Monday, March 19, 2018

Birds of Bangladesh

Birds of Bangladesh

The bird is one of the most beautiful creatures of a country. Their sound, color, appearance and behavior are so amazing that none can stop loving them. The Kingfisher, dove, finches, robin birds etc. are the most exotic birds. They have friends, family and human community to take care and save them.
Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis): Magpie Robin is a beautiful and mild natured common bird of Bangladesh, locally known as Doyel. They are largely found in rural and urban areas of the region. Mainly it lives on insects. It is the National Bird of Bangladesh.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): The house sparrow is a common bird of Bangladesh. It is abundantly found in rural areas. It lives on insects and food grains. It makes nests in straw made houses for breeding.
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis): Myna is one of the most popular bird in Bangladesh. It is widely known as a talking bird. It can copy the voice of a man. It lives on insects, ripe fruits and food grains. It is mostly found in the domestic areas, field and on the bank of rivers.
Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius):  Tailorbirds are small birds widely found in Bangladesh, commonly known as songbird, found in the forest and gardens.  They are usually brightly colored with green, gray and yellow-white. They have short rounded wings, short tails and strong legs and long curved bills.
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus): The black drongo is a small black bird with a distinctive forked tail. It has aggressive behavior towards larger birds. It mostly lives on insects and found sitting on the trees, cows, goats and buffaloes.
Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus): This is a very common bird in Bangladesh, largely found in the hilly areas, forests, domestic areas also on the small trees around the ponds. It lives on fruits and small insects.
Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striata): The babblers are gray colored bird live in a small group of six to twelve in numbers. They are also known as seven brothers, found everywhere in Bangladesh.
White-Breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrensis): The kingfisher is commonly found sitting on the tree by the side of the river or pond. It lives on tiny fish. It has a white throat and red bleak.
Purple-Rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica):  They are tiny at less than 10 cm long. The purple-rumped sunbirds are a common resident breeder in Bangladesh. They are found in a variety of habitats with trees, including scrub and cultivated lands and are usually absent from dense forest. They are active in flitting around and making a quiet chirping noise.
Rufous Tree-pie (Dendrocitta vagabunda): The rufous Tree-pie: It is a member of the crow family. The bird has a brown & gray body and a long tail. The bird is commonly found in agricultural areas, gardens and bamboo forests.
Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus): The golden oriole is also one of the most popular birds in Bangladesh. It has yellowtail and is well known for her sweet melodious voice. It is found over the big trees near the human habitation. It sings in different voices in different seasons.
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Friday, March 9, 2018

Armenians in Dhaka

Armenians in Dhaka
Pogose School
The Armenians most probably came to Bengal before any other European merchants and played an important part in the export-import business of not only Bengal but also the whole of India. But, it was in Bengal where they were most active. They reached Bengal-Bihar in the early 17th century if not earlier, as there are inscriptions (now preserved in Kolkata Museum) which were found in Bihar dating from the 1630–1640s.

The Armenians settled in present day Armanitola—the name of the locality still bearing reminiscences of their presence. They were at first a small community but were unmatched in textile trading, and in some cases had monopoly in the saltpetre, betel nut, opium and salt trades. According to John Taylor (who was the Commercial Resident of Dhaka in 1800), in 1747, Armenians were the largest exporters of cloth from Dhaka, far ahead of English, Dutch or French. With their profits and huge resources, they became very influential and rich; their affluence resulted in the construction of a church of their own and other private mansions.

©Sakib Ahmed

The Armenians were famous as merchants from ancient times and their guiding philosophy was to get involved with any business which brought profit. They brought the jute business here in the second half of the 19th century and were pioneers in the jute trade. Names of 12 eminent merchants of Bengal engaged in jute trading in Dhaka and Narayanganj in the late 19th and early 20th century can be found. Some of the most prominent were Abraham Pogose, Margar David, J C Sarkies, M Catchatoor, A Thomas, J G N Pogose, Michael Sarkies and P Aratoon. Among them, M David & Co sometimes bypassed Kolkata to export jute directly to London through Chittagong. They owned 12 motor launches for carrying goods. Other than the jute trade, Armenians were also involved in internal trading and local logistical support because of their huge trade network.

