take a mixing bowl with curd, ginger and garlic paste to it.
  • Add 1/2 tsp green chilli paste, 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to it.
  • Next, add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp mustard oil to it.
  • Mix it nicely with a whisker or with a spoon.
  • Then add 1 1/2 tsp biryani masala(made it earlier) and mix it again.
  • Crush half of the berista or golden fried onion with hand and add it in the mixture. Mix it nicely.
  • Lastly, add the fish pieces into the mixture and marinate it for 15-20 mins. 

Prepare the milk for colour and flavour

  • Take 3 tbsp of warm milk for soaking a few strands of saffron in it.
  • Add 1 tsp kewra water and few drops of saffron colour to the milk(optional) too, to get a bright nice colour.

How to cook marinated fish

  • Place a pan on the medium heat, let it gets heat up.
  • Add 1 tbsp of refined oil to it, make it hot.
  • separate the fish pieces from the marination, keep it aside for using i
  • First, separate the fish pieces from the marination and keep it aside.
  • Add only the marination to the oil(without fish) and cook it till it releases oil from its sides.
  • When the oil gets separated from the marination, add the fish pieces to the pan.
  • After 2 mins turn the fish and allow the other side gets done for 2 more mins.
  • After 4 mins, gently separate the cooked fish pieces from the gravy and keep it aside for later.

Assemble of rice for making this recipe

  • Take a thick bottom nonstick pan or any thick bottom wide mouth vessel for making it in dum.
  • Divide the gravy into two parts, one part must be in the pan and the other part should be taken out of the pan.
  • Prepare a thick layer of basmati rice on the one part of the gravy(which is kept in the pan).
  • Make sure the rice layer must cover the whole gravy and the gravy should not be visible through the layer of rice.
  • Then, add the cooked fish pieces on the rice and the pieces shouldn’t touch each other.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of biryani masala from the top of the fish.
  • Then spread the berista all over the fish and sprinkle a little salt from the top too.
  • Next, add the other part of gravy which was separated at the beginning and nicely spread it over the fish.
  • Then add rice from the top to make another thick layer.
  • After evenly spread the rice, add kewra and saffron flavoured milk from the top.
  • Spread berista once again and sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of biryani masala from the top. 
  • lastly, add 1 tbsp ghee from the top to enhance flavour of biryani.
  • Once assembling completes, cover the vessel with a tight lid to make sure air should not pass from anywhere of the vessel, while in dum.
  • Seal the air passing hole with a small atta dough or dough of wheat. Even you can seal the whole mouth of your vessel with the atta dough too.
  • Place the vessel on the lowest heat to keep it on dum.
  • Or even you may place the vessel on a tawa or skillet while keeping it for dum or slow cooking.
  • Keep it on dum for 8-10 mins to get it ready. Turn off the heat.
  • Don’t remove it’s lid immediately, wait for more 10-15 mins to get the exact taste of it.
  • After 15 mins, famous Kolkata style ilish biryani will be ready to serve. Serve it hot with salads.

Tips

  • For making dum, the thick-bottomed vessel is highly recommended. As regularly used vessel(with thin bottom) will be heated up quickly and that may cause of little burn of the bottom layer.
  • If you are making the dum in a thick bottom deep nonstick pan like me, then follow the same procedure what I’ve explained above.
  • But if you’re using a normal thick-bottomed pan(except nonstick) then, first grease the bottom of the pan with little ghee and then make a thin layer of rice and spread half of the gravy on it, then again a thin layer of rice. Then add the cooked fish pieces and the rest of the procedure is same as above.
  • I’ve directly placed the pan on the low heat while setting it for dum. Even you may first put a tawa or skillet on the flame. And then place the handi or vessel(using for dum) on it for avoiding the direct heat. It’s perfect for beginners.
  • After cover the vessel with lid, if you don’t seal the mouth of your vessel with atta or wheat dough, then you may keep a heavy object or a big bowl with full of water, on its top. Just to put the pressure from the top of the vessel, which will really help for a quick dum.

