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Best Food To Try in Cox’s Bazar – Bangladeshi Cuisine

Best Food To Try in Cox’s Bazar – Bangladeshi Cuisine

Bangladeshi cuisine is that hidden treasure of the culinary world that is just waiting to be discovered. Often overlooked under the shadow of its neighbor – a culinary giant Indian food – Bangladeshi food is the way to go if you love spices and seafood.

And you’re in luck if you find yourself in Cox’s Bazar – one of the best places to be for a seafood lover in Bangladesh.

BANGLADESHI CUISINE HISTORY

Bangladesh used to be a part of British India before the division of Bengal Subah into West and East Bengal. The division was mostly done on religious grounds, with West Bengal being a Hindu majority state and East Bengal being a Muslim majority one. East Bengal further became East Pakistan after the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Eventually, Bangladesh emerged as an independent country in 1971.

As a result of this diverse history, Bangladeshi cuisine has become a reflection of all the cultural influence it experienced over time. Many Bengali dishes are shared across borders with its neighboring sister state of West Bengal as well. However, the significant difference is that the Bangladeshi diet is mostly meat due to the Muslim majority.

Lunch with Bangladeshi food at a local restaurant in Cox's Bazar - Bangladeshi cuisine
Lunch with Bangladeshi food at Honeymoon Restaurant in Cox’s Bazar

THE TYPICAL BANGLADESHI FOOD

The majority of the Bangladeshi diet is comprised of curries served along with bread like Naan, Parathas, and Roti. it should come as an unsurprising fact as Bangladesh is a South-Asian nation. It is also the 4th largest producer of rice in the world. As a result, rice is also a principal part of the diet here and is again eaten majorly with curries.

Dhaka, the current capital of Bangladesh, also served as the Mughal capital of Bengal Subah. Spices are very prevalent in local dishes, which can be traced back to its Indian roots. It is reflected in the usage of rich and aromatic spices in cuisines like Biryani and Korma.

Halal meat is pretty much the only meat found in Bangladesh due to its Islamic population. It also means you can find all kinds of meats in Bangladeshi dishes, except for pork in Bangladeshi cuisine.

Cox's Bazar Dry Fish Stall - Bangladeshi cuisine
Famous Dry Fish Stall in Cox’s Bazar

Seafood in Bangladeshi cuisine is ubiquitous here since Bangladesh overflows with rivers and is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the south. However, there is no shortage of usage of vegetables and lentils as well since Bangladesh is a low-income country and not everyone can afford meat.

COX’S BAZAR

Cox’s Bazar is a famous tourist destination in Bangladesh known for harboring the world’s longest beach. A 125-kilometer long sprawl of sandy Cox’s Bazar Beach is well maintained, and you will rarely find any litter despite the beach witnessing a massive footfall every day.

There is no shortage of beach accommodation, and you can easily find a hotel room or resort near the beach at any given price point. From affordable rooms to luxurious resorts, there’s something for everyone. It is also pretty easy to travel to and can be reached via road or air from Dhaka and Chittagong.

Cox'z Bazar Tour Guide - Bangladeshi cuisine

The best way to spend a day or two in Cox’s Bazar is to experience the local Bangladeshi delicacies of which there are plenty. Being on a seashore, there is an abundance of seafood stalls and restaurants here serving various Bangladeshi cuisines made from fishes, crabs, octopuses, and more.

For people traveling to Cox’s Bazar for the first time, it can be a task in itself to find a good eating place and decide what to eat. However, you can always take help from the following list of must-try food in Cox’s Bazar below:

MUST-TRY FOOD ITEMS AT COX’S BAZAR

Ilish Fish Dishes

Ilish, aka Hilsa, is undoubtedly the most popular fish in all of Bangladesh, and one of the variations of this fish is also the country’s national food. Since Cox’s Bazar is a coastal town, the most popular dishes here comprise seafood for apparent reasons.

Cox's Bazar Seafood - Bangladeshi cuisine
Fresh raw Seafood to instantly cook and serve

And your Bangladeshi seafood experience can never be complete until you have tried at least 2 or 3 different variations of Ilish fish dishes, like:

  • Ilish Macher Paturi

This is the national cuisine of Bangladesh and can be found in pretty much any restaurant all over the country. The dish is made by wrapping a marinated Ilish fish in banana leaves before steaming or roasting or shallow-frying it. Marination is done using a combination of ground spices and ingredients like turmeric, mustard paste, and chili paste or chili peppers.

The cooked fish is generally served with white rice and makes for a great lunch before taking a long nap on the beach.

  • Shorshe Ilish

This variation of the Ilish is made using a thick broth in which mustard seeds and spices such as turmeric powder, cumin, green chilies, etc., are added before adding the fish and simmering it.

Popular Bangladeshi cuisine Shorshe Ilish - Bangladeshi cuisine
Popular Bangladeshi cuisine – Shorshe Ilish

It is more savory compared to the one above due use of extra spices and is again served with rice on the side.

