Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal of my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.
What I was up to other than here:
- I can’t believe I’m saying this but literally nothing has been going on. I haven’t done a thing! I have been SO sick the last week (actually 10 days). I haven’t left the house except for medicine. I’ve got a bad cough, congestion, migraines, and even stomach aches. Ben is sick, too. We spent NYE on the couch watching Netflix. The worst thing is I’m still hungry (nothing kills my appetite) but I’m so stuffed up, I haven’t been able to taste food for a week.
- I did reach a really high goal I thought I’d share. This month alone I’ve had 636,000 people on my website. It’s pretty wild! I’ve been to sick to work this week and last week I had friends in town, so am relieved that the blog will do okay even if I don’t open my computer for a little while. I think this is the first real “break” I’ve taken in a while.
- I leave in two days for Telunas Resort, a private island off of Singapore. I am working with the resort to get some great images and write an article introducing them on the blog. It looks beautiful and I’m really excited to go. Fingers crossed I start to feel better. I’m doing this trip on my own, and it’s about 5 days counting travel days.
Now your story,
We were out at dinner with our friend, Babu, when him and Ben started talking about it being the smoked mackerel “time of the year”. I was clueless to this, but when I was on a trip last year, Ben and Babu had smoked some mackerel. We decided we’d do it again the next day.
The reason it’s this time of year is that after the crops are done, in India and other places in Asia, they burn the fields down. It leads to pollution and smog (like what happens up in Delhi on a massive scale) but here in Goa isn’t such a problem. I think it’s still pretty bad – but again, I’m living here and enjoying the culture, not trying to change that way they do things!
We rocked up at this random field and bar. In case you ever wondered, that Bolero jeep on the right is our car (along with the Omni which is broken down right now).
The first step is to get the mackerel and clean it. They wash it in tap water in a plastic bag and then clean out the insides of all the guts.
Next, they season with just salt – no other masalas so this isn’t the norm since usually in Goa and India they love to add all the spices they can and a simple curry could have 30 ingredients! But maybe they only added salt because it was men cooking in a field while drinking Kingfisher haha – they couldn’t be bothered to add anything else!? Regardless, the salt was all that is needed. Simple and delicious!
Once the fish are seasoned and cleaned, you have to wrap each fish inside a banana leaf. You then pile them up and they are ready to smoke! Time to burn down a field.
At first, they were walking around with a jig of water containing the fire, but then the owner explaining he was going to burn the field down totally next week but since it was drier than he thought and burning well, he would just let the fire go. We’re like “okay….” but were nervous it would spread. This fire took over the field in 20 minutes. They did end up walking the perimeter of their land and putting out the fire so it stopped.
I made Ben take a picture with me while we waited. We only have like 10 pictures together in all these years, and they are all really random so why not one in front a smoking field, haha!
Once the fire is out, after about 30 minutes, the fish is ready and you have to get it out of the ashes.
The fish is really tasty with the smoky flavor. I don’t think I had tasted smoked fish before this and really liked it. The smoke and debris were all over us and it’s like a million degrees outside but it was still worth doing it. We spent the afternoon chilling out with Babu’s friend and thanking them for cooking for us!
From what they said, this is a Goa thing and you won’t see it other places on the coast. They only do it this time of year when they burn down the fields. When I shared about this on Instagram, my Indian followers, even a few Goan ones, hadn’t seen fish cooked like this! I told Babu he should start letting tourists come do this and charge for it – but then that’s bad for the environment so maybe not a good idea!
This is India!
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