Bombay duck off the menu - for good

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The Independent Online
Louise Jury

It isn't duck, it isn't from Bombay and now it isn't over here. The European Commission has banned the importation of Bombay duck in a move likely to cause consternation at Indian takeaways countrywide.

Inspections of fish processing plants in Bangladesh, India and Madagascar showed "serious deficiencies" in hygiene levels and processing procedures, according to the EC.

So the commission has stopped imports of fishery products. These include the distinctive taste of Bombay (now called Mumbai) duck - which is in fact dried bummalo fish - until at least 30 November.

Iqbal Wahhab, editor of the curry magazine Tandoori, said the curry community would be indignant at this piece of European meddling. "Restaurants will be furious when they find out about this," he added.

Yet the British fondness for deep-fried Bombay duck is a matter of bafflement for your average Asian. They never deep-fry it - Bengalis cook it with aubergine and coriander.

Jetty Singh, of the Gitanjli-Mayfair restaurant in Ealing, west London, does not serve the pungent dish. But he said if the ban included all fish, especially prawns, from the three countries, it would affect business.

A Department of Health spokesman said the EC was responsible for policing the ban. "They have obviously found certain pathogens in these fishery products. It's not unusual. There are restrictions on some fishery products from Japan."

Fortunately, though, there is still more than enough on the shelves for Indian independence celebrations tonight.

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