 ©Dhrubo Alam

The Armenians were always in competition with the English so they had to explore many businesses and at one time they even started to buy Zamidaris, unlike in other places in India. There were only three Armenian zamindars between 1836–38, paying more than 1,000 rupees a year, but their number grew rapidly in the latter half of that century. Families of Michael, Sarkies, Aratoon, Stephens, Lazarus among others became zamindars. Khoja Michael, Aratoon and Lucas were the zamindars of South Shahbazpur (Bhola), Pargana Hussain Shahi and Doulat Khan respectively.

The Armenian community contributed a lot to the civil society and the life of the city. Nicholas Pogose in the early 19th century established the Pogose School, which was one of the only three English schools in Dhaka back then. He was also a founding member of the Dhaka Municipality (established in 1864) and served as one of the nine commissioners between 1874–75. Furthermore, they had a big impact not only in Dhaka but also neighbouring towns including Narayanganj and Mymensingh. 

To read the full article click here
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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bangladesh’s northernmost museum displays ancient rocks

Bangladesh’s northernmost museum displays ancient rocks
Bangladesh’s northernmost museum displays ancient rocks
A private collection started by Prof Md Nazmul Haque, lead to the birth of a local museum that now contains an assortment of ancient stones and other antiquities. Within two years he collected a number of antiquities, old stones and objects of archaeological value which have been on display at the ‘Rocks Museum’ at the Panchagarh Govt. Women’s College premises.Nazmul Haque, who is also an ex-principal of the college where the antiques are on display, collected them in the years of 1997 and 1998, mainly focusing on stones.

His collection includes clay pots from around 700 AD, stones which contain Chinese inscriptions that have similarity with Nepalese and old Bangla letters, a decorated bamboo hedge from 1922, ancient iron clamps, decorated bricks of Mughal dynasty and old coins.

“People here did not know the history behind the antiques. Most of the collected items were found by the locals either by digging soil or from under the river beds,” said the professor, now working at Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur.

The ancient boats

In the ancient times, ethnic people in islands in the Pacific Ocean used boats made out of single tree trunks. They selected a log and removed sufficient wood to make the vessel light in weight, gave the boats sharp ends to maximize drag while making it strong enough to carry the crew and cargo. Such two ancient boats presumed to have been built 500-1000 years back, were found while digging in the Chawain River near Amtala village and Karatoa River near Amorkhana village in Panchagarh district in the late 90’s.

The bigger wooden boat is 35-feet long and was found under the Chawain River by some villagers. They sold it to another family at Amtola village.“I heard that someone has an antique boat in his house and rushed to see it with a staff from the college,” said Nazmul Haque. He bought the boat for for Tk1,300.

The smaller one is 25-feet long and was found under the riverbed of Karotoa, in Amorkhana village. It was handed over to the collector as a gift by one Nurul Haque. Nazmul Haque sent samples from the boats to Dhaka University’s Chemistry Department, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and a lab in London but they failed to ascertain the exact age as the boats had been lying in the open sky after being discovered.

Rocks and other antiques

The stones preserved at the ‘Rocks Museum’ allegedly originated in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of India.Displays include granite, twelve types of sands, fossilized rocks, petrified woods, quartzite shell, lime stones clay-rocks–some has old letters—including Biahmmi and Kharsty written on those. Some Chinese inscriptions have similarity with Nepalese and old Bangla letters.

The other antiques include old structural designs, ancient iron lamps, drawings, arrows which showcases the ethnic traits of Panchagarh and adjacent areas.The museum has stone monuments that have similarity with stones at Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur. It also has hand-made stone axe of Neolithic era. Locals used to call those “Bajrakuthar.”

The Rocks Museum was formally inaugurated on March 1, 1997 with the collected rocks and antiques.

To read the full article click here
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Monday, March 5, 2018

A Trekker's Guide To Bangladesh

A Trekker's Guide To Bangladesh
©Sayam U. Chowdhury

One feels more profoundly connected to the earth and the environment when one is exploring on feet, rather than on a motorised vehicle. Your senses heightened, as you take in the sights and sounds, and the brain receives the stimuli that it craves from new experiences and exploration. And this is what treks are; a long walk that has a lot more to offer.

