Monday, April 29

Traditional foods and food habits in Bangladesh

Traditional Foods and Food Habits in Bangladesh

Every country has its own tradition of foods. Bangladesh has also the same. In the sense of food habits, Bangladesh is influenced by the regional variations of her history. Being an outpost of Mughal Empire once, Bangladesh retains its heritage. Bangladesh is famous for rice production which has been the chief occupation of its people. Rice therefore the main food of Bangladesh. The Bangladeshis eat rice, not just a small quantity but a lot. They eat rice every day and at every meal with great testy and spicy curry of vegetables, fishes and meat.

You may not have realized that you may be ate Bangladeshi foods! Many of the restaurants framed in Brick Lane, London are actually Bangladeshi in origin. The same can probably be said for other called Indian restaurants throughout the world when Indian foods have much better branding.

For the vegetarians Bangladesh is a paradise. Plenty of fresh vegetables are available throughout the year. Among them, winter vegetables are more popular because of their different preparations and taste. The common vegetables from Bangladesh are Cauliflower, Cabbage, Tomato, Potato, Beans, reddish, Peas, Carrot, Radish, Pumpkin, Eggplant, Drumstick, Bitter-ground, Arum and Arum-root, Bind-weed and many others. Most of the restaurants serve some kinds of vegetable everyday either fried or curry or even Bharta (cereals of various vegetables or fishes dry or fresh with spices that are absolutely delicious).

Generally Bangladeshi take meal in three time a day called Breakfast around 8.00 am, Lunch around 2.00 pm and dinner around 10.00 pm . Besides in evening they take snakes.

In the morning, a farmer or a laborer starts his long day with a breakfast of Panta (plain boiled rice soaked overnight in water and slightly fermented). This watery rice mixed with salt and chilly, either green or fried dry ones but this is not just the only sort of breakfast. Muri (puffed rice) or Chira (flattened rice), or Khoi (popped rice) are other items of a traditional breakfast in most Bangladeshi homes in the rural areas. These are taken with milk, yogurt, seasonal fruits or Gur (a crude form of country sugar).

Wheat based plain bread (may be with oil) is another common item for breakfast. A large number of people of Bangladesh take baked bread and mixed vegetable including egg, various kind of meat, and a hot cup of tea at last of breakfast.

Biriani of Bangladesh
Traditional Foods of Bangladesh
Lunch is the main dish for Bangladeshis. Almost all the Bangladeshis take plain rice in lunch. Most of them take different kinds of vorta and Bhaji (saluted or fried vegetable with green or fried chilly and other spices) are very popular. They also take various kinds of spicy illusive fishes with it. So it is called that Mase vate Bangali (i e the land of rich and fishes). Fish or meat Jhol (liquidated, may be with different kind of vegetables) with plenty of chopped spices and other ingredients Cooked in low heat and for long is typical and an exclusive dish of Bangladesh. Dal (pulse) is must in Bangladeshi tradition in lunch. Adding ground ginger, garlic, onion, cumin, and chili pepper pastes, this dish also included fennel seed, black cumin, methie and so on herbs makes the Bangladeshi traditional meal greatly delicious.

Almost all Bangladeshis take same items of foods in dinner. Dudvat (milk and rice) is very common as the last item of dinner. This is eaten with seasonal fruits like mango, banana or jack fruit or just with Gur (country sugar).

Foods Varieties
During the harvesting season breakfast and evening snakes consist of a great variety of Pithas (rice cakes) of different sizes and shapes, salted or sugary, fried, boiled, sun dried or cooked. The remarkable Pithas are Sandwish, chitoi, dhupi, Pati-Sapta, antasha, pufi, Vapa, pua, various Nakshi Pitha etc. Swandwish pitha (taler pitha) is prepared from a mixture of rice flour, gur and salt, fried in mustard oil. Chitai a paste of rice flour baked in especially designed clay pans. It may be soaked for a day or two in evaporated milk. Pati Sapta is a variety of rolled pancakes with Kheer (great delicious, prepared with milk thickened through continuous boiling) filling. During weddings the bridegroom is given Nakhsi Pithas-carved and decorated rice cakes, which are real tasty.

