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Oh! Calcutta’s food festival spotlights the monsoon’s pride — Ilish

Enjoy the season’s best catch at the Hilsa Festival, on till mid-August

Aatreyee Mohanta | Published 14.07.22, 11:49 AM

Video: Arijit Sen

The monsoon is here and that can mean only one thing — it’s time to let the Hilsa swim all the way to our plates. And the days the fish comes home, there is an unmistakable celebratory mood, not to forget the triumph of having bought the ‘best ilish in the market’.

Oh! Calcutta’s Hilsa Feast is a celebration of the ‘Queen of Fish’. From new recipes to tried-and-tested ones, the menu honours this silver queen that Bengalis eagerly wait for every monsoon.  

On till mid-August at the Forum Mall and Silver Spring outlets, the food festival features classics like llish Beguner Jhol, Ilish Paturi, Ilish Bhaja and Bhapa Ilish. Don’t forget to try the brand’s signature Smoked Hilsa, which is an adaptation of a British Raj recipe. Some other unique dishes include Mochar Ilish, Posto Narkol Ilish and Aam Tel llish. 

The Mochar Ilish is a patty with layers of earthy mocha (banana flower) and fatty fish. Aam Tel Ilish is wrapped in a pumpkin leaf with the tangy flavours of mango pickle. It is served with fragrant rice that carries the flavours of the mango-infused oil. 

There is comfort in familiarity and so the menu at the Hilsa Festival features constant favourites. “There are some dishes that people just can’t have enough of, so we have retained them, like Bhaja Ilish, Shorshe Ilish and Hilsa Fish Finger. However, what's new is Mochar Ilish. We wanted to keep things traditional and have dishes that have been appreciated by the customers,” said Indraneel Bhattacharya, executive chef, Speciality Restaurants. 

This year Oh! Calcutta has also introduced a Hilsa thali and a meal box for two. The thali serves up rice, dal, bhaja along with two types of ilish dishes. The meal box packs in 10 items including llish Beguner Jhol, Ilish Paturi, Doi Murgi and dessert. 

This seasonal delight is every Bengali's most coveted fish and for good reason. Dotted with bones, this fatty fish has a silken texture that melts in the mouth. The mouthfeel is rich and full-bodied making sure that no matter what the dish is, the flavour of the fish shines through. 

“Bengalis love their fish. The battle of chingri and ilish is much like that of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, but more often than not the love for ilish crosses borders. We have recently opened Chourangi in London, and Hilsa is a favourite there as well. Probashi Bengalis love these culinary preparations and we love creating this experience for our customers,” said Debashish Ghosh, senior business manager, Speciality Restaurants.

My Kolkata Picks

Shorshe Ilish: This is an Oh! Calcutta classic. The mustard and chillies pack a punch while the fish is flaky and melts in the mouth. Pair it with steamed rice and you’re in heaven.

Arijit Sen

llish Beguner Jhol: Don’t miss out on this Chef’s Special. The light gravy is the perfect canvas for the fatty richness of the fish to shine through. The eggplant acts almost like a sponge and soaks up the subtle flavours of the kalo jeere, which adds an earthiness to the dish. 

Arijit Sen

Ilish Bhaja: Simple yet a crowd-pleaser. The fried Hilsa is one of the best ways to appreciate the flavours of the fish. The crisp skin, flavourful fat and ilisher dim (Hilsa eggs) makes it a delicacy. And don’t forget the tel (the mustard oil in which the Hilsa is fried). A generous spoonful of it poured into the rice is a must.

Arijit Sen

Festival details

  • Location: Oh! Calcutta outlets at Forum Mall and Silver Spring 
  • Timings: 12.30pm to 3.30pm for lunch and 7pm to 11pm for dinner 
  • Available till mid-August
  • Pocket pinch for two: ₹2,500 (without alcohol) 
Last updated on 14.07.22, 11:49 AM
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