Sometimes the trek is adventurous, strenuous and even dangerous, going through difficult terrains, but any trek always has the ability to surprise you. Treks give a chance to immerse yourself completely in the moment, where the only thing that's important is where you place your next step. And an opportunity to test yourself, both physically and mentally.
It is no wonder then that trekking is now a very popular outdoor activity all over the world. Bangladesh, being one of the densely populated countries, does have some wonderfully scenic and spectacular trails that can take the trekkers through some diverse landscapes and experiences.


©Sakib Ahmed

The National Park in the northern district of Dinajpur is a wonderful sal forest that offers a pleasant trek through the sylvan coolness. There is a small stream that has to be crossed to enter the forest. The forest itself is magical, with large sal tress filtering the forest trails in a mosaic of light and shade. Walking through the forest offers a calmness as one can listen to calls of a plethora of birds, including orioles and drongos.

You will encounter members of the indigenous Santal community deep in the forest paths. A Santal village is just on the other side of the forest. Following the forest trails will lead you to the village. The quaint surrounding will offer you a glimpse into the simple lives of the community.


©Fuad Hassan

Lawachara National Park, in Srimangal of Moulvibazar district, is probably one of my most visited forests in the country, and one that offers a glimpse of the grandeur of the olden days where the forests were truly impenetrable. These days, one can hire a guide and go on treks inside the forest.
Two treks are available, one is a 30-minute walk and the other is 3-hours long. You can take eco-guides who work closely with the local Forest Department and you can contact a guide from the local forest office. For a small fee, one can take assistance from these guides.
The forest itself is incredibly diverse and the trek will take you through a range of micro-habitats. The three-hour trail winds through deep inside the forest, through bamboo groves, and large chapalish trees, down hilly charas or forest streams.

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This breath-taking waterfall lies deep in the remote Rajkandi Reserve Forest and offers a unique opportunity to walk through mystical hilly boulder strewn jhirior stream with crystal clear water trickling through.
The Rajkandi forest is in Moulvibazar district. To reach the waterfall, one has to undertake a tough 3-hour trek, that takes the trekker up and down forested hills and valleys down to the stream that would eventually lead to the waterfall.
The stream is narrow and peaceful with large mossy rocks, trees and bamboo groves reaching high on both sides. The sunlight filters through the greenery, reflecting off the high green walls and clear water, is finally absorbed by the large mossy rocks.
The trek through the stream is in an emerald world inside a fairy-tale. The sound of water flowing over rocks is soothing and offers the trekker a chance to reflect and inhale the beauty of the place.


©Sayam U. Chowdhury

This is probably one of the most famous treks in Bangladesh that take you up steep hills, through tribal villages, to a magical lake, passing incredible landscapes and all the way up to one of the highest peaks of Bangladesh. The Boga Lake-Keokradong trek, in Bandarban, is most certainly one of the most exciting and picturesque treks with expansive vistas and layers of green hills extending all the way to the horizon.
The trek will let you experience some breath-taking views, especially the beautifully blue Boga Lake nestled among the deep green hills. You can even take a dip in the clear water of the lake, go fishing using traditional methods or just take a calm walk along its bank, absorbing the beauty of the place.
The walk through the narrow hilly streams or jhiri will allow you to spend some intimate moments with nature and be lost in your thought. The trek is adventurous and uphill but one that has the ability to provide some amazing moments.


©Sakib Ahmed

This takes you through some of the most pristine natural landscapes of the country, across hills and rivers and streams, climaxing into the cascading waterfalls of Nafakhum and Amiakhum. The magic of the place is indescribable and best to find out for oneself.
At Thanchi, you will have to find yourself a guide, who will get a boat ready for you which can take you through some of the most beautiful sections of the hilly river Sangu, filled with massive boulders and sheer rock faces on both sides.  The river will take you all the way to Remakri Bazar passing Tindu Bazar, where you will have to stay the night. From Remakri, the trek finally begins.
From there a short 2-hour trek will take you to Nafakhum waterfall, an epitome of calmness and reflective beauty of nature. The water, coming down in steps from the rock is mesmerising and one can really spend hours and hours just imbibing the beauty of the place.
All across Bangladesh, there are places hidden, waiting to be explored and blazed a trail through. These are just a handful of them, all of which are stunning in their diversity and the experience they provide. A community of trekkers has been established in Bangladesh and are active on social media, arranging treks regularly. One can easily look them up and tag along.
To read the full article written by Sakib Ahmed click here
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