Pithas of Bangladesh
Rice Cakes of Bangladesh
In weeding or other social festival, Biriani (fine rice with chicken, beef or mutton cooked in Ghee or clarified butter), Pilaw (spicy like Biriani but without meat), with Chicken roast or mutton Rezala is served as main dish. Khichuri (Hotchpotch) is another popular item in Bangladeshi food habit. Different kind of pickle of mango, tomato, olive etc are also taken much.
Bangladesh pickle
Pickles from Bangladesh
Various varieties of inland and marine fishes are available throughout the country. Fish lovers should not miss the great taste of smoked or boiled or fried Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha), the national fish of Bangladesh. Trout, Eel, Butter fish, Ruhi, Katla, Mackerel, Reetha, Pungas Catfish, Walking Fish, Giant snake head are very testy and common in Bangladesh. Among the marine fishes Lobster, Red Snapper, Rupchanda, Tuna, Bhetki, Loittya are very popular.

Hilsa, the national fish of Bangladesh
Local Fishes of Bangladesh
Among the seasonal fruits the appeal of jack-fruit (the national fruit of Bangladesh) is universal for its sticky and juicy substance. You may take the taste of Fazli aam (a famous mango) for sophisticated experience. There are a number of varieties of mango each having an exotic name differing in taste, varying in sweetness and even in flavours. The litchis of Rajshahi are juicy and colourful, pleasing both to eye and the tongue. Pineapple is another treat. Lots of them are grown on the hilly area. The other remarkable fruits of Bangladesh are Guava, Plum, Palm, Water Melon, banana etc.

Jack Fruit, the national fruit of Bangladesh
Local Fruits of Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Snacks and Breads

Singara- is spiced potato pockets wrapped in thin dough and fried. It is really tasty and inexpensive snack that you can find almost anywhere in Bangladesh.

Samosa- Bangladeshi samosas tend to be triangular, filled with cabbage and other vegetables, and are very crispy.

Dallpuri-is a popular and common item as snakes contain dall(pulse) covered with specially prepared flour paste fried in hot oil. Sometime it contains potato in lieu of pulse.

Bangladeshi snacks
Snacks of Bangladesh
Naan- (flat bread baked in a tan door oven) is a common item in almost all restaurants in Bangladesh. It may be contain banana or other fruits as paste.

Muglai Barata- (bread contains spicy egg or meat) is another popular item in evening snakes.

Tandori- (flat wheat paste baked in oven) in very popular and common item in breakfast.

Bakorkhani- (wheat and sugar based) is a famous and traditional snack available in old Dhaka.

Desserts of Bangladesh

Misti Dhohi, flat Chana, Sweetened Yogurt, Sandesh, Rasgolla, Ras Malai, Kalojam, Pudding etc are unique milk based dessert. Taste a Pranhara (heart winner) or a lady Kenny (named after Lady Kenning, wife of the British Governor of East India Company) and you will know what it means! Kheer is also a great tasty milk based dessert. Sweetmeat is served to a guest any time of the day or night. A messenger who would carry good news to a relative or a man also accompanies those sweetmeats. Besides, Halua based on carrot, sooji or wheat cream, almond, pistachio, nuts and so on and Zorda are the common dessert in Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi Dessert
Dessert of Bangladesh

Drinks in Bangladesh

Prepared Tea: Bangladeshis are a tea drinking people. You’ll find little tea stands throughout the country with a few people sitting and drinking a small cup, perhaps with some snacks. Tea drinking and tea stalls offer a great way to engage with and meet the common people. Most tea is black tea served with condensed milk and sugar, but you can also request red tea which is without milk.

Lassi: It is a yogurt and ice based refreshing drink. It refreshes both body and soul when you are tired in travel.

Sugarcane juice: You can find juice stands on the streets here and there, where fresh sugarcane thrashing and ready juice is served.

Lime and Date juice: Sometime you may found natural Lime and date juice in street that is really exotic to taste.

Green Coconut Water: It is also available in street and it is fine, safe and nutritious to drink.

Besides it, international soft drinks are readily available. Hard drinks are available in star hotels and selected restaurants.

