Bombil (Bombay Duck) Pickle – Sukha Bomblache Lonche

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The house stinks! That’s what my sister says every time mom makes a bombil pickle. And it actually does. The East Indian Lonchey or Dry Bombil Pickle stinks when you put it together, but it tastes amazing, just like the mango amboshi.

What’s a Bombay Duck?

A bombil is definitely not a duck. A duck you can make a moile or a roast with, but with bombay ducks you can’t. By the way, did you know that the Bombil fish in English is called a Bombay Duck? Strange name isn’t it? But the Bombay Duck has been the English name of the bombil since 1850. Or so says the Oxford Dictionary.

Anyways the bombil is a tropical fish that has a funny mouth. Did I say funny? I meant looks like a cat glowering at you, except the sides of it’s face are missing. 

What are you saying ‘men?  

Isn’t that a good description?

Okay fine. The bombil or bombay duck is a funny looking fish.


No, seriously. I could have said more about the bombil being hung out to dry like the tooned uncles. But I guess I better not. Ehm! (For anyone who doesn’t know what tooned means, it’s a local word for intoxicated.)

Anyways, the bombil or Bombay duck fish is hung out to dry at many places along the Mumbai coastline and salted till it turns into sukka bombil or dry Bombay duck. And after that, it’s always stored in airtight containers because it has as much propensity to stink up a house as a beautiful smile does in lighting up a room.

Now there are a lot of recipes that come from the bombil or stink up the house as my siblings say. But let’s focus on the Dry Bombay Duck Pickle (Bombil Pickle Sukha Bomblache Lonche) today.

How to make Dry Bombay Duck Pickle/Bombil Pickle/Sukha Bomblache Lonche

Washing and Chopping the Bombay Duck

Bombil or Dry Bombay Duck - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
The Bombay Duck or Bombil fish grows to a foot in length

Did you know that the bombil fish or Bombay Duck grows to about a foot in length? So dad usually segregates them by size before we cook them. Some get used for the pickle, some for chilly fry, some just go into storage after spending a few hours drying in the hall or in the oven.

Dad segregates the bombil fish by size.
Dad segregates the bombil by size
bombil drying in the living room.
Bombil left out to dry
Drying the bombay ducks in the oven.
Drying the bombay ducks in the oven
Bombil or Dry Bombay Duck- Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Sun-dried bombil or bummalo or Bombay duck fish
Smaller pieces of sukha bombil fish.
Smaller pieces of sukha bombil fish

Chop the sun-dried Bombay duck or bummalo or bombloe or bombil dry fish into approximately two-inch pieces. And it hits you again, the dry fish bombil smell.

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Chopped Bombil or Dry Bombay Duck- Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Chop the Bombay Duck into pieces

After chopping the Bombay Duck, rinse it with water or vinegar and set aside.

Grinding the Masala

Red Kashmiri Chillies - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Red Kashmiri Chillies

Gather your red chillies. Or buy them nowadays. Kashmiri chillies taste better than other varieties in the lonche, while resham patti chillies give that added spiciness.

Ingredients for the pickle - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Ingredients for the pickle paste

Grind all the chillies together with jeera (cumin), haldi (turmeric powder), salt, cloves of garlic and a few slices of ginger.  In the olden days they would be ground on the patha but there aren’t many pathas left nowadays.

Use toddy vinegar to help you in the grinding, or if you are health-conscious or living gluten-free, use apple cider vinegar. (If you’re gluten-free, make sure your turmeric powder has a GF or gluten-free mark on it.)

The masala is quite similar to that of our vindaloo, isn’t it?

Grind the ingredients together - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Grind the ingredients together till smooth

Grind the pickle masala ingredients together till smooth. (Sometimes we leave it a little coarse since it tastes much much better.) Certainly, I tell ya.

Adding the paste to the bombils

Add the paste to Bombil - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Add to the Bombay Ducks and cook

Add the paste to the Bombay Ducks and leave the pickled fish to marinate for a few hours.

