The much awaited Hilsa season is finally here!Like every other year, this year too Aaheli, the Bengali restaurant from the house of Bengal Peerless has brought a variety of Hilsa delicacies from Bangladesh and West Bengal,all under one roof at their much awaited festival called ‘Aaheli te Eilshe Guri’.All Bengalis have a thing for Hilsa,especially during the monsoons.The gloomy sky, rain and Hilsa is something that each and every Bengali treasures,no matter wherever they are in this world! It’s one of those few things for which a Bengali can spend thousands(Even if they are broke) to get that perfect Hilsa from the nearby market or a fish monger.One will get numerous avatars of Hilsa on this specially crafted menu. We hardly get a chance to taste some uncommon or forgotten dishes of Hilsa,but thanks to Aaheli,we had the fortunate opportunity to taste a few of them.Not to forget, regular Hilsa preparations like – Fried Hilsa with Khichuri, Ilish dim-er bora are also there on the menu so that you can try out some common dishes as well.Normally the prices are high,so one might try to avoid buying a whole fish altogether.In such scenarios,pay a visit to this restaurant if you want to avoid the hassle of cooking this fish.One gets to select from a huge variety prepared by expert chefs.
We tried the following:-
Ilish dim er bora:
Hilsa roe mixed with chickpea flour and chopped onion, deep fried to golden brown. Essentially a starter,but can be eaten with khichudi or bhapa as well.Actually,it goes with anything and everything!
Bhaja Ilish er moja:
Simple fried pieces of the fish served with fried ilish eggs in the “peti”(The stomach of the Hilsa).This is a universally loved dish cooked in every Bengali households before any other Ilish preparations.
Pui saak e Ilish matha:
Crushed fish head cooked spinach leaves and stems. Another common household delicacy.
Ilish matha diye dal:
Crushed fish head cooked in a thick yellow lentil gravy,this is usually made in all the households with rohu/katla,but it gets better with Ilish.
Kancha Ilisher jhal:
Poached hilsa cooked with black cumin seeds,giving a very light yet delicate aroma.
Ilish er ullash:
Hilsa cooked in a rich onion gravy, a taste to cheer (ullash) for.
Ilish maccher tenga:
An “opar Bangla(Bangladesh)” delicacy,which has been cooked in a spicy tamarind based gravy.
Hilsa cooked in a pineapple based gravy along with mustard. The fish is actually served in a pineapple which has been cut out from within,making it hollow to accommodate the dish.
Ilish begun er talmil:
A pretty light dish , the hilsa being cooked with brinjal and black cumin seeds.
Doodh e Ilish:
Hilsa cooked in a milk and yogurt based gravy,the primary ingredient being milk.
Aam tel Ilish:
Hilsa cooked in spicy pickled mango oil.
Pieces of hilsa cooked in coconut milk based gravy,topped off generous amounts of grated coconut.
Ilish khichurir talmil:
Deep hilsa served with Bengali khichuri and jhuri Aloo bhaja,with a spoon of ghee on top. The perfect lunch for any Bengali household during the rainy season.
Thin crusted pancakes with boneless hilsa as the filling. Normally,the Bengali style pancakes are sweet in taste,but in this,only the crust of the pancake was sweet whereas the Hilsa filling was salty.A nice change from the normal Hilsa dishes.
Ilish thalir sanjog:
A complete thali with selected Hilsa preparations.The various ilish included in the thali are dim er bora, Ilish er matha diye daal, fried Ilish, pui saak e Ilish matha, kancha Ilisher er jhaal and ilish begun er talmil. It ends with papad and their pretty tasty doi.A must try for all those who love all preparations of Hilsa.
The festival runs throughout the month of August’16. If you are a true fan of Ilish in all it’s forms like me,then do pay this place a visit.Also,Aaheli,itself is a brand serving delectable Bengali cuisines since generations!It started out in Peerless Inn at the time when there were hardly any Bengali cuisine serving restaurants in Kolkata.Now with their new branch in the Axis mall at the 4th Floor,they sure are to win more hearts.