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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  1. Afshan

    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

  2. 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 🙂

  3. Roshni

    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!

  4. 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! 🙁

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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…

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