Now many of you may not have heard of Bombay Ducks. What kind of bird is that, you ask? It isn’t. It’s a fish! No kidding. If you don’t believe me, read here and enjoy the popular story behind the origins of its name.
I used to so enjoy the dry, salted variety of this fish , until I moved to Mumbai and was introduced to fresh fried Bombay duck (also called ‘bombil’ in Marathi). Traditionally fried in a batter of semolina and spices, this is absolutely delicious either as a snack or with rice and fish curry.
A very moist fish, it takes a lot of delicate handling to prepare. This is certainly beyond my cooking skills. In fact, in our home, all fish cooking/frying is left to José. So is that why I said ‘J’ for Bombay Duck? No.
Even José admits that frying fresh bombay ducks is beyond him. So this is where another ‘J’ comes in most handy. A few minutes walk from our house, in an area called Pali Naka, is Janata Lunch Home – a small, nondescript bar and restaurant. One call to Janata and we get our fresh fried Bombay ducks home delivered. A great accompaniment to our home cooked boiled rice and the traditional fish curry that José prepares.
Having Janata’s food – Bombay duck, fish biryani, prawn masala, sukha mutton – home-delivered, I had never entered the place. I had also seen the regulars staggering out of the joint post teatime! So I was sure I’d never want to go in. But when someone told us that good old Janata Lunch Home had made it to Lonely Planet, I certainly wanted to see what made it special.
Last month, José and I ventured in for lunch. We quickly realized that cheap booze was the main attraction and the good food we had enjoyed so far was the second priority for the regulars. Since neither of us drink, we enjoyed our usual boiled rice with surmai (King Fish) curry and fried pomfret. And most importantly we soaked up the atmosphere. I refused to go to their air-conditioned room, since I didn’t want to miss the regulars in action! It seems they conspired to put up a show for me! I’ll leave out the details, since my Dad reads this blog, and may not be too amused. Suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the display of human drama. 😛
From all the listings and food blogs I read, I gather that Janata Lunch Home is quite the favourite with folks who work in the advertising and film line, because it’s the only place that supposedly serves booze (and cheap) at 2 am in the morning! I wouldn’t know and I’m not venturing to verify that!
So any time you’re feeling like fresh fried Bombay duck and you’re in my area, let me know. I’d love to take you to Janata Lunch Home! 😉