#Kolkata: Smoked white rice and a piece of fried hilsa (oil dripping on the skin), salt, chilli. Millions of Bengalis are preoccupied with this little dream. Whether it is fried hilsa with khichuri in the rainy season or broth with quick eggplant, the list of hilsa-happiness is long. If you go to the fish market, whether you have a restaurant in your pocket or not, you will be attracted by its shiny silver body. And the heavenly scent that falls on the pot, who will give it ace! In fact, hilsa is not just a delicious fish for Bengalis.
Hilsa is found in Bengali history, trade and even in the scriptures. This beautiful fish has also found a place in Bengali literature. From Premendra Mitra’s ‘Ghanada’ to Manik Bandyopadhyay’s ‘Padmanadir Majhi’ there is also a reference to the love of Hilsa. The scientific name of Hilsa is ‘Hilsa Ilisha’. Whose form is so bright, where did he come from, why or why he is so fond of, he has been searching for many years.
In the twelfth century, that is, nine hundred years ago, the naming of this fish was done by Pandit Jimutabahan. The word hilsa also has a meaning. But that spelling is ‘ilish’. ‘Il’ means ‘in the water’. And the word ‘Ish’ means one who is ‘ruler’ or ‘doer’. And so if the meaning of the word hilsa is put together, it stands for the lord of the water world. The spelling for wisdom is now hilsa. Also the word hilsa means oily or shiny. The name of this delicious fish has changed especially in the area. Hilsa Hilsa in Oriya. In Telugu, this fish is called polasa. In Gujarat, the names of male and female hilsa are different. The female hilsa is called Moden, the male hilsa is called Palva. The name of this fish is Palla in the Indus language of Pakistan. In the Burmese language, this fish is Salank.
Hilsa is a delicious saltwater fish. His family is at sea. But in the rainy season, this fish goes out in search of fresh water irrespective of the male and female. Hilsa formed bases in big rivers like Padma, Ganga, Meghna, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Rupnarayan, Ichhamati, Matla, Kaberi, Narmada. After that there is breeding. When the eggs hatch, we go to the sea together again. This fish is also called amphibian fish as it migrates in salt and fresh water. The length of hilsa is usually up to 60 cm. However, the ones that are seen most of the time in the market are between 35 and 40 centimeters.
The female hilsa is larger in size than the male hilsa and also grows faster. Hilsa usually weighs up to two and a half kg. Hilsa fish becomes an adult in just 1 to 2 years. Skilled swimmer Hilsa can run at a speed of 61 km per hour. They also agree to swim up to twelve hundred kilometers to lay eggs. However, if the depth is 40 feet, they have the advantage of swimming. They lay eggs while swimming. Although eggs are laid throughout the year, hilsa lays most eggs in September-October.
Types of Hilsa also have different types – Chandana Hilsa, Khayra Hilsa, Jaitka Hilsa, Fansa Hilsa etc. However, in the words of Bengalis, or the two hilsas that come up most in the argument are the hilsa of the Padma and the hilsa of the Ganges. Padma Hilsa is high in oil and bright to look at. So people prefer the taste of Padma Hilsa. Fisheries experts say river hilsa is usually a little shorter. And the sea hilsa is much longer and narrower in shape. In addition, the size of the hilsa fish in the Padma-Meghna basin is like a patal, meaning the head and tail should be narrow and the abdomen should be thick.
Food lovers think that there is a big difference in taste between river hilsa and sea hilsa. Asit Ghosh, a resident of Patipukur area, says, “I am always fond of food. If there is hilsa in the leaves, all the rice comes up naturally. I have been buying fish in Patipukur market for 40 years. Eating hilsa means heavenly bliss. “
But why the taste of Padma Hilsa is different? Fisheries experts say that the type of water flow in the Padma and Meghna basins is different, which also makes the taste of hilsa different. There are three types of hilsa commonly found in the Padma – Padma Hilsa, Chandana Hilsa, and Gurta Hilsa. On the other hand, there are two types of hilsa in the Ganges – baby hilsa and hilsa. Small hilsas are called baby hilsas. The smaller ones are called Khayra Hilsa. The external difference between the Ganges and the Padma Hilsa is that the Ganges Hilsa has a golden tinge and the Padma Hilsa (Padma) has a pink tinge. It is said that there is so much oil in Padma Hilsa that some oil has to be discarded during cooking. However, in the case of Padma and Ganga (Hilsa of Ganga) and two hilsas, the taste of fish is more before laying eggs. According to the fishermen, hilsa is most likely to have eggs in its stomach in the month of Bhadra.