How to make kolkata style (bengali) ilish mach er biryani with step by step pictures

How to make basmati rice for this recipe:

  • First, take 1 1/2 cup of long-grain basmati rice, wash it thoroughly for 4-5 time and let it soak for 30 mins in water.
soaking the long grain basmati rice in water
  • After 30 mins, take a vessel, add 8-9 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, 3-4 green cardamoms, 3-4 cloves, and 1-inch cinnamon stick. Bring the water to boil.
water with bay leaves, green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick in the pan is about to boil
  • Then add 2 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp refined oil to the water.
adding salt and oil to the water
  • Once the water will start boiling, then strain the water from the soaked rice and add it in the boiling water.
adding the soaked rice into the boiling water and the rice is boiling too
  • Cook the rice up to 80 percent on the high flame. Check the grain of rice by pressing it with your fingertips and if rice should get flat, not mashed, that indicates the rice is done. As shown in the pics. 
checking the rice is done or not by pressing it with finger tip
  • Drain the starch from the rice immediately through a strainer or your own way of straining the rice. 
after straining the starch from rice through a strainer
  • Then spread the rice on the large plates and place it in the air to prevent it from overcooking due to its inner heat. Once the rice cools down, cover it and keep it aside for later.
spread the rice on a large plate to cool it down and make it ready for preparing hilsha fish biryani recipe

How to prepare the biryani masala:

  • Take a pan, place it on low heat, add 1-inch cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 10 green cardamoms, 1/2 of mace, 1/4 of a nutmeg, 1 tbsp rose petals, 5-6 kabab chini, 5-6 white peppercorns. Dry roast all the ingredients.
dry roasting cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamoms, mace, nutmeg, rose petals, kabab chini, white peppercorns in the pan and this this the kolkata special ilish biryani masala
  • Then grind all the dry roasted ingredients to make it a powdered form. Here I’ve used mortar and pestle, you may use grinder too. Keep the biryani masala aside.
ground all the dry roasted ingredients and made a powdered form out of it for making this bengali ilish biryani recipe

How to make berista or golden fried crisp onion:

  • First, take three medium-size onion cut it into thin slices.
  • Heat the pan with 1/2 cup of refined oil, add the onion slices and fry it till the onion starts getting lite golden brown colour.
frying the onion till it gets light golden brown in colour
  • Once onion gets light golden brown colour, remove it from the pan and immediately place it on a paper towel to soak excess oil.
after getting light golden brown colour removed fried onion on the paper towel for soaking excess oil and make it ready to use in this ilish biryani recipe
  • Berista or golden fried crisp onion is ready for use in this recipe.

How to marinate the fish for this recipe:

  • First, wash the fish pieces with water not under the running water as we Bengalis believe, hilsa or ilish lose its taste and smell for too much wash in water. Keep the fish aside.
  • Then take a mixing bowl, add 3/4 cup of curd and total 1 1/2 tsp ginger and garlic paste to it. As shown in the pic.
curd and ginger-garlic paste in the mixing bowl
  • Next add 1/2 tsp green chilli paste, 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to it as shown in the pic.
green chilli paste and kashmiri chilli powder were added and adding turmeric powder to the mixing bowl
  • Then add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp mustard oil to it. As shown in the pic.
  • Now mix it properly with a whisker or even with a spoon. Then add 1 1/2 tsp biryani masala(made it earlier) to the mix. Again mix it thoroughly.
after mixing all the ingredients, biryani masala was added to the mixture and mixing it once again
  • Then add half of the barista or golden fried crisp onion, crushing by hand, as shown in the pic. Now again mix it properly.
after crushing the golden fried crispy onion by hands, mixed it properly in the mixture of the bowl
  • lastly, add the fish pieces to the mixture for marinating it for 15-20 mins. 
fish pieces were added to the mixture for marination, after marination it will be ready for making ilish macher biryani

How to prepare the milk with flavor and color:

