Bangladesh

Crispy Fried Small Bengali Fish – Tengra Biran with Aubergine and Pepper Bazi

We eat many small fish in Bangladesh as they do in Thailand and Cambodia. Different types come in different sizes. The smallest being Khesri, which is only between 1 and 2 cm long. And by small I mean small. Haven’t a clue what it’s called in any other language. They are just 1 cm long and you eat them in a fish curry with thousands of them. I guess these are impossible to de-gut but I’ll ask my mum tomorrow.

There are many different types anything from 1cm to 10cm long. You can buy them in London in frozen blocks in the Bangladeshi groceries all over the East End.

Here’s a delicious and easy way to prepare these mini crunchy starter snacks of Bengali cuisine.

tengra mas, small bengali fish

The Tengra Mas before and after….! And the Aubergine Pepper Bazi.Heavenly or what!! 🙂

P1080393-1-btengra mas biran, bengali fried small fish

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Categories: Bangladesh, Fish, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back to the Recipes – Bengali Beef Curry

So now back to recipe writing! Otherwise I’ll never clear the backlog and make space for more exciting and new culinary creations:)! The emotional stuff will then seep into the blog as and when anyway.

Here’s a classic Bengali dish that I love and we have both at my parents in London and with my family in Bangladesh. Of course there’s a difference in the dish depending on who cooks it. Cooking is a tradition that’s gets primarily passed on from mothers to daughters so they are able to cook for their future hubbies (not a bad thing). I left home in my late teens and of course could not imagine the possibility of life without Bengali food. So my mum showed me a couple of my favourite dishes which I then cooked again and again. And if you can cook one Bengali dish then the others follow naturally. I cooked bengali chicken curry and my all time ever favourite dish in the world- bengali lamb chop curry with potatoes and tomatoes. Yumm!! 🙂 Of course only my mum’s version of the chop  curry is my number 1! She is after all the best cook in the world. Anyone can of course validly dispute this with their own mothers or fathers :-).

Anyway, here is a recipe of neither of the above dishes but a Bengali Beef Curry with potatoes (we love our meat curries with potatoes in my family).

When I cook Bengali dishes I tend to add a twist like kaffir lime leaves or galangal. Both of these I have never seen in Bangladesh. Neither have I seen pak choi or lemongrass. But as I love these ingredients, I throw them in when I feel like it. For an authentic Bengali curry dish, leave these out. There are also many supplementary spices that are used to really add another dimension to the flavour and subtle aromas from this rich multitude of deliciously combined spices. I’m always amazed how so many different flavours are wonderfully combined and nurture and complement each other for the taste buds to reach new sensual highs. That must have taken centuries to get it right. The supplementary spices can include: whole black pepper, mustard seeds,  fennel seeds, anise and more that I can’t think of right now.

I’m not using mixed curry powder in these recipes as they are not used widely in Bangladesh. Everyone uses freshly ground spices  like I have. We do use them in London though. I’ll write about this in the coming week.

bengali beef curry with potatoes

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Categories: Bangladesh, Beef, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Gooseberry, Leboir in Bengali, Ka’tuat in Khmer

So I’m continuing my fruit posts with another strange and wonderful fruit – the star gooseberry. Leboir in Bengali and Ka’tuat in Khmer.

The only reason I know the English name is because I saw it in the local super expensive supermarket where you can get every western food you can dream of at ridiculously inflated prices. And additionally all the Khmer fruit,  veg and fish have the English names stuck on a label. Of course some Khmer foods don’t seem to have English names-so they’ve just stuck on the Khmer name written in English.

There’s a tree of this fruit in the garden of my friend S. It’s not his garden but a communal one for everyone living there. But me and my GF just can’t resist picking a handful of these fruits everytime (almost everyday shall I say :-)) we visit him. We then slop away at the tiny treats of extreme sourness with….wait for it- something called ‘ambeul rotee’. I think it’s chicken stock powder or something similar. Very salty with lots of flavour! But you can enjoy it with salt or a salt & chilli mix or even add sugar for a slight sweetness that goes well with the sour!!

