The fish, a Bong delicacy, is now amiss from most restaurant menus after its price soared four-fold from Rs 300-400 to as much as Rs 1,500.
Reason: the catch fell almost eight times this year — from 4,570 tonnes to 650 tonnes — due to overfishing in Bangladesh. While some restaurants have altogether stopped serving Hilsa, others are charging a premium for it. Poribeshon restaurant in Noida and Assam Bhawan in Chanakyapuri have, for instance, taken the fish off their menu. Maa Tara hotel in CR Park is serving Hilsa only on advance orders, at a rate 15% above the normal. City of Joy in Alaknanda is charging 30% higher for all Hilsa items. "We were forced to hike the price but it’s better than not serving it at all, because it’s a matter of prestige for Bengalis," says the eatery’s Debojyoti Roy.Ki Hyangla in Gurgaon and Banga Bhawan on Hailey Road have also spiked the rates. Ki Hyangla is serving a single bigger piece instead of two in a plate as it usually would.
The owners are contemplating raising the price further. Banga Bhawan, which till a month ago was serving an entire Hilsa meal complete with lentils, rice and fries apart from a Bhapa Ilish (baked Hilsa in mustard gravy) at Rs 270, is now offering just two Hilsa pieces without the usual accompaniments at Rs 300.
The only exception is Oh! Calcutta in Nehru Place, which gets its supply straight from Bangladesh.