Having lived in New Zealand for over nine years, the only fish roe I had come across was Caviar – or what I like to call, ‘those yummy orange balls’. I was lucky enough to work at a high-end catering company which meant that every so often I’d get my hands on some of this delicacy while hiding behind one of the serving counters towards the end of the function.
What I hadn’t heard about was Gharab.
Doesn’t sound as appealing as ‘Caviar’ does it? Turns out, Gharab is Gujarati for fish roe, except that in India this refers to roe you find in a Bhing – also known as Hilsa or Herring – fish. Gharab can also less commonly refer to the roe found in the Boi or mullet fish too.
Anyways, once people found out I cooked Parsi food for a living I was beseeched with requests for making this age old delicacy called, Gharab nu Achaar. The name is pretty self explanatory in that this is a pickle made with fish roe, spices and the classic Navsari sugar-cane vinegar you will find in every Parsi household. There’s something about making pickles though that really scares me and so despite the requests I stayed far away from trying this one out, opting instead to simply fry my Gharab in some masala like my Ma-in-Law taught me.
Some time back however, my Bengali business buddy, Bonny (I couldn’t resist the alliteration) ordered some Hilsa at her home which came along with some giant Gharab. I was visiting her home the next day and she decided that today we’d conquer the Gharab nu Achaar. The original recipe we used was Thrity Aunty’s one that has been published on Zoroastrians.net and then we made a few tweaks to it like substituting the oil and adding mustard powder for added flavour.
While this pickle will happily stay in your fridge for a couple of weeks atleast, it is so tasty I doubt it will last in your home for more than two days (ours didn’t). While this pickle goes well with Dhandar, if you’re a true blue Parsi you can even have it with anything boring like vegetables of any kind for example.