EKUSHEY BOI MELA : The National book fair of Bangladesh

Ekushey Boi Mela is the national book fair of Bangladesh. It is arranged each year by Bangla Academy and takes place for the whole month of February in Dhaka. This event is dedicated to the martyrs who died on 21st February 1952 in a demonstration calling for the establishment of Bengali as one of the state languages of former East Pakistan.

Muktodhara Publishing House under the initiative of Chittaranjan Saha had started a little sale in front of Bangla Academy on 21 February 1972. Later, other book publishers joined there. Bangla Academy took over charge of the Fair in 1978. In 1984, it was named Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Apart from book selling, the literary and cultural events are also organized there. The visitors gather at Nazrul Manch, a corner dedicated to Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Besides, many go to Lekhok Kunjo, a dedicated place for writers. In fact, this book fair is the cultural reunion of Bangladesh which is attended by every person who is related to book publishing and writing. In 2014, the authorities extended the territory of the Fair up to Suhrawardy Udyan to accommodate a huge number of visitors.

Ekushey Boi Mela started merely as a book fair; it has now evolved into a national cultural festival reflecting the cultural spirit of the modern Bengali nation. In addition to book sales, Bangla Academy organizes literary and cultural events every day.Baul and other folk songs are presented to the amusement of the gathering. Discussions on literature and culture are also held throughout the month of February. Famous writers and intellectuals deliver lectures to enlighten the audience. In one stage programme, Ekushey Padaks are handed over to recipients amid the presence of the top intellectuals of the country. There is no entry fee. Publishers of Bangladesh take year-long preparation to publish a huge number of books during this month. Around 500 publishers take part in this historical fair every year. The venue of the book festival and outside is decorated with banners, festoons and placards in conformity with the spirit of martyrs.

No other country can boast the annual tradition of a month-long book fair, held with such fervor at such an important venue in the capital -- the book fair makes Bangladesh unique, and in a good way. Visit Ekushey Boi Mela to get the taste of rich Bengali culture, history and mark the glory of a civilized & educated nation.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Best Cultural Attractions of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s Mega city
Dhaka’s size and density make visiting the city a hyper-real urban experience, in which the whirlwind of metropolitan life is magnified to an extreme degree. It is also a city marked by the complex cultural, religious and social history of Bangladesh, and exploring the streets of this thriving mega city offers a fascinating insight into the rich panorama of Bangladeshi culture and history.

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Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban
Designed by American architect Louis Kahn, the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban or National Parliament House is one of the most impressive seats of political power in the world, and is a worthy monument to the thriving city in which it is located. It is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world and houses all of Bangladesh’s parliamentary activities. The building was planned in the early 1960s, as the seat of the federal legislature of both West Pakistan and East Pakistan but wasn’t built for another two decades as the War of Independence took its deadly toll. Kahn’s monumental design is visually stunning, both in scale and in location, as it rises from the mist of the surrounding lake, which was incorporated to evoke the place of the river in Bangladeshi and society history.

Liberation War Museum
Located in Segunbagicha, the Liberation War Museum commemorates the Bangladeshi Liberation War, which led to the formation of Bangladesh. It includes an array of artefacts, educational information and images of the conflict, as well as the ensuing refugee crisis, which saw an exodus of 10 million refugees. Whilst by no means comprehensive, the Museum’s exhibits offer a fascinating insight into what was a deeply troubled period in the subcontinent, and there are several graphic displays which are not for the faint of heart, including a large collection of mementos of those who lost their lives in the conflict. A profoundly moving experience, the Liberation War Museum is an essential memorial to the tragic loss of life which accompanied the birth of the Bangladeshi state.

