Sorse Ilish

Sorse Ilish

Sorse Ilish: The Pride of Bengali Cuisine

Bengali cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavours that are a perfect blend of sweet and spicy. One of the most popular dishes in Bengali cuisine is Sorse Ilish, which is a dish made with Hilsa fish cooked in mustard gravy. It is a delicacy that has been cherished by Bengalis for generations, and is a symbol of their cultural heritage. In this article, we will explore the history of Sorse Ilish, its cultural significance, and how it is prepared.

History of Sorse Ilish

The Hilsa fish, also known as Ilish, is a staple of Bengali cuisine. It is a fish that is native to the Bay of Bengal and is considered to be a delicacy due to its unique taste and texture. The history of Sorse Ilish can be traced back to the Mughal era, when the Mughal emperors ruled over India. It is said that the Mughal emperors were so enamoured with the taste of Hilsa fish that they would often ask for it to be cooked in different ways.

Over time, the Bengalis developed their own unique way of cooking the fish, using a blend of mustard, green chillies, and other spices. The dish became so popular that it soon became a staple of Bengali cuisine, and is now considered to be one of the most iconic dishes of the region.

Cultural Significance of Sorse Ilish

Sorse Ilish is not just a dish, but a cultural icon of Bengal. It is a dish that is eaten on special occasions such as weddings, festivals, and other celebrations. The dish is so important to Bengalis that it has become a symbol of their cultural identity, and is often referred to as the “king of fish”.

The dish is also significant in terms of the way it is prepared. Bengalis take great pride in the way they cook their food, and Sorse Ilish is no exception. The fish is usually marinated in a blend of mustard paste, turmeric, salt, and other spices for several hours before it is cooked. This gives the fish a unique flavour and texture that is unmatched by any other dish.

Preparation of Sorse Ilish

The preparation of Sorse Ilish is a delicate and intricate process that requires patience and skill. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare this iconic Bengali dish:


  • 4 pieces of Hilsa fish
  • 1 cup of mustard paste
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp of mustard oil
  • Water as required


  1. Clean and wash the Hilsa fish thoroughly. Cut the fish into pieces and keep aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the mustard paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, and sugar. Add a little water to make a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the mustard oil in a pan. Add the green chillies and fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the mustard paste to the pan and fry for a few minutes until the oil starts to separate.
  5. Add a cup of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the Hilsa fish pieces to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes on low flame.
  7. Serve hot with steamed rice.


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