However, Padma Hilsa has become almost elusive to the people of Bengal for several years. And so the desire to eat good and delicious hilsa does not leave the Bengalis behind now. These two Bengalis are hilsa mines. But most of the good Padma Hilsa is exported abroad. There are also other reasons for the decline in the yield of good hilsa. Dams have been built on many rivers for irrigation and electricity, which has reduced river flow and increased salinity in the water. As a result, hilsa is being prevented from coming to the river. Apart from that, factory wastes are being mixed in the river water which is a big obstacle in the way of hilsa, experts say. Due to the rising of the river mouth, less hilsa is coming into the river.
Hilsa is now available in markets and restaurants almost all year round. Because the baby hilsa is being caught in the sea at a young age. However, in Bangladesh, the catch of baby hilsa has been prevented by law. But baby hilsa is still being caught and sold in Bengal. As a result, there is a deficit in the yield of big and good hilsa. And to meet this crisis, fake hilsa dominates the market. Especially the taste of fake hilsa in the Arabian Sea. This fish was imported from Gujarat. There is no difference between hilsa and eye drops. But after cooking, it is clear that this is not the real hilsa. Fish that looks like hilsa is also imported from Myanmar. With which there is no similarity in taste and smell of real hilsa.
However, this year there is good news for the Bengalis of Bengal. Before Pujo, two thousand metric tons of Hilsa is being brought from West Bengal to West Bengal. Hilsa-loving Bengalis are naturally in a good mood. Manik Ghosh, a hilsa fish trader from Maniktala, said, “Everyone was upset about hilsa this year. Even though the number of people eating hilsa in Bangladesh is less, it is not bad. The good news for them is that so many hilsas are coming from Upper Bengal.” Even if you go to buy hilsa, it takes a sharp eye. It is in the interest of Bengalis to market good fish if they can bring it home. For example, if the stomach is thicker, it is understood that there is an egg. Or if the egg comes out of the anus of the fish when the stomach is pressed, then it is understood that the fish has left the egg. Hilsa stored on ice also loses its flavor. As soon as the brightness of the fish decreases, you will understand that this fish is preserved. Or if the fish becomes softer it is understood that it is not fresh.
There are some good and bad things about eating fish that is so delicious, and the fish that Bengalis are passionate about, imagining, proud of (Health benefits of Hilsa). Bengalis are not complete without playing hilsa. But how safe is it for heart patients to eat this fish because it is extra oily? But should heart patients absolutely give up this delicious fish? There is no end to the discussion about this. Hilsa fish contains 19.4 grams of fat, 21.6 grams of protein, 2.9 grams of carbohydrates, 2.2 grams of minerals, 180 milligrams of calcium, 280 milligrams of phosphorus and 2-1 milligrams of iron. Each 100 grams of hilsa has 263 calories of energy. There are two types of fats in our body – saturated fat and unsaturated fat. There are some benefits to unsaturated fats. Hilsa fish also contains unsaturated fats. So eating hilsa fish is not harmful to the heart. However, the doctors advised to understand the amount. Unsaturated fats maintain oil balance in the body.
These unsaturated fats help prevent heart disease, build the baby’s brain and provide omega-3 fatty acids to the pregnant woman. In addition, taking the right amount of DHA (docosa heteranoic acid) and EPA (ecosa pentanoic acid) present in hilsa, it plays a big role in preventing diseases like heart attack, ischemic heart, depression, high blood pressure, cancer, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes etc. Omega 3 present in Hilsa also helps in reducing breast cancer, joint pain etc. However, more research should be done on exactly how much hilsa should be eaten by heart patients. This is because hilsa contains sufficient amount of cholesterol which is again quite harmful for heart patients. Cholesterol is especially high in hilsa eggs and wrappers. Hilsa also contains more sodium than other fish. As a result, the amount of salt in the body increases. So the question remains how safe it is for heart patients to eat hilsa.
Hilsa Recipe is being cooked with hilsa nowadays. Continental and Moghlai cuisine are also being tested in various terms with hilsa. But the triumphs of hilsa recipes in the hands of Bengalis are- hilsa bhapa, mustard hilsa, oil fried hilsa, hilsa paturi, hilsa malaikari, curd hilsa, eggplant or pumpkin soup with hilsa. Sraboni Mukherjee, a housewife from a joint family in Shyambazar area, said, “Even today, if there is hilsa in the kitchen, everyone in the house eats it quickly. My two sons and daughters live outside Kolkata. The girl cooks hilsa herself at home in Chennai. He cooked and ate. But he didn’t like it. So when they came, I had to leave the polao meat and cook four kinds of hilsa. “
Hilsa is the last of the 31 fish listed by Raigunakar Bharatchandra Annadamangal in his poem. Whether it is the beginning or the end, in the process of becoming a Bengali from beginning to end, there must be a taste of Hilsa. No matter how much you pull in your pocket, no matter how much you argue with Padma Hilsa and Ganges Hilsa, let’s spend hours at the table with immense effort while choosing thorns, on the rainy morning the silver eyes of the water queen will peek out from the bag of Bengali market.