A few lanes away from our home there lived a Marathi family. They were reserved and quiet, so we did not have much interaction with them. The only time we knew that something was happening in their house was when the mother would fry dry ‘Bombil’ or Bombay duck.
The smell would enter each and every part of our house and make us nauseous. And it would take a while for the house to smell like our house again. It would get so bad that there would be times when we would just get out of the house. My very vegetarian Punjabi mother who get terribly wound up and exclaim “Hai Hai marathian ne ghar sada dita hai” (Gosh, the marathi’s have destroyed the house).
And then I went and married a Marathi. A family that knew their Fish and made it well. Much to my relief the mother in law did not fry Bombil. However, she used fresh Bombil to make a delicious curry. It is amazing how when you open yourself to something new, you become a little more humble and understand that every cuisine has so much to offer. And hence it was in my Mother in laws very Marathi kitchen that I learned to appreciate the subtle flavors of this fish. Soft on the palette and bursting with flavors, the fish that I hated as a kid became my favorite as an adult.
The recipe is so simple that it is really a non-recipe. All you need to do is marinate the fish for 10 minutes and then cook it with a little water and you are done. Serve it with Rice and eat it with your Fingers and you will also fall in love with it.
Recipe (Cooking time 10 -15 minutes, serves 4)
6 pieces fresh Bombil
1 tbsp fresh or frozen, then thawed desiccated coconut
6 pieces of Kokum
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red chili powder
1 Green chili chopped
1 tsp fresh Ginger paste
1 tsp fresh Garlic paste
Freshly chopped coriander
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Clean and cut the fish into pieces. We make 3 pieces out of 1 fish. My mother in law also advised that one should remove the fin of the fish as it can cause an upset stomach. You can pull it apart with your hands.
In cooking, pan and add all the ingredients except the water and mix to ensure the fish has been coated well.
Leave for 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup water and mix well.
Place the pan on the gas and cook for 10 minutes or till the fish is done.
Serve hot with Rice or Bhakri (rice flour Rotis)