Crispy Fried Bombay Duck Recipe
First time I saw this Crispy Fried Bombay Duck recipe getting cooked on a television cooking show. What totally confused me was the fact that the lady was frying some small fish and continuously calling them Duck! Of course I got intrigued enough to google the mystery behind the name.

Turned out that bombay duck, also known as bumalo or Bummalow, is a small, semi-transparent fish that is found in the Arabian Sea. They can be eaten fresh, but more commonly, they are sun-dried and often have salt and asafoetida added to them. In fresh form, any wet method of cooking is avoided because it will turn this delicate fish into mush. The only suitable methods are to powder it with rice flour, perhaps with some coarse semolina for texture, and either pan fry it or deep fry it.

So what about the misleading name then? The popular story goes that when the rail links started in the Indian subcontinent, people from eastern Bengal began importing fish from the western coasts by the railways. The smell of the dried fish was so overpowering that it was transported later by the mail train; the Bombay Mail (or Bombay Daak) thus the name got stuck to the fish. But the story seems controversial as the Oxford English Dictionary dates “Bombay duck” to at least 1850, two years before the first railroad in Bombay was constructed.

Nobody in my family has a taste for dried and pickled fish so I always use fresh fish for this recipe. What attracted me to the recipe was the super simple method to make a very crispy coating for fried fish. And I have used this method to fry many different varieties of fish other than Bummalow. It works great as an egg free, two ingredients, crispy coating for fish fillet and even calamari.

4 Bummalo or any small saltwater fish
4 cloves garlic
2 green chilli peppers
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/2 cup rice flour
4 tablespoons semolina
Oil for frying

This Is What You Do:

Clean and pat dry the fish. Make slanted slits on the sides with a knife.

Pound together garlic, green chilli peppers, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt in a mortar with pestle or blend them in a food processor. Mix with lemon juice.

Rub the masala paste all over the fish, specially into the slits.

Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Mix rice flour and semolina in a plate. Roll the fish in flour mix to coat them completely in flours.

Heat oil in a frying pan for shallow frying on medium heat.

Fry 1 or 2 fish at a time. Over crowding the pan doesn’t give very crispy fried food.

Fry for 2-3 minutes or till they are golden and crispy on both sides.

Remove from oil and drain in a sieve for crispier texture. Draining hot fried food on absorbent paper makes it soggy.

Serve hot as a starter with some spicy chutney or as a main with vegetable side or warm salad.

Serves 2

4 Replies to “Crispy Fried Bombay Duck Recipe”

  1. Nice story!
    The Japanese sun dry fishes, too (we grill them afterward).
    It’s amazing how different cuisines use similar techniques for food!

    1. It is,right! The more I explore world cuisines, the more similarities I find. Just goes to show how nomadic our ancestors were! 😊
      Thank you for stopping by the blog,Kenta. 😊

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