Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fried Herring Roe

Tareli Bhing ni Gharab or Gaboli in Koli

In this past week the fish monger, no not a Koli but a Muslim from UP came to my door. His eyes shinning. I refused to buy and then he animatedly said Bhing ni gharab che! My husband does not eat gharab nu achaar so I asked him if he was interested in the gharab for a fry. He gave a nod, more than him I was excited about cooking with it.

As a kid I have enjoyed many a Gaboli as we Koli call it. It would be boiled or steamed with salt and turmeric. Then sliced up into roundels. Some times it would be fried after slicing. Mostly eaten as a side in a meal with rice and curry or rice roti. Ofcourse the Gaboli is smeared with salt and Koli masala and left to sit for 30 mins before frying.

The Parsis however don't boil it. They directly apply the usual jeeru lasan paste marinate it in the fridge for 30 mins and then fry it. They divide the gharab into chunks and enjoy it with rotli or pao.

What ever you do if you don't want a crumble like mess of the eggs don't cut open the sac when it is raw. Cook and then cut into roundels or chunks. My friend Sayantani who is a true blue  bengali tells me they infact open the sac and clean the eggs to free from membranes mash it and then make fritters out of it.

If you are from the coastal region gharab or gaboli / fish roe would be a delicacy you would have heard of if not tasted it. Yet for those who do not know, it is the ovaries of the fish. The ovary sac contains densely packed tiny eggs. They resemble grainy semolina or are rather like poppy seeds. This one you see here is of the seawater fish Herring in English or Bhing in Gujarati or Pala in Koli. The fresh water Herring is popular in Bengali and North Eastern cuisine as Hilsa or Ilish. In that region the fish is sliced across along with the egg and enjoyed in a curry or as a fry.

In season while the Parsis enjoy it fried, the Bawis are clever to preserve them as pickle to be enjoyed thru the year. The best time for Gharab is during monsoon and a couple of months after. Then its unavailable for the rest of the year. 

In the pic you see a chiffon saree with a Gara border.

When I had shared a snippet of it on FB my schoolmate Aban Setna educated me about it, "This is French embroidery. It probably looks identical on the reverse side. No one does it anymore. Cherish it!"

"These are Petit Point borders and were embroidered separately and had a backing. The backing is attached to the saree, the front side remains pristine. Ladies would make these in their spare time. The smaller the stitches and knots, the smoother and finer the finish. It is a lost art."

Its priceless for me. My MIL died in 2003. She wouldn't have imagined leaving this behind for me but I feel blessed to have received all her things and I cherish it with all my heart.

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