Hindu Street/Shankaria Bazaar
The 300 year old centre of Dhaka’s Hindi community, this colourful and vibrant area is a slice of the commercial life of Old Dhaka, and reveals the artisanal traditions of the Hindu community in Bangladesh. The area is crisscrossed with alley ways packed with tiny workshops where artisans and craftsmen practice their age old traditional crafts; making everything from kites to jewellery. Many are descendants of the original Hindu residents of the area, and their handicraft traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. The area’s constant hum of business and craftsmanship is infectious, and visitors will not fail to be entranced by the ageless atmosphere of the bazaar.

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Bangladesh National Museum
Located in Shahbag, the Bangladesh National Museum is a monument to the history and culture of Bangladesh and the wider Bengal region. It features a mammoth array of artefacts, mementos, exhibits, photos and art works. These are organised into thematic sections which reveal the best of art and culture in Bangladesh, from pieces of classical art, to exhibits exploring the natural beauty of Bangladesh, and the variety of wildlife and sea creatures which thrive in the country. The Buddhist and Muslim periods of Bangladesh are explored and there are various handicrafts from every period of Bangladeshi history. For an introduction to the culture and history of this ancient land, the National Museum is unmissable.

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Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque
Dhaka is often referred to as the ‘City of Mosques’ (as well as the ‘City of Rickshaws’) and the Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque reveals why. This historic archaeological site has been reasonably well restored, unlike many other sites in the city, and reveals the religious practices and architectural style of late 17th and early 18th century Dhaka. It was constructed by Khan Muhammad Mridha in the years 1704–05 AD and is unique in that the tahkhana rooms are raised on a platform, and must be reached by a series of steps. In a city full of Mosques the Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque is a particular highlight, and one of the more unique historical remnants of Bangladesh’s past.

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Armenian Church

Surprising in both its history and its unique architecture, the Armenian Church of Dhaka is a testament to the existence of a once thriving Armenian community in the city. Built in 1781 the church is now all that remains of this community, which found refuge in Bengal to escape Persian persecution in their homeland. They arrived in the 17th century and began trading with Bengali merchants whilst settling in an area which would come to be known as Armanitola. Whilst the Armenian community has long been dispersed, the church remains as a memento of the thriving social life which once existed in the neighbourhood, and the graveyard is a particularly poignant remnant of an all but forgotten part of Dhaka’s multicultural society.

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The Pink Palace of Ahsan Manzil
For a glimpse of aristocratic life in Bangladesh, and the chance to escape the throbbing crowds of the city streets, a visit to Ahsan Manzil is a must. This resplendent pink palace was once the home of the Dhaka Nawab Family, the rulers of Dhaka for much of the 19th and early 20th century, who were given sovereignty over the city under the British Raj. It was built in 1869 and is an example of the Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture which is evident throughout the subcontinent as one of the Raj’s enduring remnants. The palace has now been turned into a museum as a means of preserving it and commemorating its importance as a cultural and political centre of the city.

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Sadarghat Boat Ride

Sadarghat is the river port for Dhaka, and a boat ride from here is a vital introduction to the importance of the Buriganga for the social, economic and cultural life of the city. The crowds of workers, fishermen and tourists make a visit to the port a chaotic and at times challenging experience, but one which is worthwhile for the unique insight it offers into city life. Competition for tourists amongst the ferrymen is fierce but once on one of the traditional small vessels the calm of the river offers instant relief. Whilst the river is deeply polluted, and the slums either side of it are a depressing sight, this still offers a fascinating glimpse of life on one of the busiest waterways in the world.

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Curzon Hall/Dhaka University
Built by Lord Curzon in 1904, Curzon Hall is the highlight of any visit to Dhaka University. The grand Raj era building has been the centre of political intrigue and protest over the course of its century long history, and is still in use today. The building combines European and Mughal architectural touches in the typical Indo-Saracenic style and is match in its elegance and grandeur by the surrounding buildings, such as the Old High Court, The Mausoleum of Three Leaders, the Shaheedullah Hall and the Dhaka Gate. The hall and the campus are unique mementos of the Raj’s influence in Bengal, but are also monuments to the educational institutions of this country and its capacity for continual reinvention.

