Bombil Fish: A Delicacy from the Coast of Maharashtra – Seaco Online
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Bombil Fish: A Delicacy from the Coast of Maharashtra

Bombil fish, also known as Bombay duck, is a popular seafood delicacy in India, particularly in Mumbai. Despite its name, Bombay duck is not a duck at all, but a type of lizardfish found in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

This fish has a unique flavour and texture that sets it apart from other types of fish.

A school of bombil fish darting through the clear blue waters, their silver scales shimmering in the sunlight as they gracefully glide through the ocean depths

The culinary profile of bombil fish is quite versatile. It can be used to make a variety of dishes, including curries, fries, and pickles. In Mumbai, it is commonly served as a starter or appetizer, often deep-fried and served with chutney or a spicy dipping sauce.

The fish is also a popular ingredient in Konkani cuisine, where it is typically cooked in a spicy coconut-based curry.

If you're looking to try bombil fish for the first time, you may have some questions about its anatomy and habitat.

Bombil fish can grow up to 40 cm in length, but the usual size is around 25 cm.

They are typically found in shallow waters along the coast of India, and are known for their distinctive appearance and texture.

Key Takeaways

  • Bombil fish is a popular seafood delicacy in India, particularly in Mumbai.
  • The fish has a unique flavour and texture that sets it apart from other types of fish.
  • Bombil fish can be used to make a variety of dishes, including curries, fries, and pickles.

Culinary Profile

A bombil fish sizzling in a hot pan, releasing a tantalizing aroma of spices and herbs, surrounded by colorful vegetables and garnishes

Bombil fish, also known as Bombay duck, is a delicacy in certain areas of India, particularly in Maharashtra. The fish has a pungent smell that intensifies after drying, but its crispy texture and delicate taste make it a popular ingredient in various dishes.

In this section, we will explore the culinary profile of bombil fish, including its regional variations, nutritional information, preservation and preparation methods, cultural significance, historical context, etymology and nomenclature, conservation and trade, and its role in global cuisine.

Bombil Fry Recipe

One of the most popular ways to prepare bombil fish is by making bombil fry, a dish that is boneless and crispy.

To make this dish, you will need bombil fish, rice flour, turmeric, garlic, chilli powder, salt, lemon juice, and oil.

First, clean the fish and marinate it with turmeric, garlic, chilli powder, salt, and lemon juice for 30 minutes. Then, coat the fish with rice flour and fry it in hot oil until it turns golden brown.

Serve it hot with green chutney, chapati, or rice.

Regional Variations

Bombil fish is popular in many regions of India, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bengal.

In Malvani cuisine, a coastal cuisine of Maharashtra, bombil fish is used to make a curry called bombilache patal bhaji, which is a spicy and sour dish made with green chillies, ginger, onion, and red chilli powder.

In Eastern Bengal, bombil fish is used to make a dish called bhapa ilish, which is a steamed fish dish made with prawns and pomfret.

In Gujarat, a dish called bombay duck fry is made by marinating the fish with salt and chilli powder and frying it in a wok.

Nutritional Information

Bombil fish is a good source of protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus.

However, it is also high in sodium due to its preservation method, which involves salting and drying the fish. Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Preservation and Preparation

Bombil fish is usually preserved by salting and drying it in air-tight containers. This method helps to preserve the fish for a longer period of time and also enhances its flavour.

Before cooking, the fish should be soaked in water to remove excess salt and then cleaned thoroughly.

It can be used in various dishes such as curries, soups, and as a condiment.

Cultural Significance

Bombil fish has a cultural significance in Maharashtra, where it is considered a delicacy and is an important ingredient in the Maharashtrian cuisine.

It is also mentioned in the Ramayana, where it is believed that Lord Rama used the fish as a bridge to Lanka.

In the British Raj, bombil fish was transported by the Bombay Mail train, which earned it the name Bombay Daak. Today, it is still a popular food item in certain areas of India and is served in many Indian restaurants.

Historical Context

Bombil fish has a long history in India, where it has been consumed for centuries.

