Saturday 26 October 2019

Boomla ~Bombay Duck Fish

Boomla | Bombay Duck Fish


The name Bombay Duck Fish was a mispronunciation by the British of the local Bengalis referring to the boombils announcing its arrival by mail trains from Mumbai as Bombay Daak Fish. Oblivious to the local language of daak being mail, it soon turned to duck!

 Boomla - Bombay Duck or Lizard fish, is a huge Parsi food speciality. Most colonial clubs in Mumbai serve this on their menu. It is a Sunday brunch ritual in many Parsi homes and quite the delicacy requested by Parsis returning home on holiday. 

My family in the fish trawling business shared tales of how this fish used to be thrown back into the Arabian Sea as there was no demand for it from anyone except the Parsi community! It was not an exportable product, nor of much value locally. And yet, within the tribe, we all embrace it as a firm favourite.
It has to be fresh, it has to be fried and, most importantly, it has to be crisp!!

Our love for fish began in the Persian Gulf and continues through the Arabian Sea and beyond. The methods over decades and generations have amazingly remained the same: washing the fish in vinegar, applying a few spices, and dredging it in seasoned flour before frying it to be crisp.

Freshly fried Boomla or Bombay Duck fish.

Serves 6 

I.5 kg/ 3.3 lb Bombay ducks/ boomla/ lizard fish
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup semolina
1 cup wheat flour
Oil for frying

Wash and drain the fish. Rub it with a teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle it with red chilli and turmeric powders. Leave it for an hour to marinate.

When ready to eat, heat oil in a frying pan
this is shallow frying so just use enough oil to cover the base of the pan. In a shallow bowl or thaal, mix the semolina and wheat flour, sprinkled with salt. Take each fish and dredge it in the mixture. Shake off the excess flour and pan fry over a medium high flame for 2 minutes on each side, turning only once.

Serve this with an abundance of lemon wedges, fresh coriander, and raw finely sliced onion. Some people also swear by having fried green chillies with their boomla

Warm crusty bread is its best accompaniment.


Refrigerate the fish if there is more than an hour before frying it; but bring it to room temperature before you start. 

The oil must be hot before frying or the fish will absorb all the oil and become soggy.

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Photo Courtesy Kainaaz Patell

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