Ilish Macher Maatha Chorchori / Stir Fried Hilsa Fish Head
Ilish macher maatha chorchori kumro diye / hilsa fish head fry with pumpkin is a scrumptious and delectable classic recipe that can take the mundane meal to just another level. Fish head is considered as a delicacy in Bengali cuisine and held in high esteem.
The prized Ilish / hilsa is not just valued for its tastiest steaks but the head of hilsa too regarded as one of the utmost culinary delicacy in Bengali cuisine. Ilish macher maatha kochu saag diye / hilsa head with stalks and greens of taro roots is one of the cult classic in Bengali cuisine.
How To Cook Ilish Macher Maatha / Hilsa Fish Head ?
Ilish macher maatha / hilsa fish head can be cooked in many ways. But my most favourite way to cook hilsa fish head is with kochu saag / greens of taro root. But to procure one is equally difficult, as this is not locally grown.
Hence the next best recipe is to make a lip-smacking stir fry of hilsa fish head with pumpkin. Pumpkin? Yes, you have read it right, the green pumpkin or kancha kumro in Bengali. Pumpkin taste equally good with any other fish heads too. The original recipe, that my aunt used to make was with Chitol macher maatha / clownknife fish head. I have adopted the same recipe replacing it with hilsa fish head.
You are going to need the following ingredients :
Fresh hilsa fish head / ilish macher maatha
Tender Green pumpkin (the skin is green, inside is pale yellow) / kancha kumro in Bengali
Staples – onion, ginger, green chillies
Spices – nigella seeds (kalonji / kalojeere) , Cumin powder , Red chilli powder , Turmeric Powder
Others – Mustard oil, salt and sugar
How To Eat Hilsa Fish Head / Ilish Macher Maatha?
But first can you eat fish heads? Yes off course, you can. Fish heads can be one of the tastiest bite of the fish, sometimes more tastiest than the fish itself. And very flavourful too. In Bengali homes, we do teach and encourage our kids to eat and enjoy the fish heads, at an early stage of their life. This part is considered as most nutritious too.
At the same time, we love and enjoy the fish heads of river fish mostly. Being a Bengali we are slightly partial towards sweet fresh water fishes.
In contrast to other fish heads, hilsa fish head is more bony and has less of gelatinous bits and cheek meat. But that does not deter us to enjoy the delicious hilsa fish head. Only, you have to know how to handle the head of the queen “the hilsa”.
So I always prefer to cook the hilsa fish head with vegetables like green pumpkin. Vegetables adds flavour and textural contrast to the fish head and thus making it more wholesome, hearty and very nutritious too. Eating fish heads will make you brainy, according to legends of all Bengali Mom’s and could be a ticket to IIT or Stanford as well. Pun intended.
Hilsa Fish Head Fry With Pumpkin / Ilish Macher Maatha Chorchori
- 1 Hilsa Fish Head, big size
- 500 gm Tender Green Pumpkin
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Ginger Paste
- 3-4 Green Chillies
- 1 tsp Nigella Seeds / kalonji / kalojeere
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp Red Chilli powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil as requires
- First wash the head of the hilsa fish properly. Smear it with salt and turmeric powder and leave aside for 15 min.
- Peel the pumpkin and chop the pumpkin into small pieces around 1 inch cube.
- Heat enough oil in a kadhai or deep fry pan. Fry the fish head properly till it is brown on all sides and can be easily broken into pieces when pressed with khunti / flat steel spatula.This will take around 10 min. Once done, slot the fish head out of the kadhai.
- In the same kadhai, add some more oil, around 1 tablespoon if requires. Temper the oil with nigella seeds and green chillies (slit from the middle). Saute it for 30 sec.
- Tip in the chopped onion and fry till the onions are soft and translucent. Add the ginger paste too and fry till the rawness disappear.
- Add the pumpkin now, sprinkle little salt and fry the pumpkin on medium heat till it become little soft.
- Break the fish head into pieces (if not done earlier) and add it to the pumpkin. Add all the spices now, mix it well. Fry for sometimes on low heat with stirring in between. This will take another 5 minute.
- Check for salt, if requires add some more. Add sugar. and keep on braising the fish head with pumpkin on low heat for another 5 minute.You will notice a change of color.
- Close the lid and let it cook till the pumpkins are very soft and tender, slightly mushy and cooked through.Give a nice stir. If it is drying out and sticking to the pan, add 1 tablespoon hot mustard oil and mix it well.DO NOT ADD WATER IN CHORCHORI. This is the golden rule of making a lip smacking chorchori.
- The final stage would look like a mish mash of broken pieces of fish head and pumpkin. Taste would be spicy with little undertone of sweetness. DO not skip the sugar here. The caramelized flavour is all what we are looking for.
- Serve ilish macher maatha / stir fried hilsa fish head with plain steamed rice.
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