  • In the meantime, take 3 tbsp of warm milk, soak a few strands of saffron in it.
soaked few strands of saffron in the warm milk
  • Once the milk cools down, add 1 tsp kewra water to it, and I added few drops of saffron colour to the milk(optional) too, to get a bright yellow coloured milk.
after adding the kewra water to the saffron soaked milk then saffron colour was added to get bright coloured milk for making this kolkata ilish biryani recipe

How to cook the marinated fish:

  • Place a pan on the medium heat, 1 tbsp of refined oil to it, make it hot.
  • First, separate the fish pieces from the marination and keep it aside for using it later.
separating the marinated fish from the marination
  • Then add the marination to oil in the pan and cook it till it releases oil from its sides.
the marination is added to the oil in the pan
  • When the oil gets separated from the marination, add the fish pieces to the pan.
fish pieces are added after the oil gets separated from the marination
  • After 2 mins turn the fish and allow the other side gets done for 2 more mins.
when one side of the fish get cooked, turn the fish and allow the other side gets done
  • After 4 mins, gently separate the cooked fish pieces from the gravy and keep it aside for later.
separating the cooked fish pieces from the gravy and the fish is ready to prepare recipe of ilish biryani

How to assemble this kolkata style ilish mach er biryani

  • For making dum, here I’ve used a thick bottom nonstick pan, even you may use any thick bottom wide mouth vessel too. (Rest of the procedure of making dum in a regular vessel, were explained in the tips section)
  • First, divide the gravy into two parts, one part must be taken into the pan and take out the other part from the pan and keep it aside for later use.
separating the half of the gravy from the pan and kept the rest of the gravy in the pan for making this hilsa biryani recipe
  • Now, make a thick layer of basmati rice on the gravy which lies on the bottom of the pan and completely covers the gravy with the rice that gravy should not be visible in any way. As shown in the pic.
adding rice to the pan to make a thick layer of basmati rice on the gravy to make this ilish macher biryani recipe
  • Next, add the cooked fish pieces on the rice and pieces shouldn’t touch each other as shown in the pic.
added the cooked fish pieces on the first layer of rice
  • Then sprinkle 1/4 tsp of biryani masala from the top as shown in the pic.
sprinkle this quantity of biryani masala from the top
  • Later, spread the berista all over the fish and sprinkle a little salt from the top.
first spreading the berista or golden fried crisp onion and then sprinkle salt all over the fish
  • Now add the other part of gravy which was separated at the beginning and nicely spread it over the fish.
adding the other part of the gravy to spread it all over the fish pieces
  • Then add rice from the top to make another thick layer. And after that evenly spread rice layer, add that kewra and saffron flavoured milk from the top. As shown in the pic.
after adding rice to make another thick layer on fish pieces, kewra flavoured saffron soaked milk was evenly spread on the rice
  • Now spread berista once again and sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of biryani masala from the top. 
sprinkling a pinch of salt and a pinch of biryani masala from the top of the layer of this ilish biryani
  • Lastly, add 1 tbsp ghee from the top to enhance flavour of biryani.
adding ghee from the top after completing the assembling of kolkata ilish biryani
  • Now the assembling is completed, cover the vessel with a tight lid. And make sure air should not pass from anywhere of the vessel(used for dum or slow cooking). Even you may seal all the path, from where the air can come out while in dum. 
  • As you can see I’ve sealed the air passing hole of my vessel with a small atta dough or dough of wheat. Even you can seal the whole mouth of your vessel with the atta dough too.
sealed the air passing hole of my vessel with a small atta dough or dough of wheat and this ilish biryani is ready for dum or slow cooking
  • Now place the vessel on the lowest heat, for avoiding direct heat, even you may first place a tawa or skillet on the stove and then place the vessel on the tawa for dum or slow cooking and wait for 8-10 mins to get it ready. Turn off the heat.
  • After turn off the heat, don’t remove it’s lid immediately, at least wait for more 10-15 mins to get the exact taste of it.
  • After that 15 mins, famous Kolkata ilish biryani will be ready to serve. Serve it hot with salads.
famous kolkata ilish biryani is ready to serve
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