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Lalbagh Fort
An incomplete 17th century Mughal fort complex which was originally built in 1678 AD by Subahdar Muhammad Shah, the Lalbagh Fort remains a potent reminder of the extent of Mughal rule in Bangladesh. It lies on the Buriganga River in the south-western part of the old city of Dhaka, and its extensive grounds and gardens remain an oasis of peace amidst the tumult of the city streets. The magnificent construction is reminiscent of the Mughal temples and forts of Western India, and includes the typical minarets and domes of Mughal architecture. It is possible to visit the former Hammam within the fort, as well as the tomb of Para Bibi, the daughter of the former Mughal ruler of Bengal. In the 20th century, the Fort was the site of several attempted uprisings against the British during the final days of the Raj.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

For Hungry Travelers: Bangladesh offers a roller coaster ride of Varieties of Tastes


For hundreds of years, food for the people of the greater region called ‘Bengal’ has worked as a medium of finding solace. ‘Reaching someone’s heart through his stomach’- the popular adage is absolutely true for these people, who love to entertain their guests with the best to offer, even if it means leaving nothing for themselves. Women who engage themselves in cooking as many courses as possible depending on the financial condition, put their heart into each dish. The cooking processes are time consuming and to some extent may seem complicated to expatriates who are habituated to having packed or canned pre-processed food. Making pastes of onion, garlic or ginger on a traditional grinding stone called ‘Shil-nora’, each one separately or sometimes even together, (a tradition found in Faridpur region, the paste is called furani bata) is a tedious job but adds distinct flavors in cooking. Nonetheless, what’s much more amusing is the aroma that spreads from the kitchen is sure to make your mouth water. In Charyapada, the ancient book of Buddhist mystic songs, there are mentions about the staggering arrangements of cooking special dishes on special days; there are even rhymes, which used to be memorized by the cook to keep track of time while something is boiling or cooking. For those people, perfect was the mantra to live by as food is something that should give their tastebuds a joyous roller coaster ride.In fine, all the love, the attention and probably the midas touch of their experienced hands of the womenfolk makes the meals so magical.

Beef with spinach curry

The deltaic region is enriched with alluvial soil and henceforth, rice, which is grown in abundance, is the staple food. Approximately 127 variety of rice are grown here. Every breed of rice has a unique use of its own. One breed of rice is used to make lavish ‘Biriyani’ while the other breed of rice is puffed to make ‘Muri’. However, the most popular form among Bangladeshis is the plain white rice or ‘Shada bhaat’ as we like to call it. A plate of freshly cooked steaming hot rice along with spicy & sumptuous supplementary dishes is one kind of a necessity for any Bangladeshi during lunch and dinner. That lethargic feeling attained as the aftermath of a regular tiresome work day is washed away when one returns home to find the sweltering steam of rice dangling in the air mingled with the aroma coming from a bowl containing chilly fish curry made out of seasonal spices. To glorify moments such as this, the term ‘Maachh-Bhaate Bangali’ was coined. However, only fish and rice cannot define the food habit of Bangladeshis. Food here is not about heavily seasoned greasy curries either. It is not about a vast array of sugar loaded dairy-based desserts or allegedly overcooked vegetables. These perceptions about Bangladeshi Cuisine that seem to prevail among the transient travelers are mostly based on their experiences in busy local eateries, where the true taste and essence of this deltaic cuisine is significantly compromised to accommodate higher profit margins. In addition, established mainly to cater to fleeting businessmen and office executives on the go, many restaurants usually do a terrible job of combining all the recipes from across the country under their roofs. Dining out was never the part of middle class Bangladeshi culture until very recently, which too is mostly for them to experience non-Bangladeshi cuisines for a change. Therefore, till date the best samples of Bangladeshi culinary delights are being served in Bangladeshi homes, and are shared together by all the members of the family.