Bombil Pickle is ready - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate
Our funny smelling awesome tasting bombil pickle is ready

Add oil and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes. Cook it ‘men, cook it stirring occasionally. And soon, or rather in a matter of fifteen minutes, our funny smelling awesome tasting bombil pickle is ready.

Store in airtight containers and they’ll last for a long time. Don’t forget to send some to all your aunties and uncles for tasting.

This bombil lonche can be eaten just as a sukha bombil chutney or pickle or incorporated into other dishes, such as a dry bombil chilli fry. Just chop a few onions and chilly and fry it with the bombil and you’re sorted. The detailed Bombay duck chilli fry recipe is here.

How do you eat your sukha bomblache lonche or sukha bombil pickle?

Bombil Pickle is ready - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate

Dry Bombloe(Bombil/Bombay Duck) Pickle – Sukha Bomblache Lonche

East Indian Dry Bombloe Pickle is also called Sukha Bomblache Lonche or Dried Bombay Duck Pickle. This traditional Sukha Bombil Recipe is used both as a pickle and added to other dishes.
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Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Pickle, Side Dish
Cuisine East Indian, Indian
Servings 30 Servings
Calories 361 kcal
Dairy free icon on Abbysplate website.
Gluten free icon on Abbysplate website.
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  • 10 Dried Kashmiri Chillies Preferably Kashmiri, but any will do.
  • 2 teaspoon Cumin (Jeera) (Cumin)
  • 1 cup Olive Oil Any other will do.
  • .5 cup Vinegar Apple Cider works lovely if you’re gluten free, but any other will do for regular diets.
  • 2 in Ginger
  • 1 pod Garlic
  • 2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoon Turmeric Powder (Available Gluten Free if you require.)
  • 500 Grams Bombay Ducks (Sundried)


  • Chop the Bombay Ducks (bombil) in to 2 inch pieces.
  • Wash the Bombay Ducks in in water or vinegar and set aside.
  • Grind the chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, and jeera (cumin) together with vinegar. (Use apple cider vinegar and GF turmeric powder if you’re on a gluten free diet.)
  • Add the paste to the Bombil and leave to marinate for a few hours.
  • Cook the Bombil in oil on a low flame for 15 minutes.
  • Store in airtight jars and distribute to friends and family.  

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Stuff You Might Want to Use

King Arthur Baking - Country Bread Knife
Mixer Grinder – Food Processor
6 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Stainless Steel Spoon
700 ml or 1 litre Ceramic Barni For Pickles

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 20mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 46IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.

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Recipe pointers and Tips

  • If you prefer buy dried bombil that has already been cleaned – fins and head removed and tails cut off.
  • The masala paste is quite similar to the Vindaloo masala.
  • If you are health-conscious, you can use apple cider vinegar instead of toddy vinegar.
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FAQ’s About Sukha Bombil Pickle

What Are The Other Names For Bombil?

Bombil fish is called a Bombay Duck in English. It is known in Marathi as Boomla, Bumla, Bummalo, or Bombloe. A type of lizardfish, it’s also loitta, lote, lotiya, bumli, ushnish, bummili, and more.

What Are The Other Names For Dry Bombil Pickle?

Dry Bombil Pickle is also called sukha bomblache lonche, sukha bombil pickle, bombil aachar, suke bombil pickle or dry bombay duck pickle.

What Does Dry Bombil Smell Like?

Dry Bombay Duck or most dry fish smell like the ocean, salty. It has a very strong pungent smell.

Is Dry Fish Good For Health?

Dry fish is supposed to have some nutritional benefits, and bombil is a good source of calcium.

Where Does The Bombay Duck Come From?

It is found in the waters off the coast of Maharashtra, Lakshadweep, Bay of Bengal and can also be found in the South China Sea.

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4 thoughts on “Bombil (Bombay Duck) Pickle – Sukha Bomblache Lonche”

  1. it’s my favorite pickle. we usually buy it from the cold storage. they sell small bottles. but we tried to make it at home with a dozen bombil this time. it was good. next time we’ll make more.5 stars

  2. Yum, just thinking about the bombil pickle makes my mouth water. Absolutely love having it with some lentils and fresh hot rice. Especially good for a lazy afternoon lunch.5 stars


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