Sun-dried seafood dishes that you must try this monsoon

From thokku to hooman, sun-dried fish is the star of several regional dishes. Here’s a look at some of these delicious preparations

20 Aug 2021

Did you know that the rainy season is when many species of fish breed? This is why some cultures discourage the consumption of fish during the month of Shravan, which coincides with the monsoon season. However, it is a staple in several Indian coastal cuisines and the unavailability of fresh fish doesn’t deter people from enjoying their seafood.

Bombay duck, mackerel, prawns, and other varieties of fish are rubbed with salt and left to dry under the strong summer sun. The fish is turned around periodically to let the heat dry and sterilise it properly. Someone usually needs to stand guard during the process, waving off flies and crows that hover around the drying fish. Once the fish is properly sundried, it is packed and stored away in containers. This dried fish is enjoyed during the monsoons as well as on other days around the year.

Let’s look at some popular sun-dried seafood preparations from around the country.

Sukke bombil masala, Maharashtra

Bombay duck is called bombil in the coastal regions of Maharashtra. The curry is called sukke bombil masala in Marathi. To prepare this dish, the dried fish are first immersed in water and vinegar for a few minutes. This lessens the strong odour of the fish. It is then marinated with salt, turmeric, chilli powder, and kokum juice. The marinated fish is later slow-cooked in a paste of onions, ginger, grated coconut, cumin, garlic, red chillies, turmeric, coriander seeds, and carom seeds. The fish curry is often enjoyed with rice — another staple food of the coastal regions.

Galmbyachi chutney, Karnataka

This Mangalorean recipe is a popular condiment made from sundried shrimp (called galmbo locally). To prepare this simple chutney, the shrimp is first washed carefully, drained and dry roasted in a tawa on a low flame for a few minutes. The roasted shrimp is then ground coarsely with dried red chillies, cumin, turmeric, tamarind pulp, and grated coconut. This is usually topped with sliced onions that have been sautéed in oil till they turn golden brown. The chutney is served with piping hot pez or rice congee.

Endu chepala vankaya, Andhra Pradesh

A robust curry made of dry fish and brinjals, endu chepala vankaya tastes best when paired with steamed rice. The dish is prepared by cooking dry fish (which has been rehydrated in warm water) with onions, tomato, tamarind pulp, green chillies and turmeric powder. It is then seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves and urad and chana dal.

Sukya bangdyache hooman, Goa

This Goan curry has a unique taste because of the addition of Sichuan peppers, also called ‘tirphal’ or ‘teppal’ in Konkani. To prepare this dish, dried mackerels are first soaked in water for at least two hours. The head and tails are cut off and the bones are removed. Grated coconut, ginger, turmeric powder, tamarind pulp, black peppercorns, and dry red chillies are ground with tirphal. In a deep pan, fish pieces are sautéed in oil for a few minutes and then mixed with the ground paste. Some water is added to the pan and the curry is cooked for a few minutes, before being paired with steamed rice.

Nethili meen thokku, Kerala

This ‘thokku’ or pickle can be prepared from various types of dried fish, but anchovies are often a popular choice. This dish requires very few ingredients and takes hardly any time to prepare. To make the delicious thokku, dried anchovies are rehydrated in warm water, drained, and set aside. Chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, and chillies are sautéed in a pan for a few minutes. The fish is added to the pan along with turmeric, chilli powder, and some water. The mixture is cooked till it thickens, and is mashed a bit while it cooks. The thokku is allowed to cool and garnished with freshly chopped coriander before serving it with rice.

Do you know any other sun-dried seafood recipes? Tell us in the comments.

Seafood Indian fish seasonal food monsoon food bombil dried fish non vegetarian food