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Must-Try Bangladeshi Food in Bangladesh

Must-Try Bangladeshi Food in Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi food culture is exquisite and elite. Sharing a border with India, the south Asian country boasts impeccable taste with timely Mughal and Colonial influences.

BACKGROUND

Geography is a crucial determinant in the type of diet along with the rainfall patterns. Seafood is readily available due to the abundant rivers and the vast sea. Agriculture is the leading occupation of the country, with over 60 percent population involved in the activity. This leads to the production of an adequate amount of vegetables, fruits, and grains every year. Paddy is the staple of the Bangladeshi diet and is widely produced throughout the country.

With a majority of the Islamic community, the food is principally halal. Pork is not common in the area, but chicken, beef, and goat meat are highly preferred. Bangladeshi cuisine comprises an extensive range of herbs, spices, fish, meat, veggies, and tubers.

 

 

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Many dishes and desserts from various districts became a signature dish of that particular place. However, the cooking style and the taste of different Bangladeshi food vary from district to district. Like, the authentic taste of ‘Mughlai Biryani’ and ‘Mughlai Porota’ is only possible to get from Old Dhaka. And nothing can beat the actual taste of ‘Chomchom’ from Tangail district in Bangladesh.

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THE BANGLADESHI DIET

Palatable and elite daals and curries make for the signature Bangladeshi culinary experience. A heavy Bengali (Indian) influence is noticeable in the ingredients and cooking techniques. Nonetheless, the taste and feel are unique and native. The traditional Bangladeshi meal consists of rice, daal, bhajis, curries, bhortas, fish, and meat.

Famous curry dishes like Chingri Malai curry and Ilish curry are favorites in the land and make for popular side dishes. The food is served with naan, rotis, or parathas (flatbreads made by baking dough).

Bangladeshi Food Item - Egg Parathas
Egg Parathas served with salad and chutney

Meat is often marinated in yogurt to add a unique flavor. Khichdi (Khichuri) and Biryanis (rice dishes with meat, herbs, and spices) are extremely loved throughout the country and are eaten lavishly on special occasions like weddings and celebrations.

Numerous unique and mouthwatering Khichuri recipes are available in the local restaurants, each worth trying.

Bangladeshi popular cuisine Khichuri
Khichuri served with Egg fry and Pickles

There are various Bangladeshi sweets and desserts, including Kalojam, Chomchom, Roshogolla, Roshmalai, Shondesh, Falooda, Balish Mishti, Monda, Mishti Doi, and Doi Chira.

Mouthwatering Bangladeshi sweets - Shondesh
Mouthwatering Bangladeshi Sweets (Mishti)

And some of the homemade mouthwatering desserts like Kheer or Payesh, and Shemai are must-try on religious festivals like Ramadan and Eid.

Eid special dessert Kheer
Eid special dessert Kheer

CULTURE AND ETIQUETTES

Beautiful Bengali culture emphasizes togetherness, and most Bangladeshi families eat together in community dishes according to their genders. Restaurants give travelers options, but trying community eating can be an enticing experience if you are traveling with your family. If and when invited to dinner by a Bangladeshi family, ensure that you follow the proper etiquette and never deny the invitation straight away.

Chicken Roasts to serve during Eid Festival
Chicken Roasts to serve during Eid Festival

Bangladeshi food is a stirring experience you do not want to miss during your tour. Spicy food lovers are sure to find their heaven in these delicious aromatic dishes.

I’m complete ‘Mache Bhate Bangali,’ so simple Bengali dishes always go with my favorite Bangladeshi food list. And I mostly love homemade food.

Traditional Bengali Food for Lunch
Traditional Bengali Food (aam daal, aloo bhorta, bhaji, fish, and chicken curry) for lunch

So, what to eat when in Bangladesh? Here is a list of some must-try Bangladesh dishes, among many more impossible to mention in one post.

TOP FOOD ITEMS IN BANGLADESH

  1. BIRYANI

Biryani is a piquant rice dish made with chicken, meat, fish, prawns, potatoes, and spices. Famous throughout the world, Biryani in Bangladesh is said to have Persian roots and Mughal influences. It is an immensely loved dish in the Indian subcontinent. With significant variations and recipes, Bangladeshi biryanis are all winners.

Layers of meat, potatoes, rice, instilled with rich flavorsome spices like cumin, bay leaves, saffron, chili powder, cloves, and onions, the biryanis make for an incredible celebratory meal. The rich flavors and vibrant red and yellow colors are just right to drool just by the sight and smell.  The smoky flavor of the earthen pots due to the nice and slow cooking in mustard oil is divine.

