imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Jul 5,2007

Everyone complains about it. Now take a look at this analysis by Save the Children:

New research from the British charity Save the Children, shows that if a Bangladeshi family wanted to eat a simple nutritious diet, they would have to spend three times their salary on food. That’s like the average British family - which according to official figures has an annual income of £29,000 - running up a £1,700 bill at the supermarket each week.

The research calculated how much a healthy diet, based on local produce and allowing for seasonal factors such as flooding or lean seasons, would cost in four impoverished countries and then worked it out as a proportion of the average national income. The ratios were multiplied by the average British income to cast it in terms with which British consumers could identify.

Chingri Bhortha

  • Filed under: Food
Jun 20,2007


I was a tad disappointed when I first went to eat at Tommy Miah’s Heritage restaurant in Gulshan. I was promised a range of borthas. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was no chingri bortha. Beans, potatoes etc but no prawns. And of course as we all know there is nothing more delicious than mashed prawns.

So these days whenever I have a bit of time I make bortha. Lately I have been waiting for the DHL man quite a bit. And I have discovered that the wait is made much more palatable with a plate of chingri bortha and rice. In fact I have developed a peculiar Pavlovian type syndrome. Whenever someone says DHL or I think of DHL, I start salivating.

So here is ONE variation on the theme:

1. prawns. Fried in very little oil so that they get seared a little. Releases that crustacean aroma.

2. Fry dried chillis until blackish.

3. Wait for the chillis to cool down. Add raw onions and mash the mixture with your fingers! Salt to taste - add plenty.
4. Serve with rice.

It should look like above (taken with my new equally delicious olympus sp550)

Apr 18,2007

A few years ago I gave up reading The Guardian because of its take on Blairite things. I started getting The Indie. It chimed with my anti-war and anti-Blair thinking. However I have to put up with a lot of environmental scare-mongering including headline titles like the one above.

This article is a spread with several photographs if you have the printed version.

Bhapa peeta

  • Filed under: Food
Nov 27,2006

One of the main reasons for coming to Dhaka in winter is of course to eat winter specific grub. Check this dumpling - made of steamed crushed rice and with a filling of coconut and date sugar. Bengalis like to think its their winter morning dish….well the truth is that this dumpling is popular in many parts of South East Asia, and I wouldn’t be surprised - given its method of preparation - if it comes from China. One variation, Rahima tells me, is that you can spice up the inside mix with ginger. Delicious with a cuppa, I tell ya. (pics with Nokia N91)

dumpling bangladesh

Got Banglalink? Get Tommy Miah!

  • Filed under: Food
Oct 7,2006

Well his recipes at least. Yes yet another use of texting technology in Bangladesh.

Recipes by the Edinburgh-based chef known as the Curry King can now be ordered by text message in his native Bangladesh.
Leading city restaurateur Tommy Miah, owner of The Raj in Leith, is a celebrity chef with his own television show in Bangladesh.

I am trying to keep abreast of this proliferating use of sms. So far in this blog I have noted that you can call the fire service, dig for arsenic free water, contribute to good causes and get mouthwatering recipes all by sms technology.

Review of KFC in Gulshan, Dhaka

  • Filed under: Food
Oct 2,2006

It seems a lot of you are searching for KFC and finding my earlier entry on the restaurant. Now that I have been to the restaurant I am in a position to give you my thoughts. And people - please don’t lift my images again. Get your own! You will have to buy me a plate of beryani somehwere in Dhaka if you do…

counter of KFC Gulshan

Colonel KFC, Gulshan Dhaka

KFC Gulshan Dhaka
Now for the review. In a word, its chicken shit crap. If Pizzahut up the road can taste like the original, indeed even better, then why not KFC? The gleaming, shining interior promises so much. Yet the taste is nothing like KFCs elsewhere, and believe me I have tried them the world over….The original flavour chicken pieces are not original flavour at all. And the zinger burger was unrecognisable. The mayo tasted strange and there is an inedible spicy sauce alternative to the ketchup. AVOID. I was with another aficionado, a petuk of grand proportions, and he agreed with my conclusions. The only thing they got “right” were the fries. What is the point of such a fancy place if only the aloo bhaji is edible? The chef needs to do something - maybe a new batch of massala from HQ? Don’t let the side down Mr Chef - inward foreign investment is at stake!

Things I saw in Dhaka

Sep 21,2006

Yesterday. You remember my post about the innovative use of sms for finding water levels free of arsenic by sms? Well how about this use of texting technology: for calling the fire brigade in an emergency! Presumably they phone you back and get the details? Or perhaps they use gsm positioning and locate you and whizz down and hose you down?

sms for fire brigade

And as the caretaker government is about to take over - yes it is a curiosity in world politics this caretaker thing - blogs about Bangladesh will be in a frenzy I am sure. I have decided to concentrate on fashion issues and leave the serious stuff to the boys over at DP. To kick off, how about this geezer’s election poster? I mean is that a wacky shirt or is that a wacky shirt? Psychedelic man. And the tie is no less worthy of mention. And that blazer/suit jacket - oversized by about 3 sizes? What do you reckon? And notice the insets of Zia and Khaleda - compare their respective sizes with that of Mr T in the top left corner?

