Eating at Home in Dhaka

This plate of food was one of the many delicious meals I enjoyed last week.  It has my favorites: tiny fish cooked with onions and peppers, daal/lentil, rice, shrimp with squash curry and mashed pumpkin (bharta). My plate is missing the small fried fish and the fried squash blossoms. None of this would be available…

September On Jessore Road – Food Poem by Allen Ginsberg

This is not a celebration of food poem but rather about scarcity. Allen Ginsberg was writing about famine and war in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, 1971. Millions of babies watching the skies Bellies swollen, with big round eyes On Jessore Road–long bamboo huts Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts Millions of fathers in rain…

Shrimp Koftas In Coconut Sauce

This recipe, from Khulna, is adapted from my favorite Bangladeshi Regional Cookbook. It is similar to the traditional coconut shrimp recipe, Chingri Malaikari except the shrimp is formed into koftas (meatballs) and the sauce is spicy, sweet because of the combination of  roasted onions and chili powder. The ground shrimp balls are airy and almost…

Eating Glocal

  My lunch in Dhaka, Bangladesh today. It was surprisingly good. Fried chicken meets South Asia…chopped, stir  fried with onions, green chilies, cilantro and served with rice. Did it taste like something from KFC? Not really. But, the packaging insisted otherwise. By the end of the meal I was almost convinced that it was an…

Bored with Biryani

Seventeenth century Dutch traveler, Frans Jansz van der Heiden, describes Biryani, a rice and meat dish in South Asia, in his travel account, as follows: “…..We were brought int a beautiful hall [and] there we were served a very rich dish, biryani. The guards told us that it was never prepared better for kings and…

Reading stolen pages in the Kitchen

I read in and around my kitchen habitually. And, took the privilege for granted. Until, I came across an essay in The Bangladesh Reader (Duke, 2013) about Rashundari Debi, a housewife who taught herself to read and even more miraculously who published “My Life,” the first Bengali autobiography written by a woman in 1897. This…

“…there was a…

“…there was a tradition called Amani, according to which the woman of the house would, the night before, soak rice and the twig of a mango tree in a pot of water and on the morning of the new year, sprinkle it on everyone of the family. This was based on a magical belief that…