If you ask my husband what is one of the things he hates about being married to me, he would say it is my relationship with fish. It would be one topic which he must be regretting of not having a discussion on, in one of the letters which we exchanged as pen friends.
I don’t love fish. I do get along with certain species, cooked in a certain way, like my mother’s fish curry which has a perfect balance of saltiness and sourness which comes from the Garcinia cambogia or Malabar tamarind.
The colour of this marvel, slow cooked in earthen curry pot, varies from fiery red to vermillion or burnt amber, depending on the quality and texture of the chilly powder and the time taken for the perfect saute of the same in coconut oil without being burnt. I could never replicate the taste and just thinking of my mother serving raw Jackfruit cooked with turmeric and chutneyed coconut ( Chakka puzhukku) along with a generous amount of this divine curry is making me drool.
Chakka puzhukku and fish curry is an integral part of my domestic nostalgia, the times which I spent with my sisters and mother seated around a plate of chakka puzhukku with fish curry poured over it, everyone digging into it from different sides. It was always from single plate and never one for each.
My husband is from Cochi, the Queen of Arabian Sea. People from Cochi, think, eat, pray and love fish. I believe, Onam and Good Friday are the only days when they eat a pure vegetarian meal. Even their tomato gravy will have dry prawns floating in the yellow pool of coconut milk. Stir fried french beans will again have prawns bearing down on it. Unfortunately I don’t share this fish-filled enthusiasm and it makes only guest appearances on our dining table once in a blue moon. That too, when I feel extra benevolent to grant my husband his wish.
My younger son has contracted this disease ( as my husband would like to call it) 3 fold. If I don’t love fish, he literally hates fish. So everytime I put in on my menu, I certainly add vegetarian side dishes for him and me.
I can make varieties of fish dishes but a perfectly crispy fried Bombay duck with its figure intact, eluded me till now. I tried the coating with semolina and rice flour but the end result was never to my satisfaction.
Finally I got this recipe from Zulekha’s Kitchen. The trick is drying the cleaned and sliced pieces of Bombay duck between napkin and then coating them in dry mix of rice flour and a pinch of salt. I like the taste of green chillies in my fish fry, so I spiced up the mix with a bit of green chilly powder.
The fried fish looked lovely and perfect and I am admitting it without chagrin..”I love crispy fried Bombay duck.”