Goan Fresh Bombil Ambot Tik



Most are familiar with Bombay Duck which is popularly known as “Bomla” in Gujarati and “Bombil” in Konkanni and Marathi. The word “Crispy Fried Bombil” makes you start thinking of the crunch associated with this one when deep fried with rava / semolina coating or battered, crumbed and golden fried to perfection. Even the salted and dried ones are loved by many even though they emit a strong odour. There are innumerable coastal recipes to make them delectable to eat with slight variations throughout the Konkan belt. Have your tried my Crisp Fried Fresh Bombay Duck and Dried Bombay Duck Chilli Fry?

Every Goan will surely vouch for their special and unique recipes which is often a part of everyday meals; fresh and dried Bombil is shallow pan-fried, deep fried, dried ones cooked as a chilli fry. There is a vast variety of interesting spice pastes in Goan-Portuguese cuisine, Goan Saraswat cuisine, Mangalorean cuisine and East Indian community of Bombay / Mumbai for fish curries and sea food.

Speaking of curries, I think, Goan Fresh Bombil Ambot Tik is preferred to a regular curry with bombil. Some may differ but in my home we always made an Ambot Tik if we ever wanted to enjoy a curry with fresh Bombil. Sometimes, a simple non-spicy curry would be cooked for us; especially for kids and invalids.

Personally, I always preferred the fried ones to a curry. All attempts by my grandmother, mum and aunts would be in vain, trying desperately to get me to eat and relish a fresh Bombil curry. A curry with dried Bombil was welcome but never a curry with fresh Bombay Duck! My good neighbour would also try to convince me to eat her special preparation but I would not give in! I just did not like the extra soft and slimy fish in a curry but favoured the golden crisp fried with that awesome crunch. Before the kids came along, my hubby also preferred the fried ones and later given a choice, the kids too opted for the fried ones.

Recently, a month ago to be precise; I suddenly had a craving for the Fresh Bombil Ambot Tik! It so happened that we got carried away at the fish market when we saw very fresh Bombil. As usual, I segregated the lot according to size for the fried ones and at the spur of the moment kept a few aside for the sudden craving. We enjoyed the deep fried gorgeous golden beauties and proceeded to make the Ambot Tik just for me! J. I just took it for granted that the rest of the family would not want it. Well, the enticing aroma got to my hubby and he wanted some. Later, the rest of the family also wanted to taste. They all loved it and were really upset that I had kept them away from it all along. I did remind them that they always opted for the fried ones. Any ways, I have already made this drool worthy Ambot Tik thrice and I thought it would be nice to share with you. You may change your mind about a Bombil curry if you had apprehensions earlier and may enjoy it just the way we do. 🙂

Fresh Bombay Duck / Bombil is a delicate fish with a huge amount of water content and needs to be handled with TLC. It cooks very quickly in a curry and can disintegrate into the prepared curry very easily. It needs a gentle simmer and cooks in minutes.

Bombay Duck is very high in proteins, calcium and minerals. It has immense nutritive and health benefits. It is fine to fillet and take off the central bone if you intend frying it but in a curry it needs to be retained whole.

The texture of the fish is soft in a curry but the central bone has the crunch and can be chewed and eaten completely. It is a matter of preference. To get the benefit of nutrition it is better to consume the bone.

Many of us know,Ambot Tik is a sour and spicy curry or gravy where the essential ambot tik spice paste is included in traditional and classic Goan fish and sea food recipes. Shark Fish Ambot Tik, Squid Ambot Tik and Stuffed Whole Squid with Shrimp using the ambot tik spice paste are all our regular favorites.

In this recipe for Fresh Bombil Ambot Tik / Bombay Duck Ambot Tik, the fish absorbs the spice paste beautifully and is so delicious. Give it a try and your palate may crave for more just the way it did for us. 🙂

Super quick, simple, easy and tasty is what I like and this sure is a winner! 🙂


  •  6 fresh Bombil / Bombay Duck
  • 1 med. Onion (peeled & finely minced)
  • 3 tbsp. Ambot Tik spice paste or to taste
  • 2 tbsp. Cooking Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups Water or as needed

Pre-preparation of fresh Bombil / Bombay Duck:

* If using small fresh bombil; clean, salt, wash and use them whole and cut them into 2 or 3 pieces depending on size.

* Do not butterfly and debone fresh bombil if using for curry.

* Fresh Bombay Duck / Bombil is very easy to clean with your bare hands. The fins and heads come off easily with your fingers but only the tail needs to be snipped off with a pair of kitchen scissors or with a knife.

* If you love bombil either fresh or dry but hesitate to cook due to the odour, then just use simple kitchen remedies to do away with the strong smell. It can be a little intimidating as the odour is strong. You can eliminate the odour by tossing in lime juice. If you intend cleaning them yourself then you may use kitchen gloves. If using your bare fingers; do away with the odour by rubbing in some lime juice or use fresh lime peels after prepping them.

*Fresh bombil is slippery and a little difficult to handle if you are a novice. If your fish monger is willing to prep it for you; simply get it done. Chopping off the unnecessary with a knife takes off quite a lot of the essential flesh. You can request the cleaning without a knife.

Here’s how you do it yourself…

Peel off the fins and head with your fingers and cut the tails with a knife or kitchen scissors. Scrape off the scales if any with a knife. Retain whole.

Apply a little ¼ tsp salt, turmeric and a few drops of lemon juice if using. Set aside for about 15 minutes and wash well. Set aside.

For the Ambot Tik:

  1. Heat a sufficiently deep and broad wok / kadhai / pan with oil until hot.
  2. Reduce heat; and sauté the minced onions until transparent and glossy.
  3. Add the essential Ambot Tik spice paste and sauté continuously on low heat until rawness disappears and you get a fragrant aroma of the spice paste.
  4. Add water and bring to a rolling boil. The fresh Bombil release a lot of water while cooking so be careful and adjust if necessary.
  5. Reduce heat and further cook the ambot tik curry / gravy on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Gently slide in the reserved fresh Bombay Duck / Bombil into the curry / gravy.
  7. Cover and cook on simmer for about 3 minutes. Do not stir. The bombil has a lot of water content so it will cook in its steam.
  8. Put off the heat and let the Ambot Tik rest for about 2 -3 minutes before serving.
  9. Fresh Bombil / Bombay Duck is a very delicate fish so be gentle while serving.
  10. Can be served in individual bowls or serve over steamed Goa Boiled rice or rice of your choice. Can be equally enjoyed with rice bhakri, pao, bread, poee, broon, gutli pao.
  11. Enjoy your delicious Goan Fresh Bombil Ambot Tik / Bombay Duck Ambot Tik.
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  1. Made your Bombil Ambotika exactly as your recipe OMG it was just yummy 😋 I was lucky I got fresh Bombay ducks today ,Had it with our Goa red boiled rice.

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