If its Ilish Maachh, you are bound to over eat. Yes, that's exactly the case with me. I have had my share of breakfast, lunch and dinner, all in the form of my Ilish Maachh platter,some time back. So I knew I had to pen this down, even though I am reeling in and out of Ilish Maachh induced Food Coma.

No matter what time of the year it is, one of the easiest the ways to a true Bong's heart, is through a plate of hot steamed rice and Shorshe Bata Ilish. The decadent mustard sauce, in which the Ilish is slowly cooked has everyone salivating,at all times.

I wanted to introduce my daughter to this quintessential Bengali taste. As long as I tackled the bones,and kept a tab on my favorite level of heat, I was confident she would love it as much her parents did. And it was a success. The one and half year old, picked on the white fish slowly at first,and then tucked away,forgetting all about the steamed rice on her tray. Mommy surely did the Happy Dance all round the kitchen and living room.

My Mom and Grandmom had been puritans when it came to cooking fish. Ff the Fish was not as Fresh,  as they liked, they would lightly Fry it, or saute it, before cooking it in the Curry. SNatlano, as its called in Bengali.Since I was introducing the toddler to Ilish Maachh(which was from the frozen Aisle in the Bangladeshi store), I decided to Flash Fry the fish pieces,before coooking them in the rich mustard gravy. However,when I had first posted pictures of this batch of Shorshe Bata Ilish, I received the flak, from many. How could I fry my Ilish Maach, in a predominantly Bhapa Preparation. And I went on to explain,Mommy's idea of SNatlano to them. So I decided to not call my dish, Bhapa Ilish, but simply call it Shorshe Bata Ilish: Hilsa in Mustard Sauce


Hilsa/Ilish Maach : 1 Medium sized Fish, cut into Bengali style steaks. Scales Removed
Turmeric Powder: 2 tsp plus 1 tsp
Salt: To taste
Mustard Oil: 4 tbsp
Mustard Paste: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder: 1 tsp(according to heat preferences)
Shredded Coconut: 1 tbsp
Yogurt: 2 tbsp

 Pat the fish prices dry with a clean paper towel and smear them with salt and turmeric powder. Leave them aside for around ten minutes.

In a non stick pan, add the mustard oil and heat it. When the oil is hot enough, gently place in the fish and lightly saute them or flash fry them. You could skip this step, if the fish you are using is fresh. We don't have that luxury.

Remove from heat and keep aside.

Meanwhile make a paste of turmeric powder, mustard oil, mustard paste, salt, sugar, shredded coconut ,red chili powder and yogurt.

Add a dash of water and dunk the sautéed Fish pieces in it. Add Green Chilies slit longitudinally.

You could steam this in a steel tiffin box in a Pressure Cooker or you could bake it in a Pre heated oven at 350F for around 15 to 20 minutes,depending on how thickly the fish steaks are cut.

Serve hot with steamed Basmati Rice.

Bon Appetit !!!



Its Makar Shankranti today. The Harvest festival which is celebrated with much fanfare in almost every Bengali household. While not all families have an agrarian background, they join in the celebrations with a special array of sweets,called Pithe. If there was ever a Queen of Pithes, it surely is Pati Shapta.  Pati Shapta are Crepes filled with caramelised coconut, all flavored with a generous helping of green cardamom.

While I have a self confessed sweet tooth, I had never ventured into the field of Pithe Making. Shankrantis during our growing up years, were all about feasting on a wide variety of Pithe at home. Some were made at home, some were Grandma's specialties and some came in from the neighbors. You could literally feast on the delicacies all day and still have more. Ever since I left Kolkata, I missed the bounty during this time of the year. While in Delhi, I would take a auto rickshaw up to C R Park( The Bong Hub), and pack up some Pithe and Patishapta from Annapurna Sweets,along with some Nolen Gurer Shondesh.

But all these years in the Midwest only meant,that if you wanted to eat some Bengali delicacies, you had to make it yourself. there was no Mom to whip it up, or no Annapurna Sweets to pick it up from. Every year I wake up to a million gazillion posts on Social media on all that's been made. And I salivate a bit more at this end. I binge eat on junk food all day, to try and forget the tastes, I am missing so far.

I had thought this year would be no different. But it surely turned out to be. All the Pithe Posts on social media drove me so crazy,that I decided to venture out of my comfort zone. I decided to make Pati Shapta. All from scratch. I have heard in Kolkata, you get packaged and portioned Patishapta Mixes available at many departmental stores.  I had no such luck. A quick browsing through my pantry revealed that I had no Khoa(dry kheer), Nolen Gur(Date Palm Jaggery) and Rice Flour. So I had to make do without those, without compromising on the taste. So voila, I cam up with some hacks. The Puritans might frown at it,but it satisfied my Bong soul on Shankranti and I am happy with it.

So here's what I came up with. I gave the rice flour a miss, as I found the idea of grinding rice in a coffee grinder too painstaking. I stuck to All Purpose Flour and Semolina.

Rather than normal shredded frozen coconut, I decided to use Sweetened Coconut Flakes,from the baking Aisle.

Now for the biggest hack. My Husband could not guess that the Patishapta I had made, was made without Gur. I Used Dulce de Leche(caramelised  condensed milk) to make the coconut filling along with a heady dose of green cardamom. yes you heard it right. It worked wonders, I must tell you. And there wa sno compromise on the taste. The dulce de Leche along with crushed green cardamom was cooked slowly with the coconut flakes. Slow cooking sealed the deal in making it super decadent.

The best part was when my almost two year old daughter, smiled her way through her very first Patishapta.It turned out to be Shubho Shankranti after all.


Makes 8


All Purpose Flour : 1 cup
Sugar: 5 tbsp
Semolina: 1/3 cup
Whole Milk:  1 cup or more
Green Cardamom Powder : 2 tsp

Sweetened Coconut Flakes: 2 cups (As I had run out of Frozen Grated coconut)
Dulce de Leche: 3/4  tin
Green cardamom Powder : 2-3 tsp
Milk: 1/3 cup

Oil /Ghee :


The Filling : 
In a large pan, on low heat. add some ghee, and add the coconut flakes, and green cardamom and the milk. Once the coconut flakes are re hydrated a bit, add in the Dulce de Leche. With  a wooden spoon, mix it all well. Keep cooking it for around 20 minutes or so, till the mixture has congealed into a sticky mass. Remove from heat.

Mix in the ingredients and whisk in the batter to a thin consistency.  Keep adding the milk slowly to make the batter.  Adjust the amount of milk you want to add, according to the consistency of the batter.

Crepes- Patishapta-Final Assembly : 

I had used a 8 or 9 Inch Non stick pan. The size of the crepes and the amount of batter per crepe will vary proportionately.

Place the pan on medium high heat. With a brush, smear some ghee or canola oil on the pan.

Then ladle 1/3 cup batter on the pan, and twirl the pan, so that the batter is evenly spread. when you see bubbles on the side and when the sides start to change color, then its time to add in the filling .

With a spoon, add in the filling to one side of the crepe, lengthwise. Don't scrimp on it. I had not been too generous on the first crepe and improved from the second one.

With a spatula carefully roll the crepe over and transfer it on to a plate.


You can serve it both warm and at room temperature.

For extra decadence you can drizzle from condensed milk over the Patishapta.

Bon Appetit !!!!