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Ilish Pulao: Mastering the Art of Bengali Comfort Food

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Craving something unforgettable? Dive into the flavors of Bengal with Banglar Rannaghor's Ilish Pulao recipe. It's a feast for the senses, melding succulent Ilish (Hilsha) fish with aromatic kalijeera rice and creamy coconut milk. This dish is more than a meal; it's an experience that celebrates authentic Bengali cuisine in every bite.

Why You'll Love This Recipe:

  • Authentic Bengali Flavors: This Ilish Pulao recipe stays true to its roots, offering a culinary journey right in your kitchen.

  • Easy to Follow: Our step-by-step guide makes it simple for cooks of all levels to recreate this masterpiece.

  • Common Kitchen Ingredients: We use ingredients that you're likely to already have, making it convenient for you to whip up this dish.


  • 4 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

  • 2½ tbsp onion paste

  • 1½ tsp ginger paste

  • ½ tsp garlic paste

  • ½ tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

  • 3 tbsp full-fat yogurt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 5-6 pieces of Ilish / Hilsha fish

  • 15-16 green chilies, tips removed

  • 2 tbsp ghee

  • 3 cups kalijeera rice, soaked for 20 mins

  • 4 cups hot water

  • Fried onions for garnish


  1. Initial Spice Base: Heat 4 tbsp of cooking oil in a pot. Add thinly sliced onion and fry until light brown. Add onion paste with a splash of water and sauté until the paste changes color.

  2. Aromatic Paste: Add ginger and garlic paste. Cook for 40-50 seconds. Stir in the chili powder and salt. Cook until oil separates.

  3. Yogurt Blend: Lower the heat. Mix 3 tbsp of yogurt with 1 tsp of sugar. Add to the pot and cook for 1½ minutes, stirring well.

  4. The Fish: Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Add Ilish/Hilsha fish pieces and 7-8 green chilies. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes over low heat.

  5. Rice Preparation: Transfer the fish to a plate, retaining the gravy. In the same pot, heat 2 tbsp of ghee and add 7-8 green chilies. Add a bit of the reserved gravy and 3 cups of soaked kalijeera rice. Fry for 1-2 minutes.

  6. Cooking the Rice: Add 4 cups of hot water, 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 tsp of salt, and ½ tsp of sugar. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

  7. Assembling: Fluff up the rice. Place some rice on a separate plate. Now add the cooked fish and gravy to the pot, then top it off with the set-aside rice.

  8. Final Touch: Garnish with a teaspoon of ghee and fried onions. Cover and cook over the lowest heat for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy your delicious Ilish Pulao!


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