If we want, we can actually denote a season by the queen of fish, hilsa. Yes, such as the popularity and madness for that very particular item. But this, yes, the scene is slightly different. Personally, I do not prefer to buy hilsa of less-than-a-kg size. But it’s getting sold at 2200-2500/- per kg at the local markets- and honestly, that’s out of my reach. For a pretty long time, I kept on hearing that Hilsa at Diamond Harbour is quite pocket-friendly and we, actually, we’re about to shoot for Foodka there. So, here comes my experience on Hilsa at Diamond Harbour.
ইলশে গুঁড়ি ইলশে গুঁড়ি- ইলিশ মাছের ডিম|
ইলশে গুঁড়ি ইলশে গুঁড়ি- দিনের বেলায় হিম|
কেয়াফুলে ঘুণ লেগেছে, পড়তে পরাগ মিলিয়ে গেছে,
মেঘের সীমায় রোদ হেসেছে, আলতা-পাটি শিম্|
ইলশে গুঁড়ি হিমের কুঁড়ি, রোদ্দুরে রিম্ ঝিম্|
হালকা হাওয়ায় মেঘের ছাওয়ায় ইলশে গুঁড়ির নাচ,
ইলশে গুঁড়ির নাচন্ দেখে নাচছে ইলিশ মাছ|
কেউ বা নাচে জলের তলায়, ল্যাজ তুলে কেউ ডিগবাজি খায়,
নদীতে ভাই জাল নিয়ে আয়, পুকুরে ছিপ গাছ|
উলসে ওঠে মনটা, দেখে ইলশে গুঁড়ির নাচ- Satyen Dutta
Journey and the WBTDC
Diamond Harbour is a very common weekend destination and I won’t waste much time talking about the route and travel logistics. Please check the location on Google Maps here. It takes around 2.5-3 hours via those narrow roads, from Kolkata. And the drive is not really something, that I look forward to. There is definitely a WBTDC tourist lodge there. While the interior is nicely done, employees there definitely would need some more hospitality training. Rooms are well-decorated but small. But this is a good (probably being among the very few ones) overnight staying option there.
Wholesale Hilsa at Diamond Harbour
Before we go to the place, where we had a fantastic lunch, allow me to tell the story of the wholesale hilsa market at Diamond Harbour. Once you reach Diamond Harbour, ask any local for the location of Nagendra Bazaar and you’ll be taken there. You may go by your personal vehicle or toto. The auction for fish (hilsa in this case) starts mostly from the second half of the day (4/430PM) and goes on till late evening. And trust me, it’s a sight to behold.
Do not expect the social distancing norms to be maintained in Nagendra Bazaar, Diamond Harbour. It’s a fish market and it behaves like one. Full crowded and people running like madmen, all around. Hilsa is auctioned and large arats (wholesalers) don’t prefer to sell the queen of the river to retail buyers. It’s sold as per a jhanka (or 45 kgs) and is priced around 400/- per kg. Now, please do not get disheartened. There are many retailers, looking for the fish-loving-tourist crowd and will happily sell you the large ones by per pc. the price is as per (or sometimes higher) than Kolkata and judging the quality is very very difficult.
I won’t say, you shouldn’t- but be very very careful- about the quality. Impulsive buying of Hilsa from Diamond Harbour is a sin and it’s my unofficial job to warn you. You may buy it from there, but I won’t really suggest the same. Your friendly neighbourhood fish seller is at least trustworthy.
Debur Hotel at Diamond Harbour
Now here, I found something as a universal choice. whenever I asked any local where should I go for a good hilsa lunch- at a pice hotel, the universal common choice was Debur Hotel. And when I reached there, I was quite taken aback by the looks of the place. It’s a pretty posh pice hotel. the hygiene is quite well maintained and the sitting area is nice and clean. The pricing is not really pocket friendly and I’d request you to take a look at the menu board here.
Food is served on disposable plates and all the employees were wearing masks- nothing to complain, really. We had a late lunch- at around 5, but the food was served hot with freshly done rice. And I am definitely impressed by that gesture.
Hilsa at Debur Hotel, Diamond Harbour
We took one veg thali each and a choice of fish. and no surprise, the choice mostly, was hilsa at Diamond Harbour. While the veg thali was perfectly fine, the problem was with the hilsa piece. Thali had hot rice, pretty tasty dal, some potato fries and Alu Posto. Good homely food served hot. And we were very happy. The hilsa dish was priced at 220/- per piece- be it fried, or Bhapa. But in that pricing, the fish piece was pretty small. And in Kolkata, we get a much bigger piece at that pricing. And honestly, I didn’t like that.
- What I liked about Hilsa dish here: All the pieces had eggs and I loved that. In fact, they asked us about our preferences and served accordingly. And the taste was fantastic- not an overdose of spices and with good spice balance.
- What I didn’t like: The piece was small and I expected a bigger one at 220/- per piece
And the surprise
As Mir doesn’t like Hilsa, he ordered a mutton curry. And just after the first gulp, he asked me to taste the same. And in the next 5 min, 5 more portions were ordered. Mutton curry at Debur Hotel, Diamond Harbour was fantastic and one of the tastiest mutton curry, that I’ve tasted this year. It was beautifully spiced and cooked with mustard oil, on slow flame, for hours. That care showed in that dish. the pieces were not from a kid goat, and from the aged riyazi goat- which I liked. I just wished it had a couple of potato pieces, but certain wishes are not to be fulfilled, maybe. On the other hand, this was somewhat midway between a mutton curry and mutton Kosha. And that, maybe, was the reason for not having the potato there.
Overall, if you want to visit Debur Hotel in Diamond Harbour, it’s a very very good place and definitely recommened. But please check the size of the Hilsa piece, before ordering.
Finally, I’d like to say, diamond Harbour is a very good place for a day out. But if you’re planning to come for a Hilsa shopping experience, think twice. It’s not as cheap as we think and unless you’re very lucky, a good fish market at Kolkata will serve you better.
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