Bangladesh Restaurant Eating

Western foods are available in all major hotels and most of the renowned restaurants in import cities. But local dishes are normally far better and more exotic. In the capital city Dhaka, there are some famous and special menus which are greatly rich in taste, and only known to the food-lovers of the city dwellers. You should not miss the experience of the menus. Among the items, a short list is- Hazi Biriani- located in Alauddin Road in old Dhaka. Nanna’s Morog Polao- located at nearby Tara Mosque in old Dhaka. Ghoroa Restaurent’s Vuna Khichuri- located at Motijheel, the business heart of Dhaka. Sunami Restora’s Kacchi Biriani- located at Jhigatola Bus Stand at Dhanmondi. Jhunu’s Morog Polaw- located nearby Narinda police box, Mukta Biriani- located at Goran Tempu stand. Chhayanir’ Grill Chicken- Located in the Science Laboratory corner nearby new market etc.

Taste the above menu when you travel Bangladesh and let us know your experience about Bangladeshi foods.

Sunday, April 14

Culture and customs of Bangladesh

Culture and Customs of Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a long history of its culture and customs. The land, the rivers, and the daily life of the common people from different communities who live in harmony with greatly sympathetic neighbor to one another formed a rich heritage and customs in the regions. Beside the great Bengali poets Rabindranath Tagore (Noble Laurite) and Kazi Nazrul Islam (The National Poet of Bangladesh), a number of Bengali Saints, Baul, Authors, Researchers, Thinkers, Painters, Music personalities, Film-Makers and so on great soul have played a significant role in the development of Bangladeshi local culture during Bengal Renaissance in 19th and the first few decades in 20th centuries. Agriculture plays an important role to form culture and customs in Bangladesh when it is the main profession in the region. The culture of Bangladesh is composited over centuries has assimilated influences of local existing religion, socioeconomic condition, mass occupation, belief, movement and so on factors. The region has a long heritage of multifaceted folk, sculpture, weaving, pottery and terracotta, art and craft, festivals and celebrations, philosophy and religion, and also in a distinction of cuisine and culinary tradition. Folk theatre is common at the village level and usually takes place during harvest time or at Melas (village fairs). Traditional music involves mostly lyrics and little instrumental accompaniment reflects Sufism, lifestyle, nature, emotion, and socioeconomic condition. Major traditional musical instruments are the ektara, dotara, dhol, flute, table etc. Photography and Painting are also a great combination of traditions. Now a days, day, week or even month long painting or photography exhibition in different places shows the artists creativity. There is much to learn about the literature, entertainment and cuisine in Bangladesh. All of these form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. National occasions also mark Bangladeshi life, and these include Independence Day, Historic Language Martyr's Day (now observe as international mother language day), Victory Day etc.

Festivals and celebrations in Bangladesh

Festivals and celebrations are the part of parcel of the culture and customs of Bangladesh. Prominent and widely celebrated festivals in Bangladesh are described below in brief.

Pohela Boishakh Celebration in Bangladesh

Pohela Boishakh is the first day of the Bengali New Year. Now it is celebrated on the 14th of April of the Gregorian calendar. Celebrations of Pahela Baishakh started from Akbar’s reign. The main event of the day was to open a Halkhata (new fresh book) of accounts. This was wholly a financial affair. In villages, towns and cities, traders and shopkeepers closed their old account book and opened new one. They used to invite their customers to share sweets and renew their business relationship. This tradition is still practiced among the jewelers, local store-businessman, retailers etc. Pohela Boishakh is a public holiday. On the occasion the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in fine clothes depending on ability. Women particularly young girls dress up white saris with red borders and men clothed Punjabi, fatua with traditional art in Pahela Boishakh. They spend much time of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbors and going to fair. Fairs are arranged in different parts of the country where various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, various kinds of foods and sweets etc. are sold. These fairs also provide entertainment, with singers, dancers and traditional plays and songs. Horse races, bull races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, boat racing etc. The most colorful New Year’s Day festival takes place in the Ramna Batamul, Dhaka. Large numbers of people of different ages gather early in the morning under the banyan tree where Chhayanat’s artists open the day with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song, Esho, hey Boishakh, Esho Esho… (Come, hey Boishakh, Come, Come…).

