Bengali Sorshe ilish or shorshe ilish recipe

Sorshe ilish is a traditional recipe of our Bengali cuisine where ilish mach or hilsa fish is cooked with a shorshe bata or mustard paste gravy. Shorshe ilish or sorshe ilish is an authentic Bengali hilsa fish curry which is generally relished by Bengalis from India and Bangladesh. Sorshe and ilish both are Bengali terms, mean mustard, and Hilsa fish respectively. That means sorse or mustard paste is an important ingredient in this recipe other than ilish mach or hilsa fish. Today we will learn how to make Bengali sorshe ilish or shorshe ilish recipe with step by step pictures.

This Bengali sorshe ilish or shorshe ilish is actually my mom’s recipe and later passed on to me. After getting married when I moved to Bangalore, we true hilsha lovers started searching for hilsha every weekend. As then Bangalore was new to us so after searching a high and low when we were able to find it out,  I used to prepare my mom’s shorse ilish recipe.

Have you ever noticed sorse bata or mustard paste and mustard oil both are common ingredients in making of almost all hilsa recipes or Ilish macher recipes? Yes, preparation of any Bengali food is especially the authentic Bengali food is incomplete without Mustard oil. But, Mustard paste….nope, except hilsha or Ilish macher recipe, very few Bengali fish recipes contains mustard paste. Honestly, I don’t even have any clear idea about the usage of mustard paste or sorse bata in most Ilish recipes, though taste-wise hilsha or ilish mach perfectly goes with mustard paste. That might be a good reason for using mustard, what do you think?

This recipe contains, hilsa fish or Ilish mach, nigella seeds or kalonji, mustard paste or sorse bata, turmeric powder, and green chilies. Some of us generally add curd or Tok doi but my mom prefers to use tomato instead of curd and she adds a little chili powder to it as per my dad’s choice. And Believe me, the taste and the texture would be awesome.

ingredients of sorshe ilish

Even I can remember those childhood days when dad used to take ilish mach from the nearby market and my mom cooked it as per our choice. So first, the deep fried hilsa was served with its aromatic oil and lastly, we enjoy our meal with this sorshe ilish or shorshe ilish. Actually, my dad doesn’t like the experiments on hilsha, so he loves most, this particular recipe.

 When this bengali shorshe ilish or hilsa in a mustard paste gravy will be served with a plate of piping hot steam rice and if you are a bengali or a true hilsa lover, I don’t think you will be able to keep yourself away from it. How many of you are like me, who prefer to choose hilsha more than chicken or mutton? I believe the number must be huge, especially among Bengalis.

Two days back our Bengali festival “Ranna puja” was celebrated. Though like every year this year too I was not able to taste my mom’s all recipes on that particular occasion. So this year I prepared this sorshe ilish or shorshe Ilish to compensate myself with one of mom’s best recipes.

 shorshe ilish is served in a bowl

What is Ranna puja? According to Bengali rituals, it’s worshipping of the goddess of snakes with rice, dal, fried veggies, vegetable curries, different preparations of hilsha or ilish mach, chutney and homemade sweets. But these foods have to carefully preserve without using the refrigerator. And the next day morning, first, those food have to offer to the goddess of snakes and then that food will be served at lunch and dinner. Nobody can cook food on that day according to the ritual. Don’t worry about preserving the food, every household( performing the ritual since ages) takes care a lot by using the old traditional method of preserving food. In my childhood, so many relatives and people from our neighborhood were invited to our house for lunch on that day.

Did you know hilsha or ilish mach is also named pulasa fish in Andhra Pradesh, India? Recently I’ve heard it from one of my friends from Andhra Pradesh. So I can describe this ilish macher recipe as pulasa fish in a mustard paste gravy too for the convenience of all of my friends from Andhra Pradesh. And you know even people from Kerala also love ilish, so not only Bengalis, Ilish mach or hilsa fish has a huge admirer.

You may check my Doi ilish or Doi Shorshe ilish recipeIlish macher paturi or Hilsha fish in a banana leaf recipe , Bhapa Ilish or steamed hilsa recipe.

Please let me know how my mom’s special traditional Bengali sorshe ilish or shorshe ilish creates its magic in your household by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

 Bengali Shorshe ilish recipe

Ingredients for bengali shorshe ilish

  • 6 pieces Hilsa fish or Ilish
  • 1/2 tsp Kalo jeera or kalonji or nigella seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • salt(as required)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 20-25 mins

Served in: 25-30 mins

Course: Main course

Cuisine: Bengali

Served for: 5-6 people

Author: Moumita Paul

How to make Bengali shorshe ilish recipe with step by step pictures


  • First, wash all pieces of hilsha fish with water and drain the water. Then sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and turmeric powder over it. Mix it well as both sides of each piece get a nice coat. Keep it aside.
  • Now take a small strainer, then put the mustard seeds in it and wash for 2-3 times. It’s a simple trick to wash mustard seeds and poppy seeds without wasting a single seed and soak it in water for 15 mins.
  • After 15 mins, drain the water through the same sieve(used before) and place the mustard seeds in a small blender jar with 1/4 tsp of salt, 1 medium tomato, and 3 green chilies.

ilish mach with with mustard paste, green chillies, mustard oil and spices

  • Make a fine paste by using a little water to it.
  • Take a pan, place it on medium heat, add 3 tbsp of mustard oil to it.
  • Then add 1/2 tsp kalojeera or kalonji or onion seeds to it. Stir it well.

kalojeera or kalonji or onion seeds in mustard oil

  • Add the mustard-tomato-green chili paste to the pan. Saute it for 1 min.

mustard paste or sose bata in the pan

  • Next, add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp chili powder to it. Mix it well.

adding turmeric and chilli powder to the pan to prepare the mustard paste gravy for shorshe ilish recipe

  • When the smell of raw masalas goes off and the masalas will leave oil from its side then add water to it. Bring it to boil.

adding water to the pan to make the mustard paste gravy for this recipe

  • Once it starts boiling add salt(as required) and add the Hilsha pieces to it.

adding hilsha fish into the boiling mustard paste gravy

  • Then slit 3-4 green chilies and directly add to the pan.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 5-6 mins.
  • Then remove the lid and carefully turn over the fish.
  • Cover it again and let it cook for 5-6 mins.
  • When you get the right consistency of the gravy then turn off the gas.

 sorshe ilish or sorshe bata diye ilish mach is ready

  • Serve this sorshe ilish with piping hot steamed rice.


  • Soaking of mustard seeds will make it soft and easily turn it to be a smooth paste.
  • Adding salt is important while grinding the mustard seeds. As salt will reduce the chances of the bitterness of the mustard paste or sorse bata.
  • Already we have used salt to coat the fish and then later we used salt while grinding the mustard seeds. So be careful while adding more salt to it. Add the salt as per your taste and the thickness of the gravy.
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