If anyone asks me about a melting pot in Indian Subcontinent, Mumbai will be my answer to it. Mumbai is the cosmopolitan city known for its many lip smacking dishes. The food is highly influenced by Maharashtra and konkan region and culture. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, Mumbai has a lot to offer to everyone. The varied assortment of dishes ranging from Pav Bhaji, Vada Pao, Bhel, Sev Pao, Bombay Duck, Pani Poori, Fish curry, Bheja fry, Kebabs, Masala Bhaat, Cutting chai and much more.
The Mumbai cuisine is influenced by varied cultures which have settled down over hundreds of years from different regions and have influenced and diversified its culture and cuisine. The staple food consumed is rice along with aromatic fish curries, vegetable curries and desserts. Coconut, cashew nut and peanut are some of the major ingredients in Mumbai food.
Street food is popular due to the large number of people who have moved from other Indian states for their livelihood. Thus street food becomes an easy and convenient place for them to dine and move ahead in the busy metropolitan city. The food available through-out is not only convenient but affordable for the masses to consume on a daily basis. On the other hand, Mumbai houses some of the best restaurants in the country with gourmet cuisine with star chefs churning our delicacies. Mumbai has something for everyone.
Being a coastal town with a long history of fish trade the city’s natives were “kolis” and “fisherman”. Seafood is an essential culinary must have that forms an important part of Mumbai cuisine. There are plenty of seafood restaurants in Mumbai that serve a large range of delicious seafood delicacies. You can savour amazingly fresh fish appetizers, grilled fish dishes, baked seafood, fish pickles and a lot more in the city of dreams. Some of the popular seafood dishes include but are not limited to Fish Koliwada, Surmai fish curry, Bombil fish fry, Prawn Tikki, Fish Thali and many more.
Talking about the chaat or street food selection, every nook and corner in Mumbai has food stalls and eateries offering hot, spicy, crunchy and fresh chaats. A favourite with the locals, chaats are tasty crispy, snack items that are comprised of ingredients like chaat masala, yoghurt, onions, coriander, sev, mango powder, ginger tamarind chutney, also chaat, dahi vada and so on.
Talking about the sweets in Mumbai, one of the most popular sweet dish is modak. Other sweet dishes include gulab jamun, laddoo, aamras, sheera, puran poli, shrikhand and many more.
The dish I will write today is a Mumbai local favourite and is called Bombay Dak/Duck. It is not really duck at all, but it is a type of local lizard fish. The fish is seasoned and coated in a layer of semolina, then deep fried. The result is a crispy outer edge but the fish remains creamy and oily on the inside. Bombay duck is a fantastic dish to eat in Mumbai and it goes particularly well with a full thali meal that includes rice, chapati and a variety of curries to enhance everything. I recently made this dish in my kitchen and it turned out to be an instant hit in the “dish of the day” at my restaurant.
Bombil fish is silver-white, slimy lizardfish found in abundance between Mumbai and the Kutch area, in the Arabian Sea. It is also found in the Bay of Bengal and parts of South China Sea. It gets its name from Bombay because it is found here in abundance and from ‘dak’ meaning mail. The story behind this name is uncertain but it has to do with the stinky smell the Bombay Mail train carried during the monsoon.
Bombil fish fillet 6- 8 nos.
Oil 2 tbsp
Red chili powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Chili paste 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Semolina/ suji 1/2 stp
Oil for frying
Rice as required
Salad as required
Wash clean and fillet the bombil fish and keep aside
Rub salt and lemon juice and keep refrigerated for 15-20 minutes
In separate bowl combine red chili powder, turmeric powder, chili paste, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and combine well
Put the prepared marinade to the fish fillet and keep refrigerated for another 30 minutes
Take semolina in a flat dish and coat the fish fillet from both sides evenly, pat the fish
Repeat for the remaining fish and keep aside
Have oil in a heavy bottom shall pan on slow flame
Slide in the fish fillet and fry till the colour changes to golden brown
Cook till the fish is cooked, remove the fish on absorbent paper to remove excess oil
Serve hot with choice of rice and salad and lemon edge on the side
Note: You can choose your choice of fresh water or sea water fish instead of Bombil. Any oily fish would taste great with this recipe. The next best alternate is the king fish.
* Chef Tarun Kapoor, Culinary Mastermind, USA. He may be contacted at [email protected]
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