Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nona Ilish

Nona Ilish is a Bangal delicacy, which I learnt from my Mom In Law. Nona Ilish is basically sun dried Hilsa fish preserved with lots of salt. What I understand from Mom-In-Law is, when Hilsa fish is in abandon, fishermen preserve the fishes with salt in a layered manner so that the same they can enjoy when Hilsa is not available. This process to make nona ilish  is something like this, one layer of fish is mixed with salt and placed in an earthenware pot. A second layer goes on top and this way it continues till it reaches the top mouth of the pot. Then the mouth is sealed and placed underground. Anyway, just a word of caution, since the fish contains lots of salt, you need to wash them very thoroughly before cooking and you must not use any salt during cooking. I was a bit sceptical before trying it out because of the smell, but there was no strong smell that you usually get while cooking dried fish ( Sutki).


  • Nona Ilish - 3 pieces
  • Onions - 3 - chopped
  • Green Chilli - 6, more if you can handle it.
  • Turmeric - a pinch

Soak the nona ilish in hot water preferably overnight so that most of the salt get dissolved in water. Change the water after 2 - 3 hours for atleast 2 -3 times.
Remember, this preparation does not need salt to be added since  the fishes are already salted. Washing the fish is very important, otherwise you will not be able to have it due to its salt content. Now, the recipe.

Take mustard oil in a pan and fry the fish pieces thoroughly.

Add chopped onions and 3 green chillies in the same oil and stir. You may sprinkle some water as well.

Fry for 4-5 minutes till the onions are browned thoroughly. You may add the turmeric powder at this stage.

Add the fried fish and mix well. Add some more green chilies if you can handle it, Sprinkle a handful of water into it.

Continue frying till oil comes out of the onions. Add chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat.
Serve with plain rice.

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