Cooking with Lounge | The hilsa makeover

Cooking with Lounge | The hilsa makeover

Grilled Hilsa with Jerusalem Artichoke

Serves 4


800g hilsa fillets, cut into 4 pieces (get a Darne cut—a thick fillet from the centre of a fish)

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250g Jerusalem artichokes (arbi)

20g anchovy fillets

40g parsley (do not chop finely)

15ml lemon juice

25g yellow butter

10g garlic, chopped

5 garlic cloves, whole

30ml olive oil

Lemon wedges

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For garnish (optional)

Caper berries

Salad leaves


Heat a pan. Put the fish in the pan with a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper and cook on a low flame. Flip the fish over a few times to seal it on both sides. Put some whole garlic cloves, and butter in the pan after flipping the fillets a few times. The fish can also be cooked in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 5-7 minutes.

Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and blanch in salted water. Be sure not to overcook. Sauté with some olive oil until crisp and golden brown.

Melt some butter in a pan and sauté chopped garlic in it. Take off the flame. Add the lemon juice, anchovy fillets and parsley. The butter should emulsify with the lemon juice.

To serve, first place the Jerusalem artichokes on a plate. Set the grilled hilsa fillets on the artichokes and pour over the emulsion. Garnish with lemon wedges, salad leaves, capers and a sprig of parsley.

Courtesy Shaun Kenworthy, a Kolkata-based food consultant

Polasa (Hilsa) Chapa Pulusu

Serves 1


175g Godavari hilsa fillet (get a Darne cut)

50g onions, chopped

150g tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup curry leaves

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 red chillies, whole

6 garlic cloves, skinned

25g tamarind (a lime-sized ball)

1tbsp jaggery

A pinch of asafoetida (hing)

2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1tsp cumin powder

1½ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp red chilli powder

25ml refined oil

Fresh coriander, chopped


Soak the tamarind in hot water for a while and extract the pulp. Fry the hilsa in hot oil for about 2 minutes on each side. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds and wait till the spices crackle. Add the whole garlic cloves and whole red chillies and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the asafoetida and curry leaves. Put in the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the tomato, turmeric and the rest of the masalas and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the tamarind pulp and cook till the aroma of raw tamarind is gone. Add jaggery to the gravy, put in the fried fish and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve after 1 hour, allowing the flavours to develop. The dish tastes best with steamed rice.

Courtesy Srinath Sambandan, executive chef, The Park, Visakhapatnam

Hilsa Vino Bianco (Hilsa with White Wine)

Serves 2


500g hilsa fillet

100g butter

200ml white wine

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp mustard paste

1 dessert spoon fresh cream

Salt and pepper to taste


Marinate the hilsa with chopped garlic, lemon juice, mustard paste, salt and pepper. Leave the marinated fillet in the fridge for 1 hour. To prepare the white wine sauce, heat butter in a pan, add white wine and the cream. Stir quickly on a low flame till the ingredients have mixed well, and take it off the flame.

Heat a grilling pan, and grill the fillet on both sides on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes. Serve with the white wine sauce.

Courtesy Cibo restaurant, Hotel Janpath, New Delhi

Hilsa Mussallam

Serves 4


1,300g hilsa fillet

For marinade

4¼ tsp ginger paste

2½ tsp garlic paste

1½ tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

60ml lemon juice


For masala

2 green chillies, chopped

½ inch piece ginger, finely chopped

¼ cup desiccated coconut

Salt to taste

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp honey

150g clarified butter (desi ghee)

1 cup yogurt

100g fried onion paste

45g fried garlic paste

2½ tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp red chilli powder

45g flour of roasted gram (bhunna channa)

1 tsp green cardamom powder

½ tsp black pepper (freshly roasted and coarsely ground)

Butter to baste


Clean the fish, wash, remove the head and tail, slit through the centre and side. Mix the marinade ingredients, evenly rub the fish with it and set aside for 15 minutes. Then steam in a steamer for 5 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 135 degrees Celsius. Make a coarse paste of the green chillies, chopped ginger, coconut and honey in a blender. In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt, fried onion, fried garlic, ginger and garlic pastes. Add red chilli powder and salt, and whisk again to homogenize.

Melt clarified butter in a wok, add the yogurt paste and roast until specks of fat begin to appear on the surface. Then add flour of roasted gram and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame, cool and add the remaining ingredients, along with the coarse coconut and honey paste and stir. Adjust the seasoning.

Arrange the steamed hilsa in a large greased roasting tray, smear half the masala on top, turn the fish over and smear the remaining masala on the other side. Roast in the pre-heated oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, basting with butter at regular intervals.

Courtesy Marut Sikka, a Delhi-based food consultant and restaurateur

As told to Seema Chowdhry