Bengali Ilish Tel Jhol Recipe, A Celebration Of Hilsa Flavours
Image Credit: Pinterest/Rumki's golden spoon

Ask any Bengali, whether Bangal or East Bengali or Ghoti or West Bengali, how much they love Ilish Maach or Hilsa fish and you are likely to get a whole dissertation on which preparation they love the most, when the best Hilsa is in season and how eagerly they wait for that time of the year to arrive. Bengalis love their fish, this is true—but if there is one fish that rules them all, it is undoubtedly Hilsa. A Pabda or Bhetki might be close seconds, but the status of Hilsa as the most-loved fish for Bengalis is not up for debate. 

Of course, there are plenty of Hilsa recipes that Bengalis love to indulge in, ranging from a simple Bhapa or steamed one to Paturi. From festivals to simple family gatherings, these Hilsa dishes are a part of the most significant meals. Yet, if there is one Hilsa preparation that is the simplest to cook up and consumed during lunches and dinners, it is Ilish Tel Jhol. 

This Hilsa dish is known for its simple, mustard oil-packed gravy and mild spices. The dish is made even more filling with the addition of diced brinjals, which are fried and add some more meatiness to the finished gravy. Many people also add potatoes and lentil wadis or Bodi to add more flavour to Ilish Tel Jhol. Green chillies are usually used to add some heat to this simple gravy, and the dish is savoured best with hot rice.  

Video Credit: YouTube/Bong Eats

Wondering how to cook up this simple and delicious Hilsa dish? Here’s the Ilish Tel Jhol recipe for you. 


5 hilsa pieces 

½ tsp turmeric powder 

1 tsp salt 

For the gravy:- 

1 small brinjal, diced 

½ tsp nigella seeds 

3 green chillies 

1 tsp turmeric powder 

½ tsp cumin powder 

½ tsp red chilli powder (optional) 

Salt, to taste 

4 tbsp mustard oil 

1.5 cups water 

Coriander leaves, for garnish 

Image credit: Pinterest/Debjanir Rannaghor


1. Wash, clean and pat dry the Hilsa pieces. 

2. Place them in a plate, add the salt and turmeric and mix well. 

3. Let the Hilsa pieces marinate for 20 minutes. 

4. Now, heat the mustard oil in a large wok. 

5. Once it starts smoking, reduce the flame and gently drop in the marinated Hilsa pieces. 

6. Fry the Hilsa until golden on both sides, then drain from the oil and set aside. 

7. In the remaining oil, add nigella seeds and green chillies. 

8. Once the tempering stops spluttering, add the brinjal pieces. 

9. Saute the brinjal for two minutes, then add the turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt and mix well again. 

10. Once the brinjal pieces are 70-80 percent cooked, add the water and bring to a boil. 

11. After boiling the gravy for a minute, add the fish pieces and continue to simmer at a low heat until the fish and brinjal are cooked and the gravy is ready. 

12. Adjust the salt and sprinkle the coriander leaves on top. 

13. Serve the Ilish Tel Jhol hot with rice.