Ilish Biryani (Hilsa Biryani)


‘Ilish’ (Hilsa) is called the queen of fish. The silver coloured fish is available in market for 2-3 months during monsoon. Though now a days it is available throughout the year in market in various sizes. The price of it also depends on the size of the fish. Though the fish atleast 1 kg weight gives more flavors in the dish, but due to high demand and price it is rarely available in market! The mostly available size of the fish is between 500gms to 800gms.  Last Sunday Baba bought a fish of 700gms and apart from the traditional ‘Bhapa Shorshe Ilish’ I made some Ilish Biryani for the first time and it turned out so well that I thought of sharing the recipe with you. It is completely my recipe and I added the spices of my choice. If you wish you may add or discard the spices. It is a simple recipe and you can cook either in microwave or in the traditional ‘dum’ (steam) method. Here goes the recipe.



  • Basmati or any long grained rice – 200 gms
  • Ilish or Hilsa Fish – 6 pieces
  • Onion – 2 (Sliced)
  • Ginger Juice – 2-3 tsp
  • Garlic Paste – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
  • Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
  • Sugar – ¼ tsp
  • Green Cardamom – 3-4
  • Cinnamon Stick – 2”
  • Clove – 3-4
  • Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg Powder – ½ tsp
  • Kesar or Saffron – Few strands (Soaked in ½ cup warm milk)
  • Green Chilli – 3-4
  • Mustard Oil – 2 Tbsp + for frying the onions
  • Ghee – 3-4 Tbsp
  • Salt – To taste


  1. Mean while wash and soak the Basmati rice for 30 minutes.
  2. Marinate the fish pieces with ½ tsp turmeric powder and some salt. Leave for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Heat sufficient mustard oil in a pan to fry the onion. Fry till they turn brown and crisp. Take out on a absorbent paper and keep aside.
  4. Take another pan and add 2 Tbsp of oil in it. When it turns hot add ginger juice and garlic paste. Now add the marinated fish pieces. Turn them carefully.
  5. Add 1 cup water, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder, sugar, salt and half of the garam masala powder. Adjust salt. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Mean while in a large pot boil water and add whole garam masala. Now add the soaked rice and cooked till they almost done. Drain the excess water and let the rice cool a little. You can spread the rice on a large plate too.
  7. Now remove the fish from heat.
  8. Take a non stick cooking bowl with lid or a big glass pot (if you are cooking in microwave).
  9. Spread a little ghee at the bottom and top it with a layer of rice.
  10. Sprinkle some fried onion and some salt.
  11. Now arrange the fish pieces in single layer. Add some gravy too.
  12. Sprinkle nutmeg powder and garam masala powder.
  13. Now cover the fish pieces with rest of the rice . Spread evenly.
  14. Sprinkle fried onion and some more salt.
  15. Add slit green chillis too.
  16. Add rest of the fish gravy.
  17. Now sprinkle the saffron soaked milk.
  18. Drizzle some ghee on top.
  19. Cover and cook on slow fire for 20-25 minutes with the lid on.
  20. If you are cooking in microwave cook for 5 minutes n high then rest for 5-6 minutes then again cook for 5 minutes on high.
  21. Ilish Biryani is ready to be served with simple onion raita.



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