Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mumbai cho bomil

On a recent Mumbai tour, we saw this fisherman at Banganga. Guess what he had in his basket?

Bombay Duck. Locals call it bombil, and the fisherfolk 'Mumbai cho bomil', but the British named it Bombay Duck, and that name has stuck.

So why did they call a fish a duck?

There's a theory going around that Bombay Duck is just a corruption of the Hindi 'Bombay Dak'. Bombay Dak (Bombay Mail) refers to the mail train in which the fish were transported during the British Raj. Another theory is that the smell of the drying fish reminded the British of the odour of the wooden railroad cars!

This fish is found only in the Arabian sea between Bombay and Kutch-Gujarat. A large part of the daily catch goes straight for drying, as there are scores of people who relish 'sukat' - dried and salted bombil.
If you take a walk on the beaches of Versova and Mahim, you can see rows of thin bamboo sticks wedged into the sand with salted bombils hanging by their tails, drying in the sun.

If you'd like a closer look here's another photo of this lizardfish. Not a pretty sight, eh?

- Satyen


Anonymous said...

Please use the corerect word as 'Bombil', in stead of 'Bomil'.

melroy said...

Fascinating post. Yeah sukkat bombil is one of my favourite fish especially when marinated with the correct masala.