From the Maharaja to the monks, everyone is fond of hilsa! Among them is the great Swami Vivekananda. Though Swamiji pursued religion throughout his life, he was unwilling to engage in religion while eating non-vegetarian foods. Therefore, even having had his last lunch throughout his life, he did not miss the Hilsa 'Jhol-Ambal-Bhaja'. An old verse says, "Hilsa fish is considered to be vegetarian." But Swamiji, even being a self-sacrificing monk, would forget the world if he got hilsa.
An incident heard from Vivekananda's biography says that once, Swamiji went to Gowland on a steamer. On the way, he saw a boat full of sliver Hilsa filled with fishermen's nets. Swami Vivekananda was very excited to see that. He ordered his companion, Kanai, to buy fresh hilsa. Kanai calculated and told him that if there are seven people in the group, buying three or four hilsa will be enough for everyone. Hearing that, Swamiji threatened and said, "We will eat, but what about the sailors of the steamers?" After that, on that day, sixteen hilsa were finally bought. Each fish costs four paise, so the total price came down to one rupee. On that day, Swamiji wished again and said, "It would be nice if there was 'Puishak', with steamed rice". They stopped the steamer near a village and brought rice and 'Puishak' from a villager's farm. Swami Vivekananda was happy to eat that 'puishak' with Hilsa fish and gave initiation to the Farm owner on his way back.
Swamiji always had a different type of attraction for Hilsa Fish. On July 6, 1901, Vivekananda wrote a letter to Christine while sitting at the Belur Math. He wrote, "Hilsha has risen in the river. Writing and watching. The waves are crashing on the house. Hundreds of fishing boats below are all busy catching." With a lot of praise for Hilsa, the foreigner also wrote to the disciple that "such a thing does not happen in the world."
The very next year, on that day, July 4, 1902, the first hilsa of that year was brought to Belur Math. Swamiji, seeing the hilsa, told his East Bengal disciple Sarachchandra Chakraborty to make the Hilsa Fish recipe nicely. Swamiji had lunch that day for the last time. Even on the day he left the world, he carried the taste of hilsa fish with him on his tongue. On that day, Swami Vivekananda had his last meal of satisfaction.