Let’s start with the queen of fishes in Odia cuisine today. Super yummy, so damn delicious, and a treat to your senses this is all I can say about Ilish fish. This one is a way to happiness and pleasure to the senses in steamed, deep-fried, shallow fried, and roasted forms. One of the most authentic/ancient ways of cooking Ilish is making a bhapa of it.

Bhapa word is derived from the word “Bhaap” which means steam. Now you can easily get the process that we are going to follow to make this fish. Yes, we are going to steam it but not the way we usually steam other fishes.

Before getting into the recipes lets discuss nutritional facts of the core ingredients of the dish.

IlishFish– It’s a type of oily fish which is commonly used in Bengali and Oriya cuisines. It is rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3 fatty acids) and helps develop a healthy brain and nervous system.

Mustard– Mustard oil is known to be great for the skin. Mustard seeds are rich in a nutrient called selenium, known for its high anti-inflammatory effects. This is very rich in calcium, manganese, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, protein and dietary fibre. Also, these are known to give relief from migraine attacks.



  • 300gms of Ilish(approximately 4 pieces)

*always buy a whole Ilish and it must be above 500gms per unit.

  • 1tbsp black mustard seeds(soaked)
  • 1tbsp yellow mustard seeds(soaked)
  • 2tbsp soft coconut, cut into pieces.
  • 2 green chillies roughly chopped
  • 1tsp raw mustard oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of half lime
  • Salt as per the taste
  • 4 Slit Green chillies (for 4 pieces of fish)


  • Make a fine paste of the yellow mustard and black mustard, Coconut, chopped green chillies, salt and garlic with 3/4th cup of water.
  • Take out the paste in a steel Tiffin box/ a steel closed container (you require a steel box with a tight lid, which must be big and wide enough to arrange all the 4 pieces of Ilish on it so that they don’t overlap or touch each other.
  • Squeeze out the lime juice into the mixture along with the 1tsp raw mustard oil. Mix everything nicely.
  • Put the fish pieces in the marination and coat it properly.
  • Arrange the fish in the Tiffin box and put the cover tightly and keep it aside for 15-20 mins.
  • Now take a steel Kadhai/wok and put a metal stand on the base.
  • Now pour water till you reach the top level of the stand.
  • Put on the lid and flame on.
  • Let the water boil and keep the Tiffin box on the stand and put the lid back.
  • On medium flame cook it for 15-20 minutes.
  • Take out the Tiffin box (don’t open the lid) and keep it aside for 5 minutes.
  • Once you open the lid the entire kitchen will be filled with the aroma, capable enough to intoxicate a foodie’s heart and mind.


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