Preparing Gaboli (गाभोळी) aka Parbhi Caviar…

So here’s the deal – somewhere in the middle of the Mumbai monsoon (around mid-July)… The West Coast Hilsa aka Bhing / Paala makes an appearance in the Mumbai fish markets.

The Parbhus not unlike fish loving Bengalis are fond of their Bhing (which we use to make a sweet-sour curry aka Aatle)

The pièce de résistance however is the gaboli! 

Gaboli is the local (Marathi) name for fish roe… The fish roe commonly used in PP households are from any of the following –

Pomfret (सरंगा), Bombil, Ghol, Rawas, Surmai each of which have a unique flavour and last but not the least the Bhing / Palla Gaboli which is the tastiest of all. 

The Pomfret (spawn in the summers) and Bombil (spawning in the monsoons) Gaboli are usually not sold separately… They’re usually in the fish and you gotta keep your eyes open when your fisherman / woman are cleaning them for you (lest you find they’ve been discarded along with the entrails or worse – set aside for their own consumption)…

Hypercity (at Goregaon) usually sells these separately – you’ll invariably find some Rawas or Surmai Gaboli in stock if you enquire at the fish counter…

Rinse the Gaboli under running water and transfer to a microwaveable container. Make sure the container is large enough to accommodate the entire Gaboli. If it gets too crowded in there, chances are it may burst open while cooking and disintegrate… 

The opened disintegrated version is used in Koli style curries. As for PPs, we prefer ours intact.

Crush around 5-6 cloves of garlic and rub into the Gaboli… Add salt to taste, a tbsp of oil, half a tsp of haldi, 1 tsp of Kashmiri red chilli powder and 1tsp of PP style methkut masala. 

Add around 1/4 cup of water and mix these well.


Cover the pan and microwave for around 6-7 minutes on the lowest possible setting. You’ll find that the sac has lost it’s squishy form and become almost hard. (mind you it’s still a pretty delicate affair)

 Cool completely and cut these into 1/2″ thick slices. These are now ready to use…  
Note the uniform colour across the sliced roe. If you see the centre is jelly like – you need to cook slightly longer… Tastes quite disgusting if it stays raw.

These slices may now be used in a Parbhu style methkut curry or coated in some more masala, dabbed in a thin layer of rice flour and pan-fried for a couple of minutes in some oil over a non-stick tawa.

Both versions taste simply divine with some steaming hot rice! 

You could choose to steam the Gaboli instead of using the microwave (slotted vessel over boiling water). The cooking time will be slightly longer with the steaming method.

The cooked slices can be stored in a freezer and used when required. I find they store better cooked rather than raw. 

Will post a follow-up with whatever I end up making with these… 

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