Traditional Foods in Bangladesh is characterized by the use of many fresh ingredients flavored with spices. Bangladesh has a rich and varied culinary tradition, shaped by the diverse cultures and influences that have shaped the country over centuries. Rice is the staple food of the country and is served with a variety of flavorful curries and side dishes. Fish is also a dominant ingredient in Bengali food. Traditional Bangladeshi food reflects the country’s past as part of the Bengal region and its location between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Most Popular Traditional Foods in Bangladesh
- Rice is the foundation of most meals in Bangladesh. Plain steamed rice, known as bhat, is served with just about everything. aromatic varieties of rice like basmati, kalijira and chinigura are prized in Bangladesh. Biryani, a fragrant rice dish seasoned with spices and meat or vegetables, is a highlight of special occasions. Pulao is another spiced rice preparation that is popular across Bangladesh. It’s made with pieces of meat or vegetables mixed with aromatic rice. Another specialty is kachchi biryani, featuring layers of raw marinated meat and raw rice that cook together.
- Curries are central to Bangladeshi cuisine. They come in many varieties, usually featuring a blend of spices simmered with meat, fish, vegetables or eggs. Some quintessential Bengali curries include kosha mangsho (a spicy mutton curry), doi maach (fish curry with yogurt), alu dum (potatoes cooked in a spiced gravy), shorshe bata diye maach (fish curry with mustard paste) and shukto (a mix of vegetables). The curries are enriched with tadka, a tempering of garam masala spices sizzled in hot oil or ghee.
- With many rivers crisscrossing the country, fish is popular in Bangladesh. Hilsa, a common fish found in the region, is considered the unofficial national fish and is enjoyed fried, in curries and in many other preparations. Other popular fish like rohu, katla, magur and pangash are also used in the cuisine. Jhal muri (spiced puffed rice with vegetables and fried fish) is a popular street snack. Panta bhat (fermented rice with fried fish) is also much loved.
- A wide variety of flatbreads are eaten to scoop up meat and vegetable curries. Luchis are small, puffy, deep-fried flatbreads made from wheat flour that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Paratha is a multi-layered flatbread that is pan-fried with oil or ghee. Another classic is luchi stuffed with vegetables or meat fillings. Nan bread is also common.
Snacks and Sweets
- Bangladesh has a wonderful tradition of snacks and sweets. Samosa, borhani and pakora are savory snacks, while jilapi, rosogolla, and chomchom are classic Bengali desserts made with milk, sugar and nuts. Mishti doi (sweet yogurt) provides a nice contrast to spicy curries. Sandesh and rasmalai are other sweet treats popular in Bangladesh.
Vegetables and Legumes
- Vegetables like potol (pointed gourd), okra, eggplant, pumpkin, cabbage and a variety of gourds and leafy greens are widely used. Legumes also feature prominently. Popular dal preparations are made with lentils, split peas, chickpeas and mung beans. A traditional comfort food is khichuri, a aromatic rice and lentil preparation.
- Tea or cha is hugely popular in Bangladesh and an integral part of cuisine. Bangladeshi tea culture encompasses creative additions like lemon, mint and ginger. Borhani is a cool yogurt drink enjoyed with spicy food. Shorbot is a savory lassi-like beverage based on yogurt. Fruit drinks like tukme sharbat ( custard apple) and coconut water provide refreshment.
Here are some common questions people ask about Traditional Foods in Bangladesh
What are the main ingredients used in Bangladeshi cooking?
- Some core ingredients used in traditional Bangladeshi cuisine include rice, lentils, vegetables like eggplant and potatoes, fish, meat like mutton and chicken, dairy products like yogurt and milk, and spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, and garam masala.
What are some typical Bangladeshi breakfast foods?
- Some popular Bangladeshi breakfast items are luchi (puffy fried flatbread), paratha (flatbread cooked with oil or ghee), chickpea curry, lentil soup, nasta (spiced mung beans), cholar dal, vegetables, omelettes, yogurt and fresh fruits.
What are some traditional Bangladeshi street foods?
- Famous Bangladeshi street foods include jhal muri (spice puffed rice), chotpoti/cholar dal (spiced chickpeas), peaju (green coconut water), pitha (savory rice cakes), phuchka (crispy hollow puri with fillings), aloo chop (potato croquettes), and bhajia (vegetable fritters).
What types of breads are eaten in Bangladesh?
- Common traditional breads in Bangladesh are luchi, paratha, roti, nan, taawa roti (griddle bread), and a variety of rice breads like pitha. These are enjoyed with meals, snacks or as a quick breakfast.
What are some desserts unique to Bangladesh?
- Iconic Bengali sweets include roshogolla, sandesh, malpoa, pantua, rajbhog, chomchom, jalebi, and kalo jam. Sweets made from chhana (milk curd) like rasmalai are also popular.
What drinks are most associated with Bangladeshi cuisine?
- Bangladesh is renowned for its tea culture. Black tea spiced with ginger or mint is widely consumed. Other popular beverages are lassi-like borhani, coconut water, fruit sharbats and yogurt drinks like mattha and matha mora.
What are some differences between Bangladeshi and West Bengali cuisine?
- While the cuisines share similarities, Bangladeshi food uses more beef and fish compared to West Bengal, which has more vegetarian influences. Bangladeshi curries tend to use less dairy products like ghee and milk than their West Bengali counterparts. The spices also vary slightly between the two regions.
What are some festivals celebrated with special foods in Bangladesh?
- Bangladeshi festivals like Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year), Eid ul-Fitr and Durga Puja have extensive menus of traditional foods in bangladesh like narikel er paan (coconut stuffed pancakes), sheer khurma and luchi mangsho (mutton curry with puffy bread). Sweets are also an integral part of festive feasting.