  • Panta Ilish

Panta Ilish is a dish usually served during the Bangladeshi New Year known as “Pohela Baishakh.” The plate comprised “Panta Bhat,” a type of cooked and soaked rice and fried Ilish fish.

Bengali dish Panta Ilish - Bangladeshi cuisine
Panta Ilish with Panta Bhat, fried Ilish fish, and bitter gourd bhaji

The fish is again seasoned with typical Bangladeshi spices like turmeric, chili powder, and other ground spices before being fried. The dish is topped with chili peppers, onion, and tomatoes before being served.

Where to Find: Shalik Restaurant and Biryani House

Bhortas

Bhorta” (Or “Bharta” as it is called in the neighboring state of India), is practically any dish in which the main ingredient is mashed before being cooked. The term “Bharta” literally means a mashed mixture. It is a trendy dish all over Bangladesh and can be cooked using either vegetables like eggplant or potatoes or even fish and prawns.

Various bhorta served at Cox’s Bazar Sea Beach restaurant - Bangladeshi cuisine
Various Bhortas served at Cox’s Bazar Sea Beach restaurant

The simplicity of this dish is what makes it so popular. It is also very savory and has a base made of several spices like herbs, garlic, onion, turmeric, and red chili powder. The main component can also be steamed or grilled before mashing it and mixing it into the base. The dish is best enjoyed with rice or as a side dish with something like Panta Ilish.

Poushee Restaurant at Cox's Bazar - Bangladeshi cuisine
Popular Poushee Restaurant at Cox’s Bazar

Where to Find: Poushee Restaurant 

Fish Kabiraji

Fish Kabiraji is practically a fried fish cutlet enjoyed commonly as a snack in Bangladesh. This batter-covered, deep-fried fish cutlet is believed to be a result of Colonial influence. The word “Kabiraji” is believed to be a variation of the word “Coverage” signifying the coverage of fish in batter.

The cutlets can be made using almost any meat or seafood, but fish like Bhekti, Tuna Fish are usually used in its preparation.

Tuna Fish Fry at Cox's Bazar Beach Restaurant - Bangladeshi cuisine
Tuna Fish Fry at Cox’s Bazar Beach Restaurant

Also, the fish cutlet from Loitta Fish can make for an excellent companion snack for your evening tea on Cox’s Bazar’s beach while you watch the beautiful sunset.

Cox's seafood - Loitta Fish Cutlet - Bangladeshi cuisine
Loitta Fish cutlet

Where to Find: Palongki Inani 

Macher Jhol

Macher Jhol is another prevalent dish in Bangladesh – eaten in almost every household and served in nearly every restaurant. The dish is a spicy fish stew made using fishes like Rohu, Ilish, Seabass, and Bhakura along with vegetables like eggplant and potatoes.

Koral Fish curry - Cox's Bazar food - Bangladeshi cuisine
Koral Fish curry

The dish is made using minimal spices and is often very spicy. The broth of the stew is made from a base of spices like cumin, turmeric, coriander, and mustard seeds, and onions and tomato purée are added to give it extra flavor, sourness, and thickness. The fish is then cooked in the broth to make a curry that will feel heavenly when eaten with rice. It is another great dish to eat before spending a lazy afternoon in Cox’s Bazar.

Where to Find: EFC – A Live Fish Restaurant

Biryani

Biryani is a dish not exclusive to just Bangladesh. It is a highly famous cuisine all over the globe and is mostly conceived as Indian cuisine. However, Biryani is an inherent part of many South-Asian cultures along with Bangladeshi cuisine.

Biryani in Bangladesh is influenced by Mughals who also brought with them Persian and Turkish influences. The usual way of making Biryani here is pretty much the same. Layers of rice, meat, and spices are steamed together in a clay pot to make a flavourful dish that almost everyone will enjoy.

Famous Bangladeshi cuisine Biryani - Bangladeshi cuisine
Famous Bangladeshi Biryani

However, you can also find another variation of Biryani here, known as the Kachchi Biryani. It is different from regular Biryani in the way it’s cooked. The meat and rice in Kachchi Biryani are added raw into the pot together and entirely cooked by steaming, unlike regular Biryani in which the meat and rice are semi-cooked before steaming.

Where to Find: Hossain’s Biryani House

Bangladesh has a rich history and a vast culinary culture. It would be impossible to include all the local cuisines of Bangladesh in one list. Bangladesh also has a variety of geographic features which make the local cuisine different in different parts of the country. While people in plains eat more rice and wheat-based food, people in hills rely primarily on meat. The cuisines in coastal areas like Cox’s Bazar are heavily seafood-oriented.

It means that the best way to enjoy Bangladeshi food is to eat what is most prevalent in your area. And the dishes mentioned in this list are the must-have in that category! So naturally, while in Cox’s Bazar, you should try to enjoy as many seafood dishes as possible to make the best out of your stay.

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