Bhetki Paturi

In the villages, breakfast on a regular day would be either Panta Bhaat (Rice soaked in water overnight) served with green pepper, onion etc. or Folar (a combination of flat rice, jaggery, sweet curd, fruits and other form of dairy sweets). On special occasions, a vast variety of rice cakes (Pitha) is served which can be both sweet and savory. Luchi(finely rolled deep fried fluffy bread) with Shuji’r Halwa (Semolina Kesari) are widely popular in both rural and urban areas . The dairy shops would also have piping hot Shingaras (deep fried pastry wraps stuffed with vegetables and nuts). In the cities, Panta bhaat is replaced by wheat roti which is enjoyed with daal, stir fried vegetables (Bhaaji), eggs or curries. Paratha, Bhaji and Egg is also a classic combo in restaurants across the country. On the heavier side of the breakfast, there is Ox Brain Bhuna, Ox Liver Bhuna, Lotpoti (spicy curry of chicken liver, heart, gizzards, head and neck), and Chicken Soup (local chicken pieces cooked with yogurt, milk and green chili).

Brain Bhuna

Each region in Bangladesh has their unique ways of honoring their fresh local produce as the abundance of each ingredient varies largely with respect to season and geography. Food preparation does not only vary across regions, they also vary in the same region depending on occasions, festivals or the time of the day. Nevertheless, the unique feature of Bangladeshi cuisine lies in the custom in which the food is enjoyed; which once mastered, can unearth all the hidden flavors of the fresh ingredients for the lucky diner. The rules might not be as ceremonial as that of Japanese Way of Tea, but the art of using hands to mix rice with vegetables, protein dishes and broths is no simpler than that of using chopsticks. The only difference is using hands in this case is much more critical to the enjoyment of the diner than chopsticks. Apart from mastering the art of using hands to enjoy meals, a seasoned Bangladeshi diner would also know from where to start and where to end just by looking at the dishes displayed before him.

Lal Atar Roti

Traditionally, the meal starts either with deep fried small fish like Chapila, Puti etc., pan-fried Pointed Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Teasel Gourd, Okra, Pumpkin etc., leafy vegetables like spinach, radish leaves, bottle gourd vines, red amaranth or from one of the hundred varieties of Bhorta (seasoned and mashed vegetables, seeds, or fish). Once blended with rice using fingers, each of the combination teases your tastebuds making up for a great appetizer/starter. Now on a dinner table in a Bangladeshi household, expect to have more than one main course, which is either a fish or a meat curry. The main courses are usually followed by a finishing course like Daal made from a variety of pulses or a Khatai/Ombol (an acidic variety of broth made with a combination of tangy fruits) to neutralize the heat from the flavorsome courses.

Pabda Curry

No essay is complete without discussing the love of sweets among Bangladeshi people. Dessert, which is a must after all meals on special occasions are always diary based. Popularly known as ‘mishti’, sweetmeats of Bengals are better than anywhere else in the world. What sets them apart is the process of making them; unlike many other places, we make sweetmeats with Chhena, the unripened curd cheese from bovine milk.The moist and crumbly form of cheese is a special ingredient that is still used to make the famous roshogolla, a bite of which will flood your tongue with sugary syrup that in the beginning may seem a bit too much for your tastebuds; but soon you will be surprised that you will automatically take the second, third and fourth bite to finish it all. Different cities of the country have different and signature sweetmeats of their own and all of them are immensely loved by all. Chomchom, Kachagolla, Laddu, Shondesh, Balish Mishty, Komola bhog, Lencha are some of the very unique sweetmeats from different regions of Bangladesh. Taking sweetmeats is a gesture of showing felicitation here; festivals and celebrations are never complete without them, be it a village or the most modern urban set up.

Pakon Pitha

As Bangladeshis are always welcoming anything new and worthy, all of Dhaka city is now mushroomed with restaurants and eateries serving a plethora of items. What’s interesting about these restaurants are in many cases, they blend in local cooking techniques while preparing a Thai, Lebanese or Mexican dish and the final product becomes a thought provoking hybrid for our gourmands. Nevertheless, if you are really keen on enjoying the authentic Bangladeshi fine dining experience, Paturi Bangladesh has opened its doors to food aficionados from both home and abroad. With so many westernized eateries popping up all over Dhaka, it’s about time someone brought back the essence of our local cuisine to remind us of the origins of our tastes.

Shared from ICE Today