BNP election poster (Bangladesh)

My mate is MD of Nandan. I am not really name dropping. I have never got a discount off the bastard…nevermind. Anyway, I still patronise the place and here are some tasty mutton heads for your delectation:

mutton heads

Jhaal Muri guy

Aug 30,2006

Inspired by Rumi’s recent lament about the demise of jhal muri vendors in the streets of Dhaka (and their replacement by popcorn selling kids), I took a camera phone video (Nokia N91) of one such vendor on the way to Faridpur last week. Sadly the embedding code does not work and so i will need to post it HERE. Click the image when you get to that page.  And below is a top view of this tasty roadside snack.
jhaal muri

Junk food in Dhaka

Aug 25,2006

Ah yes the big daddy of junk food - KFC -  is opening very soon! I won’t hear a bad word about them despite the grease and fat and low wages etc… was one of the very few things I enjoyed during my chemo days. Here is a picture of the work in progress. You will have to wait three or four weeks I should think judging by the state of play. In Gulshan 1 near Aarong and opposite Banglalink.

KFC in Dhaka


  • Filed under: Food
Aug 24,2006

I have just had the most amazing dessert on a British Airway’s flight to Dhaka. A fantastic creation by Vineet Bhatia ( the celebrated indian chef/restaurateur). What was it? Well it was the humble rice pudding but reincarnated in an unrecognisable form and floating in a mango coulis. It was bloody awesome. Club world only I think sadly.

If this dessert is anything to go by, I shall be making a bee-line to his restaurants in london. Anyone been?

Zidane for Bangladesh!

Jul 9,2006

The great Zidane is headed for Bangladesh in November. Does anyone know Mohammed Yunus sufficiently well to get me an autograph of Zizou?? I will be your best mate for ever.

ZZ will be acting as an ambassador for french company Danone who are setting up a joint-venture project with Grameen to establish a plant in Bogra.

The plant will produce energy-giving yoghurt to meet the nutritional needs of the children, and around 50 such plants will set up in different parts of the country if the yoghurt produced by the plant is successful in reducing the utritional deficiencies of the children in poverty-stricken Bangladesh.

Incredible no?

May 18,2006

Mr Naga pickle

Want to know what the most under-rated export is from Bangladesh? It is Mr Naga - a fantastically tasty pickle made from Naga chillis and of world class quality. Words cannot do this pickle justice. Its aroma alone is enough to make you salivate. You just have to try it. Live on your own and want to make your food tastier? Mr Naga will do the job. Want to give mum’s tarkari that extra bit of pezzaz? Mr Naga is your pickle. Sadly, it is not available anywhere in the beloved country. I have tried to locate it in Uttara and Gulshan but without success.

Yes true this particular export will have limited appeal. Only those with a fire resistant palate will appreciate it. And it is not even a marinade like the delicious South African Nando’s marinades or the equally delicious Walker’s Wood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning but for all that it is damn good, and punches with the rest of them. Head over to Brick Lane and get some now. You will be addicted soon enough BUT NOT in the way some BD Foods exports are likely to be addictive ;-) Mr Naga is now even available in Scotland! I am writing to my local Sainsbury’s to get them to stock it.

Lost in transliteration

May 5,2006


I feel French all of a sudden. I can now see why the frogs get so upset at the anglicisation of their language. You see these delicious deshi crispy things above? Well I have asked three people now what they are called. Two responded by saying “syringe peetha” and one gormless chap from Uttara said they are called “sheereej peetha.”

These things are created with a syringe and hence the name.  That was the explanation they gave after seeing my growing bewilderment. Surely this cannot be right?!!! How can we let this yummy snack have a name derived from a medical instrument and even then its english name? What is the bangla for syringe for heaven’s sake?? Surely not sheereej?

Mar 28,2006

The liberal and the conservative libertarian view of immigration is that it is good for society. Immigrants fill the demand for particular categories of jobs, they work hard and contribute to wealth creation. It was a view I encountered in a slightly unexpected setting: a taxi ride in Cambridge, UK. The conversation with the driver went like this:

Taxi Driver: So where are you from?
me: Scotland, mate.
Taxi Driver: (Laughs) No I mean originally.
me: Oh I see. Originally from Bangladesh. And you? (knowing well that he is a local chap)
Taxi Driver: (Laughs) So you must be a millionaire then?
me: em..What? Sorry I don’t follow…
Taxi Driver: All you Bangladeshis come over here with twenty pounds in your pockets and then you become millionaires….

I twigged what he meant. He was referring to the phenomenal success of Bangladeshi owned restaurants in the UK.  I was astonished by this summary of Bangladeshis. I was still under the impression that Bangladesh is exclusively associated with floods or the George Harrison concert but here was a view where Bangladesh is associated with wealth and, more importantly, wealth creation. For a second I got nervous.   Was his a liberal/libertarian view or was his comment tinged with xenophobia? Was he begrudging the success of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs ? I tested him:

me: So, do you like curries?
Taxi Driver: I love ‘em mate. Been to all the curry houses in the area. Know the owners of….

He reeled off a long list and asked whether I knew some of these formidable restaurateurs..He counted some as his friends. As we discussed restaurants and as I bemoaned the bastardization of the curry in the UK, I tested him further. Tell me, I said, what else do you know about Bangladesh. His answer was not totally unexpected: “Well there’s that bird Fariah Alam.” He even got her name right…I suppose that is only to be expected, as I do believe Fariah has received more headline news coverage in the UK than any other Bangladeshi woman ever!  So there you have it. The new image we are projecting here in the UK is that we are successful entrepreneurs and we have a b-list celebrity who bonks top football officials. I gave the chap a huge tip and wished he was a PR consultant for the Bangladesh High Commission here. Believe me, I would rather project this image than one associated with fundamentalism, bombs and carnage.