Foods Bangladeshis savour today – A blend of traditional and exotic ones?

SIRAJUM MUNIRA TULI | Friday, 25 December 2020

One weekend morning, all of a family may be having breakfast with ‘khuder bhaat’ (smoked broken rice) and various kinds of traditional bhorta – ‘kalijira’, ‘dhonepata’, ‘dim’, ‘alu’, ‘begun’, ‘daal’, ‘potol’, ‘roshun’, ‘shutki’ and ‘taaki machh’. There may be, in the list, some fresh onion and green chili to bite with each handful of rice.

Do you find this homely ‘food festival’ familiar? Why don’t you try a plate full of ‘panta bhaat’ with fried dark red chili and alu bhorta? Well, these are the foods many Bangladeshis usually grow up eating.

However, today, while a youngster may choose mushroom cream soup with wonton, a senior one may prefer halim or nihari with naan ruti. Children, juveniles, and youths may also like to try new and fusion types of foods that are quite different from regular meals. Ramen, for instance, which is a traditional Japanese food, and not quite familiar in Bangladesh, may be a choice for a few. The seniors would presumably go for well-known traditional foods which they are used to having, like biriyani or bhuna khichuri. Again, it’s not that the youngsters don’t prefer those traditional foods but they might often go for sushi or fish BBQ over shorshe ilish or chhoto machher chocchori.

New intakes

A new prominent street food of Dhaka is momo. It is a type of East and South Asian steamed filled dumpling, which is native to the southwest Chinese region of Tibet as well as Bhutan, Nepal, north Indian region of Ladakh, northeast Indian regions of Sikkim, and Assam. Not only has it a refreshing taste but also its less oiliness is making it more popular day by day.

A few other new or fusion intakes are wagyu beef (Japanese breed of beef cattle), calamari (Turkish dish of squid), panna cotta (Italian dessert of sweetened cream), meat box, poutine (a dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy), steak (grilled or pan fried sliced meat), churros (Mexican fried-dough pastry), peri peri chicken (Portuguese flavorful meat dish), cream of mushroom soup (commonly known in North America and made with cream and mushroom),tacos (small hand-sized corn or wheat tortilla topped with a filling), fried ice cream (made from a breaded scoop of ice cream that is quickly deep-fried, creating a warm, crispy shell around the still-cold ice cream), pho (a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, sometimes chicken), lasanga (wide, flat pasta, possibly one of the oldest types of pasta) , and macarons (a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond meal, and food colouring).

Local foods coming into light

But it's not that only international cuisines are getting well-known as a result of globalisation, a few local traditional foods are also spreading all over the country and becoming popular.

‘Kalai rooti’ is one of traditional foods from the northern region and has got revived recently in the other areas of Bangladesh. It is a special kind of bread made of black gram (mashkalai) and other flours, which is served with green chutney or begun bhorta (meshed aubergine). This northwestern food is getting popular in Dhaka and other cities as a street food.

‘Chingri shutkir achar’ from Bandarban, ‘chuijhaal’ from the southwestern region of Bangladesh , ‘kalabhuna’ and ‘mejban’ of Chattogram, ‘shatkora beef’ from Sylhet, ‘daaler bora’ from the northwest region, ‘beguner dolma,’ from Rajshahi, ‘menda’ from Mymensingh, etc. have already been spread all over the country and gained huge popularity beyond their origin.

An elderly person, who is used to having traditional Bengali foods and love spices, won't be disappointed having hot and spicy ramen. A youngster who likes boiled momos and prefers less oil in foods won't be disappointed either having khuder bhaat and varieties of bhorta.

Peri peri chicken is a dish suitable for both teenie and aged persons who love tangy flavouring condiment taste. Steak is one of those dishes these days which have a wide range of variformity from both sides of budget and taste.

If your Bengali taste buds ever liked ‘goja,’ ‘nimki,’ ‘bakorkhani’ or ‘balushahi,’ Mexican churros will surely not displease your sweet tooth. If you are a great admirer of fuchka or bhelpuri, you must try tacos at least once which consists of almost the same texture but tastes quite different.

The year 2020 has made us remind how much we hate boredom even if there is plenty of food to survive. Hence, different foods with different taste and scent have become a new source of entertainment for many. While traditional foods are part of daily life, people love to experiment with those fancy fusion foods that are growing familiar among foodies rapidly.

Sirajum Munira Tuli is currently studying English literature at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.

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