3 minute read

The Taste of Bangladesh

Whenever I’m home from college, I find myself indulging in savory cultural snacks, which are an essential part of Bengali cuisine. I always amp up the flavor by adding way more spices than I need to and end up torturing my taste buds. Am I ever going to stop? Probably not. Now you maybe wondering why I’m so keen on putting my mouth on fire whenever I snack. The truth is Bengali food is irresistible and it’s impossible for me to stay away from it.

The word jhal, which means spicy in Bengali, is often used to describe the food of Bangladesh. Our dishes are packed with packed with immense flavors containing a wide array of South Asian spices. The significance of Bengali cuisine doesn’t just stop at its fiery taste as it goes beyond to make the perfect addition to your Instagram feed with its blend of smooth, crunchy and colorful ingredients.

If you’re looking to give your tastebuds a little flare, take some aesthetically pleasing photos of food, and experience the taste of Bangladesh, you should try out these recipes I have compiled straight from my family’s kitchen. They’re all easy to make and contain just the right amount of heat. However, if you’re a daredevil like me, feel free to adjust the amount of spices to your liking. The best part is, these recipes are vegetarian, healthy and the ingredients can be found at most big name supermarkets. What are you waiting for? Go get your jhal on!

Jhal Muri

Jhal muri, or spicy puffed rice, is a popular street food found all across Bangladesh. Vendors wearing a box around their necks containing the ingredients for this flaming concoction frequently get bombarded by pedestrians eager to try this snack. Go ahead and mix up your own version of this recipe at home.

Ingredients:

2 cups puffed rice

1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 small cucumber, chopped

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1/2 of a small tomato, finely diced

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/ 2 a lime

2 teaspoon mustard oil

1 /4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

In order to make jhal muri, we are going to start with the base. Add the puffed rice and the cooked chickpeas in a large bowl. Proceed to mix the two ingredients lightly so the chickpeas don’t get squished.

Add in the cucumber, onion, chilli pepper and tomato. Continue mixing with a light hand and set aside when done.

Next, we are going to move on to the dressing for the jhal muri. Squeeze out the lime juice in a smaller bowl and add the mustard oil. Put the cumin powder and red chilli powder into the dressing and mix thoroughly.

Drizzle the dressing over the puffed rice mixture. Make sure it’s evenly spread out beforemixing thoroughly. Garnish with cilantro.

Chotpoti

Perhaps one of the most delicious Bengali dish is chotpoti, which is another popular street snack. It contains the perfect combination of hot and sour flavors guaranteed to make your taste buds go wild.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup white peas

1 1/2 tablespoon chaat masala

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1-2 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 chopped hard boiled eggs

1/2 chopped small onion

2 diced boiled potatoes

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 tomato finely diced

2-4 chopped green chili peppers

5-7 teaspoons tamarind sauce

Directions:

Start by soaking the white peas in room temperature water overnight (at least for 5 hours) and cook until the beans are tender. You can find the ingredient at South Asian grocery stores, but chickpeas work as an excellent substitute if you don’t live near one.

Once the peas are cooked, drain half of the water and add the eggs, onions and potatoes. Add in the chaat masala, cumin powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, black pepper, and salt. Mix well. Chaat Masala is also sold at South Asian Grocery Stores. Double the other spices used if you can’t find it.

Add in the hard boiled eggs, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and green chilli to the base and mix well. Garnish with a few teaspoon of tamarind sauce and cilantro. The dish is ready to be served.

Borhani

No meal is complete without a drink. Borhani, one of the spiciest yet refreshing beverages known to humankind, is often accompanies biriyani and other rice dishes. Although this recipe may not be for the faint of her, it’s extremely flavorful.

Ingredients:

3 cups plain yogurt

3 teaspoons chopped mint leaves

2 -3 chopped green chillies

2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 /4 teaspoon salt, teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water

Directions:

Add yogurt followed by the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until it reaches a liquid consistently.

Keep the drink refrigerated for at least an hour before serving.