Okra With Bombay Duck

Okra with Bomay duck
Garlic, spice and dried fish
A popular bengali delicacy
‘Loita Shutki jhool’

Bombay duck, bummalo, bombil, and boomla is a species of lizardfish. Adults may reach a maximum length of 40 cm, but the usual size is around 25 cm.

Ever heard of Bombay Duck? It isn’t a duck, but a fish; and it isn’t found in Bombay, but pretty much all along the Indian coastline. Then why is it called Bombay Duck? I’ve come across two fairly reasonable arguments for it:

When the dried fish was transported by the Bombay Mail it became notorious for its smell. Dak being the Hindi word for mail, Bombay Dak (Duck) became the name of the fish.
Bombay Duck caught on because the native name Bombil or Bamaloh was too hard for the British to pronounce during their Raj.

Bombay ducks are high on protein. And, when they are dried, the protein content increases. It reduces risks of heart strokes due to the substantial level of Omega-3. They help prevent the buildup of cholesterol that can clog arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes.

When dried, deep fried Bombay Duck can be used as a starter. It is awfully salty, pungent smelling and crisp. It is quite popular at Indian restaurants in Britain served with poppadams. It has a strong, fishy and excessively salty taste with a brittle, crumbly texture.


10 Bombay duck trimmed, cleaned and cut into 3 inch lengths.
Tin of mackeral fillets in brine
2 onions finely chopped
3 fresh chillies chopped
1 fresh green chilli slit lengthways 2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
4 tbsp oil
6 garlic cloves cut into chunky lengths
2 tsp salt

Naga, scotch bonnet or hot pepper of choice but optional.


Take a non stick pan and add oil and onions let this sizzle for a few minutes.

Heat the oil
Add onions

Add the salt and chopped fresh chillies or hot peppers. Gently cook this on medium heat untill the onions have softened and gently colouring.
Cook covered until the oil is starting to separate. You should get a little colour in your onions.

Add salt and green chillies

Now add a quarter cup of water to further soften the onions and again wait till it evaporates and you have just oil separating.

Add some water
Cook covered
Untill oil separates

Next add spices, cook for a good minute stirring constantly.

Add spices
Cook for few minutes untill oil separates

Then add the mackeral and stir well and cook for a couple of minutes to break up the fillets and coat with oil and spices.

Add mackeral

Now add the bombay duck, okra and garlic chunks, mix well and cook covered for about 5 minutes stirring often.

Add bombay duck
Add garlic
Add okra
Stir well
Cover and cook for 5 minutes

Add a cup of water, stir and cover.
Cook on med/low until the okra is cooked, the bombay duck has become softer but both holding shape. Add the slit chillies. Stir gently and occaisionally.

Add water
Cover and simmer
Let water reduce
Let the oil surface

When the oil surfaces and you have a semi thick sauce, then the dish is cooked.

Semi thick sauce

The only way to serve it is with hot steaming rice!

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