Cuisines of Central Bengal – Mymensingh and Dhaka

Central Bengal, which includes the divisions of Mymensingh and Dhaka, has a complex mix of cuisine influenced by Mughlai, Central Asian, Armenian, Hindustani, and native Bengali cuisines. Dhaka, the capital city, is a prime example of this gastronomic combination. Especially the old Dhaka is a living example of this. From their street foods to their staples, almost all the food there has an origin story. Mymensingh on the other hand has something different to offer. While they do have the same cuisine as the capital city it is the native cuisines that will captivate you. The primary diet is plain rice and curry (either fish or beef), but the preparation differs from that of the rest of the country. Mymensingh residents are known for their love of spicy food. Most food items are seasoned with green pepper, shallots, and citrus fruit.

To be fair, Central Bengal’s dishes have something to offer for everyone. Now let’s take a look at some of the dishes that you absolutely cannot miss while you are Central Bengal Region of Bangladesh

Sheermal Taftan Naan Kulcha Roti

Sheermal Taftan Naan Kulcha

Traditonal Bakarkhani Flat Bread

Bakarkhani Flat Bread

Bakarkhani and Sheermal: Even though rice is a mainstay in Bangladesh, people also consume a variety of breads. People in old Dhaka, in particular, enjoy breads such as taaftan, naan, sheermal, bakarkhani, and a few more. Two of the most iconic bread items in Dhaka are Sheermal and Bakarkhani. Bakarkhani is a popular Mughlai flatbread made from maida flour combined with semolina, sugar, ghee, cardamom, and almonds.

The dough is traditionally baked in a tandoor oven, and the bread is often sprinkled with poppy or nigella seeds. It has a soft crust on the exterior, while the texture on the interior is tender and flaky. Bakarkhani used to be reserved for the royalty in the past, and it got its name after a tragic love story between a general named Aga Bakar and a dancer named Khani Begum. Although nowadays it’s most often associated with Bangladesh (especially Dhaka), it can also be found in India and Pakistan. Sheermal or Shirmal is a saffron-flavored traditional flatbread. It is made out of maida, leavened with yeast, baked in a tandoor or oven. Shirmal has basic ingredients of flour and semolina (suji). It was traditionally made like roti but now it is prepared more like a naan bread. The warm water in the recipe for naan roti is replaced with warm milk sweetened with sugar and flavored with saffron and cardamom. The final product resembles Danish pastry.

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  • Sheermal Taftan Naan Kulcha Roti
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Gopal Pal’s Monda from Muktagacha: Monda is a delicious traditional sweet that has a great reputation for being completely unique, delicious, and addictive around the whole country. This sweet treat has a long history that goes back to 1824, when it was first made by Ram Gopal Pal. When Gopal Pal showed his creation to Maharaja Suryakanta Acharya Chowdhury, a famous zamindar of Muktagacha, that marked the beginning of his fame. Maharaja Suryakanta was so impressed by how good it tasted that he told Gopal Pal to serve Monda to important guests and gave him money to help him grow his business. Gopal Pal’s children and grandchildren have carefully kept the secret of Monda’s great taste a secret. Surprisingly, Monda doesn’t need to be kept cold. Under normal conditions, it stays fresh for about five days in the hot summer and up to ten or twelve days in the cold winter. The famous shop, which is named “Shingha Marka Monda” in honor of Gopal Pal, is located in Muktagaccha, Mymensingh. It has a large picture of a lion on the front, which represents the pride and history of this beloved sweet treat.

Lassi Sweet Drink

Lassi

Lassi: Lassi is a traditional yogurt-based drink that is popular in Indian cuisine and has now become an inseparable part of Dhakaiya cuisine. You cannot have a plate of biriyani without washing it down with a glass of lassi. You can also have a glass of lassi to beat the hot and humid weather of Bangladesh. This simple beverage is made with yogurt, water, and typically some spices and/or fruit. Lassi can be either sweet or salty, spicy, or savory. Almost every store that sells biriyani also sells lassi in Dhaka. However, some of the most famous lassi places that have almost become household names are Nurani Cold Drinks and Beauty Lassi.

Kacchi Biryani: Any writing about Dhaka’s cuisine will be incomplete without mentioning Kacchi biryani. It is a traditional and aromatic rice dish that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Unlike other biryanis, kachchi biryani is prepared by layering raw marinated meat with partially cooked rice and then slow-cooking in a sealed pot, allowing the flavours to meld together. This unique cooking technique creates a rich and flavourful dish with tender meat and fragrant rice. Kacchi Biryani is a popular dish in Bangladesh, and it is often served at weddings and other celebrations. There are many restaurants in Dhaka where you can find Kacchi Biryani, but some of the best include Grand Nawab, Kacchi Bhai, and Kolkata Kacchi Ghor. Each restaurant has its own unique take on the dish, so it’s worth trying a few to find your favorite.

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Mutton Kacchi Biryani

So which one of these dishes are you dying to taste? These are, however, merely a few dishes that shine through Central Bengal’s food map. There are many more famous and delicious foods, and writing about all of them in one article is not possible. Especially if I were to write about street foods of Dhaka, it would take a whole separate article. Which foods of Central Bengal are your favorite? What would you like me to write more about? Let me know through comments.

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