Famous Bangladeshi cuisine Biryani
Famous Bangladeshi Biryani

Biryanis can be served with simple salads, chutney, or kebabs. Bangladeshi Borhani, which is an authentic Bangladeshi yogurt drink, is also served with Biryani. It is this luxury that makes Biryani a staple in weddings, parties, and other celebrations. Old Dhaka is the go-to place to enjoy traditional Bangladeshi Biryani at the best rates.

  1. HILSA (FRIED FISH CURRY)

Hilsa curry, also known as Ilish curry, is the Bangladeshi national dish. It is a famous curry made out of Hilsa fish. The fish is well marinated in chili paste and turmeric. It is then slowly fried on low heat. Hilsa curry is generally served with rice and mustard gravy. The incredible sour and sweet flavors delight the taste buds making a lasting statement on the consumer.

Ilish Mach is a signature dish of Bangladesh that you must try upon visiting the country of the Bengal Tiger. Due to abundant rivers and estuaries in the delta region, the availability of Hilsa fish is extremely high, specifically in the monsoon. The dish is easy to make, filling, and tasty.

Bangladeshi people consume the whole fish, leaving no waste parts. Different dishes are made using the body parts like the eggs and the head. It is a simple, practical, and delicious curry that you need to try.

Popular Bangladeshi cuisine Shorshe Ilish
Popular Bangladeshi cuisine – Shorshe Ilish

Hilsa (Ilish Mach) is also becoming a part of Bengali culture. Bengalis enjoy celebrating the first day of the Bengali month (Pohela Baishakh) with ‘Panta Ilish’. It is a famous Bengali cuisine where steamed water rice (Panta Bhat) served with deep Hilsa fry, different bhorta, onion, and chili.

Shorshe Ilish, Bhapa Ilish, Ilish Paturi, Aloo Beguner Ilish Macher Jhol are some of the famous and traditional Hilsa fish dishes in Bangladesh. Ask me my favorite; it is any dishes from Hilsa I love to eat.

Bengali dish Panta Ilish
Traditional Bengali dish Panta Ilish with Panta Bhat, fried Ilish fish, and bitter gourd bhaji
  1. BHORTA (MASHED VEGETABLES AND FISH)

Bhorta is a prevalent Bangladeshi dish available everywhere in the country with numerous recipes. It is a sabji (vegetable dish) made of either a single vegetable or a mixture of vegetables cooked and mashed to serve. According to the recipe, the flavors can range from mild to spicy, and there are countless variations, and no single way is the right way.

Bhorta is served up in small quantities in petite dishes. They are usually served as side dishes along with fried fish, curry, or rice dishes. These are affordable dishes, and you can try a few options to find the one you like the best. The price point allows for mix and match, and you won’t regret trying it out.

Bangladeshi Bhorta
Bangladeshi Bhorta (Mashed potatoes with eggplant and tomatoes)

Different Dry Fish Bhorta is also very popular and must-try when tripping around the seaport district Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar Sea Beach in Bangladesh.

  1. HALEEM (LENTIL SOUP)

Haleem is another slow-cooked meal that requires over seven to eight hours of preparation, but the result is delicious. Haleem is a tangy lentil soup that consists of minced meat (or beef or mutton), wheat, rice, barley, and an assortment of rich spices. The slow cooking ensures the precise blending of all the ingredients giving a consistent paste-like texture.

Different types of lentils are used in the combinations for the dish. Haleem is very common to eat during the time of Ramadan in Bangladesh.

Haleem goes with salad, fried onions, chopped ginger, coriander, green chilies, and lemon wedges for an excellent evening snack. It can be also served with butter roti or naan or any other bread. It is an exquisite dish that should undoubtedly be on your must-try list for the trip.

Popular Ramadan food item Haleem
Popular Ramadan food item Haleem
  1. PITHA (RICE CAKES)

Rice is the staple diet of Bangladeshi people, and it is consumed in various forms. Pitha refers to sweet or savory rice cakes that are another local favorite for the winter. These are made of numerous kinds of rice, which are soaked in milk. Sugar, jaggery, date palm syrup, and molasses are added to the mix for sweetness. The cakes can be fried or steamed. Make sure you try out these delightful rice cakes on your visit to Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi various pitha
Bangladeshi various Pitha

Bhapa Pitha, Chitoi Pitha, Dudh Puli Pitha, Nakshi Pitha, and Patishapta Pitha are some of the traditional and delicious pithas from Bangladesh.

