Bangladeshi cuisine

Bangladeshi cuisine
Panta Ilish - a traditional Bengali platter of pantha bhat- A Bangladeshi variant of Congee (in soup) with fried Ilish slice, supplemented with dried fish (Shutki), pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies and onion - is a popular serving for the Pohela Boishakh festival in Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi cuisine refers to the Bengali cuisine prevalent in Bangladesh. Bangladesh was the eastern part of Bengal before the Partition of India. The Bangladeshi cuisine incorporates many Persian-Arabic elements and the usage of beef greatly sets it apart from the cuisine in West Bengal in India. It also has considerable regional variations. A staple across the country however is rice, various kinds of lentil, which is locally known as dal (sometimes written as daal) & fish. As a large percentage of the land (over 80% on some occasions) can be under water, either intentionally because of farming practices or due to severe climatological, topographical or geographical conditions, not surprisingly fish features as a major source of protein in the Bangladeshi diet. There is also a saying which goes, "Machh-e-Bhat-e-Bangali" (Fish and rice make a Bengali).

An integral part of Bangladeshi cuisine is mutton, the presence of which is a must especially in feasts and banquets. Kabab from mutton is immensely popular throughout the country. Mutton is used in the preparation of a wide range of dishes including biryani, tehari, haleem, and many others. Regional feasts such as the Mezbaan and Ziafat of Chittagong, Sylhet, and Comilla or the Dawat of Dhaka will remain incomplete without serving spicy Mutton.


Regional cuisines

Bangladeshi cuisine is a generic terminology to refer to the cooking-style and trend now prevalent in Bangladesh. However, there are several regional variations, in terms of dishes, cooking style, serving style and nomenclature. In general, for cooking purposes, the administrative divisions more or less correspond to regional divides as well.

Beef curry served with roasted onion in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The main differences are as follows:

  • South - Barisal Division, Chittagong Division and Khulna Division, being close to the sea, tend to have a larger use of sea fishes in their cuisines in addition to coconut. Shutki, which is an especially treated dry fish, is extremely popular in these areas. Shutki is also exported from these regions. Dishes especially involving beef and lentils are characteristic of Mezbaan feasts in Chittagong Division.
  • Dhaka/Central - Dishes involving spiced rice and a lot of meat are usually legacies of Dhaka's past as the capital of Bengali empires. Much of this is still visible in the old city, where dishes like biryani, different types of kabab, Mughlai parata and bakarkhani are made by specialty stores, many of which have existed for over a century.
Shorshe Ilish, a dish of smoked ilish with mustard seeds, has been an important part of both Bangladeshi and Bengali cuisine.
  • West and North-west - Vegetable curries heavily occupy the main eating in these areas. Also, spices are more commonly, and more heavily, used. River fishes (sweet water fishes) are common in the dishes.
  • North-east - Large number of lakes around the Sylhet Division encourages greater use of lake fishes in the cuisine. Because of proximity to the hills in Assam, several fruits and pickles that are otherwise absent in rest of the country, such as shatkora are used in cooking and serving, producing a distinct nature to the dining menu here.

Staple ingredients and spices

The staples of Bangladeshi cuisine are rice, atta (a special type of whole wheat flour), and at least five dozen varieties of pulses, the most important of which are chana (bengal gram), tur (pigeon pea or red gram), urod (black gram), and mung (green gram). Pulses are used almost exclusively in the form of dal, except chana, which is often cooked whole for breakfast and is processed into flour (beshon). However, unlike neighbouring Indian food that includes types of rice and bread, the main source of carbohydrates in a "regular" Bangladeshi meal is plain white rice. Different kinds of fried rice, in the forms of pulao and biriyani are eaten mainly on special occasions and at parties.

Bangladeshi food varies between very 'sweet' and mild-to extremely spicy, many tourists even from other South East Asian and Subcontinental countries find the food spicy. It resembles North East Indian and South East Asian food more closely than that of any other part of the Subcontinent, most likely due to geographic and cultural proximity. The most important flavours in Bangladeshi cuisine are garlic, ginger, lime, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli. In sweet dishes, cardamom and cinnamon are amongst the natural flavours.

Regional specialties

Phuchka - an enormously popular spicy snack
  • Alu Bhaji occurs across the region.
  • Luchi ,a flatbread.
  • Shujir Halua a semolina based halua from across the region.
  • Fuchka a variant of popular spicy snack.

Other famous Bangladeshi dishes

  • Torkari
  • Biryani Kachchi (mutton) Biriyani, Chicken Biriyani & Tehari (beef).
  • Khichuri (rice cooked with lentils)

There are several styles of Bangladeshi bread, including Luchi, Nan, Tondul rooti, chapati and paratha

Sweets and desserts

Varieties of pithas (Pakan, Pati Shapta etc.)

Bangladeshi cuisine has a rich tradition of sweets. The most common sweets and desserts include -

  • Chômchôm Tangail's Porabarir chomchom is famous
  • Kalo jam
  • Golap Jam
  • Rosho-golla
  • A wide variety of Pitha - steamed rice cakes or Vapa Pitha, Chitoi Pitha, Pan Pitha.
  • Firni also known as Payesh
  • Khir
  • Halua- there are different types of halua (semolina - shuji, carrot - gajor, almond - badam, boot etc..)
  • Jilapi
  • Doi - sweetened homemade creamy yoghurt
  • Shemai - sweet vermicelli in cinnamon, cardamon and star anise infused milk.
  • Shondesh - in Bangladesh, this is a palm sugar and rice flour fritter unlike the Shondesh of West Bengal
  • Chhana - also known as kacha shondesh, is an unrefined form of shondesh
  • Jorda - sweetened rice or vermicili, fried in ghee (clarified butter)
  • Shon-papri- Sweet Gram Flour Noodles, very fine delicate with a melt in mouth texture.
  • Rosh-malai - small roshogollas in a sweetened milk base; Comilla is famous for its Roshmalai.
  • Khaja & Goja - fried sweets
  • Borfi - there are different kinds of them
  • Murob-ba - traditionally made Bengali succade with various fruits such as Lime, Citron, Papaya, Mango, Pineapple, Soursop, Watermelon and also Ginger


  • Borhani (a spiced mughal drink made from yoghurt with various eastern spice), it is generally drunk with biryani or another rich meal.
  • Tea

See also



External links

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