East Indian Bombil Pickle (Sukha Bomblache Lonche)

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 East Indian Dry Bombil Pickle stinks when you put it together, but it tastes amazing!

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 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 air tight 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 like my siblings say. But let’s focus on the Dry Bombay Duck Pickle or the East Indian Bombil Pickle or the Sukha Bomblache Lonche today.

Dry Bombay Duck Pickle or East Indian Bombil Pickle or Sukha Bomblache Lonche

Bombil or Dry Bombay Duck - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
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?

Bombil or Dry Bombay Duck- Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Sun dried bombil or bummalo or bombay duck fish

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

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

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


Red Kashmiri Chillies - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
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 TheWingedFork
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 a vindaloo, isn’t it?

Grind the ingredients together - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
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.

Add the paste to Bombil - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
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 TheWingedFork
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 a long time. Don’t forget to send some to all your aunties and uncles for tasting.

East Indian 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.

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

Bombil Pickle is ready - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

East Indian Dry Bomblo Recipe (Bombil Pickle – Bombay Duck Pickle)

The East Indian Dry Bomblo Recipe or the Sukha Bombil Recipe or the East Indian Dry Bombay Duck Recipe is a traditional East Indian recipe that finds use both as a pickle and in many a food dish.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Pickle, Side Dish
Cuisine: East Indian, Indian
Author: Abby


  • 10 Dried Red Chillies Preferably Kashmiri, but any will do.
  • 2 tsp 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 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric Powder (Available Gluten Free if you require.)
  • 24 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.  
Dry Bombay duck or Bombil Pickle - By Abby from TheWingedFork
East Indian Traditional Dry Bombay duck or Bombil Pickle recipe - By Abby from TheWingedFork

Post Author: Abby

I'm a foodie and travel blogger, still making my way out of the daily 9-to-5, or 9-to-7 rather. But I make time to travel as often as possible. I've travelled across parts of Europe and Asia, and love writing about my experiences with people and cultures. And naturally, I love food, wine and travel, and have an endless bucket list of places to go to, and experiences I must blog about. My favorite things - nice rainy days, the smell of cakes in the oven, playing in the snow, glasses of wine and dark chocolate.

1 thought on “East Indian Bombil Pickle (Sukha Bomblache Lonche)


    (24th October 2018 - 8:00 PM)

    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.

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