Hilsa A type of oily fish which is common in Bengali and Oriya cuisines. A very popular fish in Southeast Asia, it is the national fish of Bangladesh. It lays its eggs in large rivers despite being a sea fish and their young are caught while swimming back to the sea since they are the most delicious. The fish has a lot of tiny bones and needs to be de-boned.

The shad fish is sometimes used as a substitute because it is not easily available everywhere. In West Bengal and parts of Assam, it has a religious value and is given as an offering to some gods.


Hilsa fish can be smoked, fried, steamed, baked, prepared with mustard and various condiments. It needs very litle oil for cooking since it has a high content of oil. It is also cooked wrapped in banana/plantain leaves. The intestine of this fish and the fish head is a delicacy and most often served with steamed rice and hot green chillies.

Health Benefits

Like other fish it is rich in essential fatty acids(omega 3 fatty acids) and helps develop healthy brain and nervous system.Some research has shown that hilsa fish could help lower cholesterol level.

Did you know?
A pair of hilsa are bought on auspicious days in Bengali families.

Recipes using Hilsa

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