J For Bombay Duck!

Now many of you may not have heard of Bombay Ducks. What kind of bird is that, you ask? It isn’t. It’s a fish! No kidding.  If you don’t believe me, read here and enjoy the popular story behind the origins of its name.

I used to so enjoy the dry, salted variety of this fish , until I moved to Mumbai and was introduced to fresh fried Bombay duck (also called ‘bombil’ in Marathi).  Traditionally fried in a batter of semolina and spices, this is absolutely delicious either as a snack or with rice and fish curry.


A very moist fish, it takes a lot of delicate handling to prepare. This is certainly beyond my cooking skills. In fact, in our home, all fish cooking/frying is left to José.  So is that why I said ‘J’ for Bombay Duck?  No.

Even José admits that frying fresh bombay ducks is beyond him.  So this is where another ‘J’ comes in most handy.  A few minutes walk from our house, in an area called Pali Naka, is Janata Lunch Home – a small, nondescript bar and restaurant.  One call to Janata and we get our fresh fried Bombay ducks home delivered.  A great accompaniment to our home cooked boiled rice and the traditional fish curry that José prepares.


Having Janata’s food – Bombay duck, fish biryani, prawn masala, sukha mutton – home-delivered,  I had  never entered the place. I had also seen the regulars staggering out of the joint post teatime! So I was sure I’d never want to go in.  But when someone told us that good old Janata Lunch Home had made it to Lonely Planet, I certainly wanted to see what made it special.

Last month, José and I ventured in for lunch. We quickly realized that cheap booze was the main attraction and the good food we had enjoyed so far was the second priority for the regulars. Since neither of us drink, we enjoyed our usual boiled rice with surmai (King Fish) curry and fried pomfret.  And most importantly we soaked up the atmosphere.  I refused to go to their air-conditioned room, since I didn’t want to miss the regulars in action! It seems they conspired to put up a show for me! I’ll leave out the details, since my Dad reads this blog, and may not be too amused. Suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the display of human drama.  😛

From all the listings and food blogs I read, I gather that Janata Lunch Home is quite the favourite with folks who work in the advertising and film line, because it’s the only place that supposedly serves booze (and cheap) at 2 am in the morning! I wouldn’t know and I’m not venturing to verify that!

So any time you’re feeling like fresh fried Bombay duck and  you’re in my area, let me know. I’d love to take you to Janata Lunch Home! 😉


Today we’re on J of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.


Photo Credit: fenography via Compfight cc

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About CorinneRodrigues

A Mumbai-based blogger, writer, motivator - journeying happily through midlife. I blog here and on Write Tribe and From 7Eight. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+


  1. Your post title intrigued me! Bombay duck is completely off the menu for me but Pomfret – now that is the best fish in the whole world!

    • CorinneRodrigues says:

      Wondering why Bombay duck is off the menu, Suzy? This is the fresh one and doesn’t smell! 😉

  2. How interesting a fish named Bombay Duck. I do not eat fish or any sea food for that matter. But you made it sound appetizing 🙂

    Cheers, Jenn

    • CorinneRodrigues says:

      Yes, that name always confuses people. I do know a lot of people who are not fond of fish – I too am quite particular how I like it.

  3. isnt there another “Mahesh Lunch Home” in mumbai. Its opened in B’lore now n there seems to be a popular following for it here

    • CorinneRodrigues says:

      Mahesh Lunch Home is overpriced and over-hyped, Meena. This one is almost a whole in the wall, but the food is good.

  4. It’s a date, Corinne. This time I am in Mumbai, we are eating at Janata Lunch home.

  5. I wondered what is it with j and Bombay duck
    It didn’t take much time to connect the dots
    Good to read a new cuisine
    U must hav had a gala time that day
    Please write a post on that too

  6. Wow .. the foodie I am this I must try !

  7. This Janata outlet sounds interesting …I had tasted Bombay Duck only once but my bong taste buds didn’t relish much 🙂

  8. Hi Corinne ! I love Bombay duck and pomfrets too. Our family loves exploring new places so if we come to Mumbai, we’ll try and visit this place. I remember my Mom used to prepare Bombay ducks the salted and dry ones and the whole house would smell of this fish 🙂

  9. I thought that the post would be about Bombay duck, but now I am intrigued about this Janata place!! I love going to small dhabas and hole-in-the-wall places rather than five star joints! Food and atmosphere are so much better there!

  10. Ah!!! Now i know how come J is for Bombay Duck. 😀 And how very intelligent it is I must say. 🙂

    Honestly Corinne i am more intrigued towards the details that you chose not to write. 😛

    I am craving Fish fry now and unfortunately it’s my fast today. My Bad! 🙁

  11. Never heard of such a food, but I love fried catfish. It looks great! Don’t you love food delivery? Some nights I’m just too lazy to venture to my kitchen or a restaurant:))

  12. loved the fun way you lead all of us in this post..was smiling throughout …unfortunately I am a vegan 🙁 …:)

  13. How I wish I was in your area right now! Sigh! I love fried catfish and Pomfret Fry.
    Mouth-watering post. I first learnt about Bombay Duck dish from a book titled “Bomaby Duck is a fish” by Kanika Dhillon.

  14. This post is more about Jose culinary skills than the Bombay Duck…:D Glad you relish the local food at the local eatery.

  15. How interesting. And so glad you have home delivery! 🙂 Lonely Planet is such a great resource!

  16. What a great twist on J! Sounds good even though I am not a fish fan. enjoy Janata’s to the fullest!

  17. I love bombil. I wish I could have some right now, along with fish curry and the parboiled rice you get in Goa.
    Lonely Planet is such a great resource!

  18. I agree with sridevi! I smiled all through this one! Thank you for the idea, should I ever find myself able to order this wonderful feast.

  19. Sounds like you had free entertainment while you and your friend enjoyed your fish!

  20. Fun article, you’ve got my taste buds dancing!

  21. Your post reinstates my love for the “Maximum city” – food of all kinds is the best in Mumbai and I did quiet some travel to qualify for that review 🙂
    You and Jose sound like such “made in heaven’ Jodi! Stay blessed.

  22. J is for Bombay Duck 🙂 that’s great and very creative way to get it in there…I’ve never had duck (at least not that I can remember, but in my older years I’ve probably forgotten quite a bit – haha). It looks likes a dish worth trying. Thanks for the inspiration to try something new.

  23. Calling a fish, “Duck,” might bring more eaters. Of course if I were the fish, I’d call myself liver.

  24. this just feels like one of those restaurants from the Amol Palekar movies ! 😀
    Your description of this place makes me want to go there so so so much ! 😀

  25. Thanks for teaching me something new Corrine. Sounded like a fun evening–if I am ever in Mubai…I will let you know.

  26. Oooh I want some fresh fried Bombay Duck. So I will keep your words in mind 🙂
    Human drama is always interesting. Sorry to have missed out on that 😛

  27. I must tell my daughter about this place. She just LOVES fish.

  28. I love BOMBAY DUCK…..it is such a fuss free fish! And Janta….the whole of Bombay swears by 🙂 Fortunately,my cook makes an equally fab preparation. But I’d still love to have lunch with ya!

  29. How fun to learn something new! I have never heard to this. Fun name that as you mention must really confuse people like me. Sort of like Chicken Fried steak (not chicken, but beef!). Luck for you to have a place to have a great lunch…

  30. This sure looks like a place which Kshitij would simply love! And he loves Bombay Ducks too 🙂


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