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Hilsa the taste of the season across Kolkata markets

Forget khoka ilish, pomfret and prawns, feast on the queen of fishes for now

Bishwabijoy Mitra | Published 06.07.23, 03:46 PM

All photographs by Amit Datta/My Kolkata

The wait for fish-loving Bengalis is finally over! Monsoon is here and so is hilsa (ilish). Markets in Kolkata are flooded with the queen of fish. The price is on the higher side (Rs 1,200-2,500 per kilogram) but the quality is still only moderate.

Price factor

The cost of the fish depends solely on the weight. While khoka ilish (between 150g and 200g) is still available in some markets at Rs 300 to Rs 350 per kilogram, despite a ban, there are few takers. On the other hand, fish weighing between 750g and 800g are being sold the most at Rs 1,200 per kilogram, while those between 1 kilogram and 1.2 kilograms, are being sold for Rs 1,800 per kg. “The higher range fishes, weighing between 1.5kg and 2.2kg, are being sold in the range of Rs 2,200-Rs 2,500 per kilogram,” said Manotosh Das, a fish seller at Maniktala market.

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Interestingly, unlike other fish varieties, the price of hilsa is almost uniform across different city markets. For instance, Lake Market, known for good quality products at a higher price range, sells fish for at least Rs 10 to 50 more compared to other markets, but hilsa price is almost similar. “If we increase prices, people would go to other markets. As all of us get hilsa from the same sources, there is not much difference in quality,” said Swapan Das, a fish seller at Lake Market.

Steady supply from all sources

Hilsa on sale at Baguiati market

Hilsa on sale at Baguiati market

Till mid-June, despite a government ban on catching khoka (juvenile) hilsa, the markets in Kolkata were flooded with fishes weighing between 150g and 200g. “Those were mostly from Odisha and Digha. But now things have changed. As monsoon has hit south Bengal, bigger hilsa are coming not only from Odisha but Nadia, Kolaghat, Kakdwip and Digha. Some good quality fishes are coming from Bangladesh as well, but the number is not huge. Once it starts to appear, the price might fall in the coming months,” said Amar Das, a fish seller at Lake Market. Along with that, frozen fishes are also being sold.

Pomfret and prawns take a backseat

With a steady inflow, tiger prawns and lobsters have lost their glory. Despite the price of lobsters dipping to Rs 800 per kg, compared to last week’s Rs 900, most people are investing that money to buy hilsa. “During June, with the staggering absence of hilsa, people were buying good quality pomfret and tiger prawns. Now, they are the third favourite after hilsa and pabda-parshe,” said Atanu Biswas, a wholesaler from Howrah Fish Market.

Last updated on 06.07.23, 03:49 PM
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