Hilsa fish, also known as Ilish or Ilisha, is a popular fish species found in the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is highly prized for its rich and distinctive flavour. Hilsa is considered a delicacy and holds cultural significance in the cuisine of Bangladesh, West Bengal (India), and parts of Odisha (India).
Here are some key points about Hilsa fish (ইলিশ মাছ):
: Hilsa fish has a slender and elongated body with a silver colouration on its sides and a bluish-green hue on its back. It typically measures between 25 to 40 centimetres in length, although larger specimens can reach up to 60 centimeters.
: Hilsa fish is mainly found in the rivers and estuaries of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the Ganges-Padda-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system. It is an anadromous species, meaning it migrates from salt water to fresh water for breeding purposes.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Hilsa fish spawn in the estuaries, with the majority of the breeding occurring in the Bay of Bengal. After spawning, the young Hilsa fish migrate upstream to freshwater rivers, where they grow and mature.
Hilsa fish is highly prized for its distinctive flavour, which is attributed to its high-fat content. It has a rich, oily texture and a unique taste that is often described as a combination of sweet, sour, and savoury. Hilsa is commonly prepared by marinating it with spices and then cooked in various ways, including steaming, frying, or grilling.
Hilsa fish holds cultural significance in the cuisine and traditions of Bangladesh and West Bengal (India). It is considered a symbol of celebration and is often prepared during festivals and special occasions. The Hilsa Festival, known as "Ilish Utsav" or "Hilsa Festival," is a popular event celebrating the fish's arrival during the monsoon season.
Hilsa fish is highly nutritious and a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is particularly rich in vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium.
Hilsa fish populations have faced challenges due to overfishing, pollution, and habitat degradation. As a result, efforts have been made to implement sustainable fishing practices and conservation measures to protect the species.