Tradition meal in Pohela Boishakh
Panta Ilish
People celebrate this cultural festive starting their day having breakfast with Panta-Ilisha (plain boiled rice soaked overnight in water and slightly fermented & Hilsa Fish fry) supplemented with different kind of Vortas (saluted or fried vegetable with green or fried chilly and other spices) pickles, lentils etc. It is the traditional dish for the Pohela Boishakh festival. The dishes are served in a plate made by clay. Is it not fantastic (!)?

Eid-ul-Fitr:Muslim festivals follow a lunar calendar. After a month long fasting in Ramadan,  the  Holy Festival Eid-ul-Fitr comes with great joy and the occasion of social gathering. Eid ul Fitr is the most important religious festival for the majority Muslims community. The celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr has become a part of the culture of Bangladesh. People shop new dress and other necessary items much on the occasion. City dwellers who have families or parents in villages go to their country homes to meet relatives, friends & neighbors and celebrate the festival together. All outgoing public transports from the major cities become highly crowded and in many cases the fares rises up in spite of government restrictions.

Eid-ul-Azha: There are many similarities between the celebration of Eid ul-Azha and Eid ul-Fitr in many ways. The only major difference is the Qurbani (sacrifice of domestic animals) on Eid ul-Azha. It is the second major Muslim festival and is celebrated with much meat. Beside the permanent market, numerous temporary marketplaces of different sizes called Haat operate in various places for sale of Qurbani animals (usually cows and goats). The cows are then paraded along the streets and each animal is decorated with paper flower garlands and glitter. Each family that has ability buys cow, bull or goat to slaughter on the name of holy Allah. It is believed that the slaughtering is not animal but the all evil motives of minds. In this occasion, people and relatives are given meats who don’t have ability to buy any animals. This is a tradition of sharing. The occasion is also known as Sacrifice Eid.

Shab-E-Barat: At the full moon 14 days before the starting of Ramadan, Shab-e-Barat is a sacred night when sweetmeats are distributed to the poor, neighbors and relatives.

Durga Puja: Durga Puja is the biggest celebration of Hindu community. It is celebrated during October. On the occasion, the Debi Durga (Goddess) statues astride a lion, with her ten hands holding ten different weapons, are placed in not only regular Hindu temple but also enormous temporary stages. Hindu community shop new dress and so on knick-knack on the occasion. Almost all Puja stage, Village fair sits aside. It is now a day’s one of the most public gathering occasion. Puja stage and such fair is visited not only Hindu community but also all classes of people of Bangladesh.

Pahela Falgun/Bashanta Utshob: The day is celebrated on February 13. A colorful festival held to welcome Bashanto (spring). Attired in reddish-yellow saris with red border and hairs decorated with flowers, young girls and boys wearing traditional pajama and Punjabi, carrying flowers, took part in the colorful march. A good number of kids also got their attractive faces painted with different motifs including birds, national flag, butterflies etc. 

Shakrail/ Ghuri Festival it is another remarkable traditional festival.  Kite Festival is one of the ancient and popular traditions. People especially young boys fly different kinds and colorful kites on the occasion. It is still now celebrate widely in old Dhaka.

Nobanno (Harvesting Month): In the rural area, the farmers’ community starts harvesting and with this joy they celebrate Nobanno. They made PAYESH (Sweet dish made with rice and boiled milk), various kind of traditional rice cakes to celebrate Nobanno. 

PAUSH PARBON (Winter Season): In this season people celebrate Paush Parbon with Date Juice and various kinds of Pithas. Kuli pitha, Khajer pitha, Vapa pitha, chitai pitha and various date juice based pitha are remarkable. Grihasto (farmer) invites their married daughter and son of law on the occasion.

Aborginage Water Festival, a part of Bangladeshi Culture
Adibashi Water Festival
Adivasi festival: In the eve of the festival, women from the indigenous community demonstrated the magic of weaving to the audience. On the occasion water throwing game is most popular and eye catching. The basic of the game, boys and girls from opposite side throw water to one another and that side can attack more is winner!

Lifestyle of Bangladesh

Dress: Bangladeshi people have traditional dress preferences. Bangladeshi men wear Pajama-Punjabi or T-shirt on religious and cultural occasions and shirt pant on formal occasions. Lungi is the unique preference for Bangladeshi men. Almost all men at home wear Lungi.  Shari of different colors and patterns is the most common dress for Bangladeshi women. Salowar Kamij is also very popular, especially among the teen girls. Some girls in urban areas also wear pants, skirts and tops.

