Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Say Hello to the Bombay Duck and the Pomfret

No matter where we live, we've often come across varied recipes for fried fish. Here are two fishes that are essentially part of the Mumbai region (once called Bombay) in Maharashtra, India, and are identified with its cuisine (although their names seem to be something out of Alice in Wonderland). I've been feeling very overwhelmed by the different climate, familiar cooking smells, favourite foods...returning to the city after a year, picking up where I left off with family, friends, relatives, all the important people in my life...I lost track of time and didn't realise how soon three weeks sped past and I realized guiltily that I haven't updated my blog yet.

I have been eating great food although not snapping pictures half as fast, hence the delay in my posts. The first thing I would love to introduce you to is the Bombay Duck which is not a duck at all but the fleshiest fish - you can eat it whole...bones and all (after taking away the head and other not so edible portions)! Take a look...

Bombay Duck

The best way to eat it is fried - remove the head, fins and tail, smear the flesh with a spice mix (turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, ground ginger paste, salt), coat it with Indian semolina (to the semolina, add a little salt and a pinch of asafoetida [optional]) and shallow fry it. Yum cubed!

Salted and Spiced Bombay Duck

Another favourite of mine is pomfret, another Mumbai speciality. I missed snapping a photo of the whole pomfret but you will find images on google. The fish sellers cut them up into slices. Add the same spice mix and coat with semolina and shallow fry.

Salted and Spiced Pomfret Pieces

I helped my mother prepare these two different fishes with the same recipe. There is a definite difference in taste because of the two different types of fish but they are both very, very delicious. Can be paired with just about any kind of drink - whether white wine or tequila, even.

Platter of fried Pomfret and Bombay Duck (the fried Bombay Duck pieces look like chicken tenders)

I also made a prawn (shrimp) curry with coconut gravy paired with white rice for a lovely, lazy Sunday noontime meal. Even more delicious if its raining outside.

Coconut Prawn Curry
I spent many more afternoons eating similarly prepared fishes. I've noticed a change in flavours - my mother adds ginger but my mother-in-law adds garlic paste and tamarind to the spice mix and skips garam masala. The fried fish always tastes amazing though! It's one of my favourite Mumbai dishes.



  1. She's baaaaaaaack! :)

    Your title really threw me off, I was expecting duck, not fish... ha ha! ;) And in the end they look like delicious chicken tenders... it's a meal with an identity crisis (lol), but it looks so good... YUM!

    I'm so glad you're having fun visiting family and friends.

    1. I missed starting the post with I'm baaaaaaaack! :)) Yeah, its definitely a fish with an identity crisis, everyone hearing its name for the first time is nonplussed. That was a great meal and there are many more to come. I'm travelling to a city neighbouring Mumbai called Pune. This is a city that is just as fanatic about preserving its traditions as much as being on the global scene.

    2. Pune sounds fantastic! I can't wait to hear more about your travels and the fantastic food you eat.

      P.S. Thanks for recommending the author Joanne Harris. I loved the movie Chocolat, but never actually read any of her books. I'm adding these to my library list. :)

      I really love Life of Pi. It is such a gripping tale and so out of the ordinary.


  2. I have never tried Bombay Duck (its funny how they named the poor fish- so totally misleading!) And I love coconut prawn curry. Are you back or still enjoying India? I don't blame you for being absent from the blog. I do the same when I am in India- there's always so much more to do when you are there.

    1. Yes, and my vacation's ending soon! There are a lot of recipes to try when I'm back which will keep me pleasantly occupied.

  3. Just dropped by to see what you were up too. You must be busy with all the traveling! Hope you're having a great time :)

    1. Too true :) and thank you, yes I'm having a great time re-experiencing things, a festival, great street food, comforting home-cooked meals....sad that its gonna end soon but looking forward to cooking in my own kitchen the minute I'm back.

    2. So glad to hear you're having such a great time. Bummer to have to come back to reality... lol! Although sometimes it is nice to have the comforts of home again. Can't wait to see what you whip up in your kitchen when you get back.

      P.S. Let me know how the turtle cake recipe works out for you if you give it a try.