Ever heard of Game of Bones ?
Well this is exactly what I was invited to play at the d’Elish’ious Elish
Maach (Hilsa fish) festival, showcasing the delectable but bony Hilsa fish 😀
The Bengali restaurant Esplanade in its swanky new avatar and location
(adjacent to its old one), is holding this festival for the
Bengal’uru Bengalis and Bengal’urians
Falling in the latter category, I had to depend on the guidance of my
knowledgeable Bengali companions, who were as passionate about eating their
they were about making sure I ate it right because this is a complex fish to
The Hilsa is a delicacy and is considered the queen of fish (or king
depending on which gender
you favor 😀 ) and from what I understood and witnessed, it can be
considered an obsession among Bengalis. And though it is expensive, most of
them are happy to pay, especially when the quality is good.
For a hilsa virgin (for lack of a better word), the process of consuming it
can seem daunting due to its innumerable bones, many of which are multi
pronged and which follow no disciplined pattern whatsoever. But once hooked
(no pun intended)
onto the flavor and taste, one digs in with both hands and sometimes uses
the neighbors hands too 😀 to extricate the bones and savor the flesh.
When people caution you not to be hasty and swallow the bones of this elish maach, then be assured that they are not making Maach ado about nothing because the
prongs can get stuck in the throat and put you in a Sticky situation.
Of course I was careful and I was one of the quietest at the table (for a
change), as I totally focused on deboning.
The fish can be prepared in many ways and there were a dozen varieties on
this special menu, most of which were curries that were to be eaten with
The 2 non gravy ones were the Elish maach bhaja with Tel, the fried fish
served along with a cup of its own oil that is to be mixed with rice and
savored. Well savor we did, for we wiped the cup dry with no Tel tale signs
!!! The other was the boneless Elish paturi sorshe, which was far easier to
eat, with its relatively boneless fillet steamed in banana leaf.
The rest of the curries were the Kumro beguner elish jhol with pumpkin and
brinjal, the Bhapa elish with mustard paste, Anarash elich with a sweetish
pineapple gravy, Doi elish in a curd base, Tetul elisher jhol with a
tamarind base, Aam achar elish jhol with the curry flavored with mango
pickle and the Elisher maccher tramfrado with a coconut milk and Gondhoraj
Of course almost everything was new to me so I had no earlier experience to
compare to but I really liked the fried fish and the almost all the curries.
The Gondhoraj ghol – buttermilk spiked with the Gondhoraj lime and Gondhoraj
mojito, were refreshing accompaniments to the meal.
Of course at the end of it we had to over indulge as usual and dig into the
light, airy and divine baked sondesh, baked rosogolla (please don’t kill me
if I have spelt this politically wrongly 😀 ) and the ever present Mishti
The festival is on from Aug 4th – Aug 15th, 2017. Make sure you visit them
before that or else you will regret it very Maach !!!
Aug 4th, 2017
For more pictures see My Facebook – Esplanade-Hilsa festival