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“Ilish: The Crown Jewel of Traditional Ranna Pujo Cuisine”

Ranna Pujo, the culinary celebration during Durga Puja in Bengal, is a time when kitchens come alive with the enticing aroma of spices, and families unite to prepare sumptuous feasts. Amidst this delightful festival, one food item reigns supreme – Ilish, also known as Hilsa fish. Ilish holds a special place in Bengali hearts, and its presence during Ranna Pujo is a testament to the deep-rooted cultural and culinary traditions of Bengal. In this article, we delve into the significance of Ilish and its various preparations that grace the dining tables during Ranna Pujo.

The Significance of Ilish in Ranna Pujo

Ilish is more than just a fish; it is an icon of Bengali culture and pride. Its distinct flavor, tender flesh, and the ability to carry the essence of spices make it an integral part of Bengali cuisine. During Ranna Pujo, the inclusion of Ilish in the menu is almost mandatory, as it symbolizes purity and is considered a gesture of respect to the goddess Durga herself.

Preparations of Ilish during Ranna Pujo

  1. Shorshe Ilish: Shorshe Ilish is perhaps the most iconic Ilish dish and a highlight of Ranna Pujo. In this preparation, Hilsa fish is marinated in a mixture of mustard seeds, green chilies, turmeric, and a dash of yogurt. The fish is then gently simmered in this vibrant and piquant gravy until it reaches perfection. The result is a delightful combination of the rich, oily texture of Ilish and the bold flavors of mustard, creating a harmonious culinary experience.
  2. Bhapa Ilish: Bhapa Ilish showcases the simplicity and elegance of Bengali cooking. Here, Hilsa fish is marinated in a mustard and coconut paste, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed to create a fragrant and delicate dish. The steaming process allows the fish to absorb the flavors while retaining its natural tenderness.
  3. Ilish Machher Jhol: Ilish Machher Jhol is a lighter alternative to Shorshe Ilish. In this preparation, the Hilsa fish is cooked in a mild curry made with spices like cumin, ginger, and green chilies. It’s a comforting dish that allows the delicate flavor of the fish to shine through.
  4. Ilish Bhaja: For those who prefer a crispy texture, Ilish Bhaja is a popular choice. Thin slices of Hilsa are marinated with turmeric and salt, lightly coated in rice flour, and deep-fried until they turn golden and crunchy. It’s a delightful appetizer or side dish during Ranna Pujo.


Ilish, the “King of Fish” in Bengal, plays a starring role during Ranna Pujo, a festival that celebrates the art of cooking and Bengali culinary traditions. Whether it’s the rich and spicy Shorshe Ilish, the delicate Bhapa Ilish, or the simple yet satisfying Ilish Machher Jhol, the versatility of this fish shines through in its various preparations. Beyond its taste, Ilish embodies the spirit of Bengal, its cultural richness, and the reverence for traditions passed down through generations. So, if you find yourself in Bengal during Durga Puja, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the divine delight of Ilish and immerse yourself in the flavors of this remarkable culture.



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