Chitoi Pitha for breakfast
Chitoi Pitha served with Chicken Curry
  1. PHUCHKA

Phuchka or Fusca, or Pani Puri, refers to tangy and prevalent street food that is prevalent in Bangladesh and India. People swoon over this light, spicy and mouthwatering snack, making it necessary to be included in this list.

Phuchka includes tiny, crunchy, and puffed bread-like small balls filled with potato and vegetable stuffing. This bread (puris) is topped with tamarind chutney, chaat masala, onions, chili, and chickpeas and dipped in rather spicy and flavored water. They are served in tiny bowls one at a time.

Famous Bangladeshi street food Phuchka
Famous Bangladeshi street food Phuchka

The crispy puris break, and the water fills the mouth. These puris are meant to be eaten in one go to savor the tanginess to its maximum.  The stall owner makes rounds of servings to the consumers who can choose which flavors they want in their next shot. It is a great snack, and you must try it on your visit to Bangladesh, trust me.

Fusca in India is commonly popular as Pani Puri, but the taste is different. As a Bengali food lover definitely, I loved the actual taste of Phuchka from Bangladesh.

Delicious homemade Fusca
Homemade Fusca Love!
  1. MOROG POLAO

Morog Polao is yet another rice dish similar in richness to the biryanis with exquisite flavoring and ingredients. It includes marinated chicken and rice cooked in ghee (butter). Spices, yogurt, and veggies are added to this simple and effective rice dish. It isn’t as spicy and rather goes for the smooth and delicious taste.

It is a traditional dish generally served with Borhani. The chicken is used in massive quantities and is incredibly yummy, and the layers of rice and the flavoring heighten the culinary experience. This one is a sure winner, so make sure to not leave out on this elite experience on your visit.

  1. SHEEK KEBAB

Sheek kebab is a fantastic dish and a must-try for all barbeque lovers. It involves mutton of beef pieces marvelously marinated with spices for a long time. These pieces are then skewed or barbequed on a grill and served with bread or with salads depending on the consumer choice.

The trick to the best kebabs is the marinating process – how much and how long. Bangladeshi restaurants have hit the nail to make the best sheek kebabs that will leave you enchanted, wanting more.

Sheek Kebabs ready to grill
Sheek Kebabs ready to grill

These can be great starters or snacks but can also pass for the main course. When in Bangladesh, you need to try these lip-smacking kebabs.

Another Shami Kebab is also delicious and commonly eaten with Polao or Biryani.

Shami Kebabs ready to serve
Homemade Shami Kebabs ready to serve
  1. MISHTI DOI

Bengali (Indian) influence is rather evident in the sweeter delicacies in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has a wide range of rich desserts. Mishti Doi is a caramelized yogurt dish served in small earthen pots called kulhad.

It traces its roots from the Bogra district in Bangladesh, gained immense popularity, and is extremely loved in the Indian subcontinent.

Bangladeshi dessert - Mishti Doi
Mishti Doi in a small earthen pot

It is made by boiling milk till thick and then adding sugar, molasses, jaggery, and/or brown sugar.

The milk is left overnight to ferment, and the sweetener used can be varying. It can be served after any meal on special occasions and celebrations.

  1. BORHANI

Borhani is an authentic Bangladeshi drink that is incredibly famous all throughout the country. It is a greenish savory yogurt beverage.

It is a rather smart drink that helps balance out the spiciness of the main meals like Biryani and khichdi and helps in the digestion process. The drink involves mint, yogurt, pepper, ginger, chili, and cumin and is extremely easy to make.

It is often served in essential celebratory functions and occasions. While the Bangladeshi people love it, it may not suit the taste of some people. But it indeed is worth trying. I took Borhani as a refreshing drink, it’s too healthy and yummy.

Authentic Bangladeshi drink Borhani
Authentic Bangladeshi drink Borhani

Bangladeshi culinary culture is vast, and there are so many dishes and drinks that reflect the flavors of Bangladesh, and it would be difficult to try them out in one go. But the place is pure heaven for beef and mutton lovers as the biryanis, kebabs, and other barbeque dishes are one of a kind.

The choices in desserts are immense with the delectable Roshmalai, Falooda, Doi Chira, and Sweet Lassi. The seafood is incredibly flavorful and relatively affordable for such good taste.

Must-try Bangladeshi sweets - Roshogolla
Must-try Bangladeshi sweets – Roshogolla and Lal Mohon

Enjoy your visit and stay in the land of Bengal Tiger and Bon appetite!

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