Don’t let the name mislead you. We’re not cooking ducks today. Bombay Duck is a fish that is sourced exclusively along the Arabian Sea which lies on the Western coast of India. They are an inexpensive but delicious fish. You will not get this on the Southern or Eastern coastline. So, this fish is enjoyed by Maharashtrians and people from the neighbouring states like Goa.
If you’re interested in a dose of history. A whole lot of Bombay is reclaimed land. It was an important port during the British era. So, Bombay city came into being and developed as a port for commerce and trade activities by the British. Yes, the first train blah blah – we were the first at everything because it’s been the financial capital of India right since those days. Apparently, the British really liked this fish too but anglicized it’s name for convenience. You see ducks stands for ‘daak’ which is post/mail and they were transported heavily during that time….from Bombay. So Bombay Daak aka package from Bombay, soon became Bombay Duck. And that is how Bombil came to be known as ‘Bombay Ducks’.
These fish are small to mid sized and their texture is extremely different from any other fish. They’re not firm. They’re very soft and flakey and the meat is a bright white colour. Of course, you can make several dishes with fresh bombils like curries, stuffed bombils and fried bombils. But these fish are dried in the summers and there are so many delicious dishes that can be prepared using dry bombils too. Today, I’ll show you how to make super crispy fresh bombils in your frying pan, without the excess oil and deep frying mess.
- 6 Bombils, washed and cleaned
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
- 2 tsp red chili/lal mirch powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mango/amchur powder
- 3/4 tsp garam masala powder
- 1/3 cup rice flour
- oil for frying
- 1 lemon
- Wash and clean the fish well. Keep a look out for small fish and prawns stuck in the intestines of the bombils as they are predatory fish and invariably, I always find some. Discard them. You can choose to debone or leave the center bone which is extremely flexible. It truly is a matter of preference.
- Put some weight or heavy object over the fish to drain much of it’s moisture. Leave for 30mins to an hour.
- Now marinate with all the ingredients I listed above except oil, lemon and rice flour.
- Leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Heat a skillet. Pour some oil in it.
- Simultaneously dip each piece of fish in rice flour and keep on adding pieces with sufficient space in between into the pan.
- Bombils absorb a lot of oil and release a lot of moisture. So there will be splutter and you require some patience to get these to become crisp.
- Once one side is done, flip over and fry the other side as well.
- Squeeze the juice of a lemon over all the fish and serve hot.
If you wish to cut the bombils into smaller pieces for ease of handling or pan size restrictions, you can do so. It does save some oil too.
I have an appetite for spice. So, please feel free to reduce the amount/variant of chili powder to suit your taste.
As you can see, I have used very little oil here. It tastes a whole lot better and becomes crispier with more oil. Choose your pick.
I hope you enjoy cooking and eating/serving this dish.
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