Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a fish lover's paradise. Traditionally most of the country lives off of the once-bountiful fresh-water river fish, especially the officially designated "national fish" Hilsa. The Hilsa has a nice flavour but some may find the many fine bones difficult to manage; if you can master eating this fish, consider yourself on par with the locals in fish-eating and deboning expertise. Various recipes exist for cooking Hilsa, suitable for all seasons and all regions of the country. Mutton is also popular, as in most Muslim countries, as is decidedly lean or hard chicken. Rice is almost always the staple side dish.

Mixed vegetable curries are plentiful - potato, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are the staple ingredients. Gourds, tubers and certain root vegetables are common. In the major cities Dhaka, Chittagong, etc., you will find a larger variety of vegetables than in rural areas.

The idea of salad varies from the international standard. In Bangladesh, salad has not been extensively developed, and "kacha" raw vegetables are generally not deemed very appetizing or palatable with the exception of cucumbers, especially in more rural or suburban areas and in less Westernized households. Traditionally, most salad vegetables carrots, celery, lettuce, paprika, etc. were not even grown in most agrarian households, so the use of these vegetables was extremely rare. Hence, borrowing from the Mughal traditions, a few round slices of onions and cucumbers, spiced with salt, chilies, etc., is often treated as a full plate of salad.

Dal is usually a given side dish or meal course for all households, even the poorest or most rural who often cannot afford any other daily meal courses. Most Bangladeshi dal varies from its West Bengali counterpart, and even more so from its other Indian counterparts, primarily because it is more watery and less concentrated or spiced. An easy analogy would be that whereas most Indian dal is more like thick stew, most Bangladeshi dal is more like light soup or broth. The Hindus of Bangladesh have greater varieties of Dal recipes, just as they have greater varieties of vegetarian dishes. The Muslims have thicker and more spiced varieties of dal. Dal recipes vary regionally in Bangladesh, so be careful not to over-generalize after a brief experience.

Boiled eggs dhim are a popular snack Tk 3-5, and fresh fruit is abundant, such as bananas Tk 2/ea, apples Chinese, Tk 80-100/kg, oranges, grapes, pomegranates and papayas. Delicious and diverse, mangos Tk 50-150/kg are a very popular fruit throughout Bangladesh.

Fast food restaurants and bakeries serving burgers, kababs, spring rolls, vegetable patties and just about anything else you can throw in a deep fryer are dotted around most cities. Most items will run around Tk 10/each.Bangladesh also has international fast food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W, Nando's, Tekiya.

To enjoy the tastes of Dhaka one needs to go to old Dhaka. The Haji biriyani, Nanna biriyani are a must. Also Al Razzak restaurant is famous for its Shahi food. To savour local food one must go to Korai Gost at Dhanmondi Satmosjid road, Kasturi restaurant at Gulshan & Purana Paltan area. No one should leave Bangladesh without tasting the Phuchka and Chatpati available in the streets of Dhaka,Chittagong. Also there are loads of Chinese and Thai restaurants in Bangladesh which serve localized chinese and thai dishes.Bailey road in Dhaka is the unofficial food street of the nation followed by Satmoshjid Road.Dhaka also has Japanese, Korean and Indian restaurants located mostly in Gulshan area. For world class Ice creams do visit Moven pick, Club gelato in Gulshan. To taste Kebab, Babecue tonight in Dhanmondi is the best followed by Koyla in Gulshan.

Most Bangladeshis eat with their right hand as in neighboring countries. Never use your left hand to bring food to your mouth, though it's ok to use it for bringing a glass to your mouth or to serve food from a common dish with a spoon. Every restaurant will have a handwashing station sometimes just a pitcher of water and a bowl if they don't have running water, and you should use this before and after the meal. To eat with your hand, rake in a little portion of the rice and a bit of the curry to an open space on your plate usually create a bit of space on the side of the plate closest to you, sufficiently inward from the rim but NOT in the centre of the plate, and mix the rice and curry with your fingers. Then, create a little ball or mound it should be compact and modestly sized, but does not need to be perfectly shaped or anything--function over form! of the mixture and pick it up with all your fingers, and scoop in into your mouth. Your fingers should not enter your mouth in the process, and your upper fingers and palms should not get dirty either. Only toddlers and foreigners/tourists are exempted from these rules. It doesn't matter a whole lot if you don't get it all exactly right, but know that the entire restaurant is watching and waiting to see if you do. Attempting to eat with your hands and failing miserably will raise many a smile. The use of cutlery except serving spoons for common dishes is lacking in rural areas and poorer households, and only basic cutlery of spoons, or sometimes a fork is sometimes available in urban restaurants and more Westernised, urban households. However, the use of hands is a more humble and culturally respectful gesture, especially from a tourist.

Table-sharing is acceptable and even expected in most establishments, with the exception of nicer urban restaurants. Many places have separate curtained-off booths for women and families, a nice reprieve from prying eyes.