It was also mentioned in newspapers during the British Raj, where it was referred to as Bombay Mail fish. The fish was transported by the British official Robert Clive during his conquest of Bengal and was used as a source of food for his troops.

Today, bombil fish is still an important part of the Indian cuisine and is enjoyed by many.

Etymology and Nomenclature

The name bombil fish is derived from the Portuguese word "bombaim," which means Bombay.

It is also known by various other names such as bummalo, boomla, bombail, bombili, and lote. The fish belongs to the lizardfish family and is scientifically known as Harpadon Nehereus.

Conservation and Trade

Bombil fish is a popular food item in many countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, and Oman.

However, overfishing has led to a decline in the population of the fish, which has raised concerns about its conservation.

The European Commission has also banned the import of bombil fish from India due to concerns about salmonella contamination. Therefore, it is important to consume bombil fish responsibly and support sustainable fishing practices.

Bombil in Global Cuisine

Bombil fish is also used in global cuisine, particularly in countries where it is available.

In Oman, a dish called machboos is made by cooking bombil fish with rice, spices, and vegetables.

In Indian restaurants around the world, bombil fish is served as a starter or main course and is enjoyed by many. Its unique flavour and delicate texture make it a popular ingredient in various dishes.

Anatomy and Habitat

The bombil fish swims gracefully among the vibrant coral reefs, its slender body glistening in the dappled sunlight filtering through the clear ocean waters

Physical Characteristics

If you are a seafood lover, you must have heard of the famous delicacy, Bombil fish. Bombil, also known as lizardfish, is a strange fish that can be found in tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific, including the Lakshadweep Sea, Bay of Bengal, and South China Sea.

It has a pungent smell and is quite bony, but its taste is worth the effort.

Bombil fish can grow up to 40 cm in length, but the usual size is around 25 cm. It has a slender body with a pointed head, small eyes, and a large mouth.

The fish has a silver-grey colour with a white belly. Its body is covered with small, rough scales, and it has a dorsal fin that runs along its back.

Geographical Distribution

Bombil fish are found in the Indian Ocean and are commonly caught along the Indian coast. They are also found in other tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific, including the Lakshadweep Sea, Bay of Bengal, and South China Sea.

Diet and Ecology

Bombil fish are carnivorous and feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other marine animals. They are an important part of the marine food chain and are preyed upon by larger fish, such as sharks and tuna.

In terms of nutrition, Bombil fish are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They are low in fat and calories, making them a healthy choice for seafood lovers.

Frequently Asked Questions

A school of bombil fish swimming in a clear, blue ocean, with sunlight streaming through the water, creating a shimmering effect on their scales

How do you prepare bombil for cooking?

Preparing bombil for cooking is a simple process. First, remove the scales and clean the fish thoroughly.

Then, cut the fish into pieces and marinate it with spices such as turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt.

Next, coat the pieces with semolina or rice flour and deep fry until golden brown. You can also pan fry or bake bombil if you prefer a healthier cooking method.

What's the typical cost for bombil in the market?

The cost of bombil can vary depending on the season and location.

In Mumbai, where it is commonly consumed, the price of fresh bombil can range from Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 per kilogram. Dried bombil is also available and is usually cheaper than fresh bombil.

Can you describe the flavour profile of bombil?

Bombil has a unique flavour profile that is often described as fishy and pungent. It has a soft and delicate texture with a slightly sweet aftertaste. The dried version of bombil has a stronger flavour and aroma compared to the fresh one.

What are the health benefits of including bombil in your diet?

Bombil is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and iron.

It is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy food option. Including bombil in your diet can help improve muscle development, heart health, and overall well-being.

Why might Bombay duck have faced restrictions?

Bombay duck, which is another name for bombil, has faced restrictions in some countries due to its strong smell and soft texture.

In the United Kingdom, for example, it was banned in the 1970s due to hygiene concerns. However, it is still a popular food item in India and other Asian countries.

What's an alternative name for bombil in international cuisine?

In international cuisine, bombil is often referred to as "Bombay duck."

It is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian and Chinese cuisine. It is used in a variety of dishes such as curries, soups, and stir-fries.