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Cuisine in Bangladesh


Bangladeshi cuisine has considerable regional variations. A staple across the country however is rice and 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 the major source of protein in the Bangladeshi diet.

Another integral part of Bangladeshi cuisine is beef, presence of which is a must in most of the feasts and banquets across the country, though consumption of beef is prohibited among the Hindu minority. Regional feasts such as “Mezbaan” of Chittagong, “Ziafat” of Sylhet/Comilla or “Dawat” of Dhaka will remain incomplete without serving hot beef.

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), toor (pigeon pea or red gram), urad (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 (besan).

The most important spices in Bangladeshi cuisine are garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli. In sweet dishes, cardamom and cinnamon are amongst the natural flavours.

Regional Dishes

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.

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 milk. Shutki, which is an especially treated dry fish, is extremely popular in these areas. Chittagong also exports shutki.

Dhaka – As a cosmopolitan city that has historically been the capital under Persio-Arabic rulers, Dhaka exhibits a great deal of Western influence in its cuisine. Dishes involving fried 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 biriani, Mughlai porota and bakorkhani are made by speciality stores, many of which have existed for over a century.

West and Northwest – The West and Northwest have, until recently, been untouched by the fashions and trends in the capital, Dhaka. As a result, the high level of Persio-Arabic influence in the cuisine in and around Dhaka area is absent, or less pervasive, here. Vegetable curries heavily occupy the main eating in these areas. Also, spices are more commonly, and more heavily, used. River fishes are common in the dishes.

Northeast – 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 satkorhai and shatkora, are used in cooking and serving, producing a distinct nature to the dining menu here.





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