Jewelry: Every Bangladeshi woman has an exceptional point of view about Jewelry. Almost all the Bangladeshi women are fond of Gold and Silver. High or high middle classes people show their blue blood wearing diamond or platinum jewelries. Costume Jewelries are also most popular not only among the low earning group people but also educated and cultured guys. Gold is so popular in Bangladesh that it is must in every weeding ceremony. Hindu married women are easily identified by her wrist accessories and their Shidur which is dark red chemicals use in their middle of upper forehead.

Mehedi a part of Bangladeshi culture
Mehedi Art
Mehendi: It is another popular traditional art in Bangladesh. The design and color attract everybody. Mehendi made by pasting leaves of the plant Lawsonia Inermis. It is a decorative art that is applied as a part of daily life, festive occasions and weddings. The bridal mehendi designs are typically inspired by Mughal paintings mixed in with classical arts. Drawing hands of a bride and groom or the bridal procession are common as well.

Traditional Marriage Ceremony in Banglades

Settle marriage is popular in Bangladesh. Once the guardians (only) of bride and grooms settled such relation and the bride and groom’s opinions had minor priority. Now a day the situations has been improved and given the priority of bride and bride groom likes. Muslim faith based Bangladeshi society accepts the newly culture and made own form with the traditional customs of old and new practices. The Bangladeshi particularly middle class bride and bride groom want to start the family life with joy. Bangladeshis are believed to be protective band forever and almost all bride and bride groom perform faith to each other in the next portion of life. They invite all friends, neighbors and relatives as much possible on the weeding festival. Bangladeshi weeding ceremony has its own tradition and customs for days long.

Traditional Marriage ceremony of Bangladesh
Bangladeshi Traditional Marriage Festival

Cuisine and Culinary Tradition of Bangladesh

The region is famous for its illusive culinary tradition, and delicious food, dessert and snacks. Plain rice is the staple food and it is served with a variety of vegetables either fried or curry or even Bharta (cereals of various vegetables or fishes dry or fresh with spices that are absolutely delicious), egg, thick lentil soups, and fish or meat preparations of beef, mutton or fowl. Fish is the main source of protein, cultivated in ponds and the network of inland rivers of the Ganges delta. Marine fishes are also available. As Dessert Misti Dhohi, flat Chana, Sweetened Yogurt, Sandesh, Rasgolla, Ras Malai, Kalojam, Pudding etc are unique and you will know what it means! Kheer is also a great tasty milk based dessert. Sweetmeat is served to a guest any time of the day or night. A messenger who would carry good news to a relative or a man also accompanies those sweetmeats. Bengali cuisine is rich and varied with the use of many specialized spices and flavours. Tradition drinks are tea, Lassi, Sugarcane Juice, Lime and Date juices, Green Coconut Water are mentionable. Alcoholic drinks are not widely available. It is available in star hotels and renowned restaurants only.

Transport: Transport and communication in Bangladesh takes many forms. There are some transports as the part of culture and customs of Bangladesh. In rural areas bullock cart, buffalo cart and TomTom (Horse pulled car) are commonly used. In old Dhaka TomTom is still found. Bicycles are used both in rural and urban areas. Palki (A box-like shape carried on shoulders by six men) is traditional wedding transport. Bride is carried to the bridegroom’s house riding Palki and returns with bridegroom. The groom procession follows it as well. There is a unique Eco-friendly traditional rickshaw that is available all over the country for short journey. The green outer color of the CNG Auto Rickshaws in big cities reflects the Eco friendly awareness of Bangladesh. Beside it regular auto-rickshaw, Car, Bus, Train etc. are mentionable land transport for long journey. Bangladesh is a revering country and water transport system is very strong and luxurious and comparatively cheap. You can watch Bangladeshi village, local market and public places, corn fields, landscape etc when you travel and guess about culture and customs of Bangladesh. Air transport is also available among the big cities. There are eight domestic airports (active) for air transport. 

Social customs like birth, naming ceremony, Circumcision and death too have a distinct Bangladeshi flavors with each ethnic and religious group having their own unique way to mark these traditions.

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