Madiha Athar Khan
If you come to Bangladesh, one department that is sure to enchant you, among many, is that of our desserts. We make and eat a variety of sweetmeats which we call “mishti” that literally translates to sweet in English. Clearly, we love sweets and different regions are famous for varieties of them. If you have a sweet tooth, travel to these places for their sweets alone, if for nothing else, although it’s definitely worth mentioning the scenic beauty of these areas and the unending hospitality of the locals.
In southwestern Bangladesh, along the border with West Bengal, lies Satkhira district under Khulna division. If you visit this area, not only will you be able to experience the world’s largest mangrove forest and World Heritage Site – Sundarbans, but also be able to taste the mouthwatering sweet “Shondesh” that is popular in this region. The main ingredients for this sweet are sugar and chhana. Chhana is made by curdling the milk and retrieving the whey. It is easily made by mixing the chhana with sugar over low heat. Upon cooling, the mixture is pressed into square or round shapes. Different kinds of Shondesh can be found, some of which are discussed below. The most popular kind is soft and moist and the different variations of it depend on the heating of the mixture to different extents. Cardamom is often added for fragrance.
Comilla for Roshmalai
To the south of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, is Comilla – a small town, the nooks and crannies of which are buzzing with sweet shops that are famous all across the country for Roshmalai, a household must have for pretty much every dinner or gathering. If you break down Roshmalai, you get syrup for “rosh” and cream or the thick layer of cream that floats on top of pure milk for “malai”. If you buy a box of this delicacy, you’ll get small oval shaped balls made out of the “malai” which is made concentrated by continuous heating and then submerged in heavy, sweet and milky sugar syrup.
Naogaon for Pera
In northern Bangladesh, under Rajshahi division is the district of Naogaon. This region can be said to be notable for its Patisar village that housed Rabindranath Tagore’s family zamindari home and for the sumptuous sweet that is popularly made locally, Pera. Pera is a variation of Shondesh. This delight for your tastebuds is a harder and drier form of the Shondesh which makes it consumable as a snack and also fit for carrying. You could even take a box or two of them in your luggage back home!
Tangail for Chomchom
In central region of Bangladesh, lies Tangail which is the largest district under Dhaka division and the second most populated district after Dhaka. Aside from being famous for the traditional hand-loom sarees, Tangail’s chomchom is a sweet to die for. Unsurprisingly, Tangail’s (especially Porabari union’s) chomchom has been famous in the Indian subcontinent since the British rule.The main ingredients are flour, cream, sugar, saffron, lemon juice, and coconut flakes.While the outer part is solid, the core is made out of thick and sweet syrup.
Bogra for Doi
“Mishtidoi” or sweet yogurt is a sweet delicacy that Bangladesh is famous for all over the world. However, the one specially made in Bogra, a district in northern Bangladesh, is said to have premium taste and quality, made from fresh cow milk. Legend has it that a man named Gouro Gopal Chandra Ghosh migrated from India to Sherpur area of Bogra, whose profession was to produce dairy products and that it was he who created the recipe for Doi and started selling it as a dessert.
As you travel around Bangladesh, we invite you to delve into our culture, heritage and nature and gift yourselves a fabulous time. We hope that all the sweets that you come across in your travels act as the icing to the cake of your adventures!