I’ve never seen these fruits in Europe. But I have seen them in a package in dried form  here in the supermarket. So maybe it’s available like this in some supermarket near you??

star gooseberry on a tree

The beloved star gooseberry tree – there’s not so many left now. A month ago the branches were literally yellow overflowing with star gooseberries 🙂

star gooseberry with salt

Star gooseberry with ‘ambeul rotee’, a salt and I dunnno what mixture! Oh and the lime dropped by for a quick hello 😉

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Categories: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fruit, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One of My Favourite Fruits in the World – the Jujube -‘Boroi’ in Bengali, ‘Puthrea’ in Khmer

This is a favourite fruit of many Bengali kids around the world!! You can get it dried all times of the year or fresh at that particular time of year when they ripen on the trees in Bangladesh. My happiest childhood memories come from when I was 10 and spent 6 months in Bangladesh with my parents and sisters visiting my HUGE extended family. I was too young to appreciate the family but remember throwing stones at the ‘boroi gas’ jujube trees with my cousins and then jumping on the fallen jujubes with screams of glee and joy!!

Jujube

 

Above the normal jujube ‘boroi’ varying in size a little larger than a pea to a cherry.

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Categories: About me, Bangladesh, Fruit, Home & Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fried Small Fish-Tengra Biran-Another Bengali Fried Fish Dish!! ‘Trey Ka’choh’

It’s funny how so many fish types I know from Bangladesh are also found here in Cambodia-I also noticed many in Thailand. This small fish is a delicacy in Bangladesh. To me it tastes the same as many other small fish. The bones are a pain because they are small and you can either crunch through them if they’ve been deep fried (most bengalis have been practicing this art since they were kids) or you can peel off the flesh and take out the back-bone (is that what you call it in a fish??)

Anyway, I made this dish over 2 months ago now. That’s how behind I am with posting my recipes. But the method is similar for most Bengali fried fish dishes-the ingredients can differ slightly sometimes but the basics are the same. The most important ingredients are garlic, turmeric and of course salt and chilli.

The fish is called ‘Tengra’ in Bengali and ‘Trey Ka’choh’ in Khmer!!

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Categories: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fish, Recipes, Side Dish, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

View from a CNG (what the fuck’s a CNG?) – more pics from Dhaka

This is called a CNG (or vostok) in Bangladesh. In English it’s called an auto-rickshaw. They are imported from India, and are by far my favourite mode of transport in Bangladesh. The feeling of freedom cos there’re no doors and I still never fell out; the capacity to fit in more than 8 grown ups plus chickens, children and babies. And sometimes even motorcycles…..I love it!!

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Categories: Bangladesh, Home & Travel, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Expat Dhaka – still a dump!! Me ‘n my big city life…..

Most of my life I’ve spent in sprawling mega cities and thought that anything less would drive me to a creative suicide out of shear boredom from the cows, trees and endless untouched nature. But after more than 18 months here in Asia, I’ve spent almost a year in a very small village (my birthplace) in Bangladesh.  And some of the time in a small city (that resembles a large village) namely Siem Reap, Cambodia where I am now. In between I’ve travelled through Malaysia over a month, spent many weeks in Kuala Lumpur, and then a month in Bangkok. Big Asian cities. I’m sure they’re nothing compared to Bombay or Delhi in India or even many of the smaller 10 million plus population cities in China. Both of these countries remain a part of my future travel plans.

And my analysis of my short travels-I’m sick of big cities. I never have to be stuck in a traffic jam, parking is always a piece of cake, the air is so clean I feel dirty from my thoughts alone…..I must admit it does get (a little :-)) boring at times! Not so many places to go out, not that much on offer in terms of entertainment-in Siem Reap they don’t even have a cinema. But am I complaining?? I’ve been stressed approximately 3 times in the last 4 months (for some silly reasons I can’t even remember)…… in total!! That’s compared to 3 times in 3 minutes in Berlin or 3 times in 3 seconds in London! So is this it for me?? Life in the slow lane?? Naah!! I’ll get ants in my pants again sooner or later and then big cities will once again have  their opportunities to get me stressed and angry about something so mundane as the old woman who’s walking too slow in front of me…..or swearing all sorts because I’ve just missed the train and don’t have the 2 minutes to spare to wait for the next one….! This life I’ve left behind and will surely go back to (at least for brief reminders that I don’t want it anymore).

Anyway here are some more picks from my time in Dhaka. I’ve actually got thousands and thousands of pictures from everywhere I’ve been in the last 18 months. Sooner or later I’ll be posting brief glimpses of my life here in Asia.

 

Baridhara – the expat rich area of Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Categories: Bangladesh, Home & Travel, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dhaka, the city of dreams…but really, nightmares would be more appropriate!!

During my year in Bangladesh I went to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh many times. Always for a particular, very important and unavoidable reason, fun not being one of them. A mega dirty city with nightmare traffic jams that meant  at worst 4 hours to get from one part to another. All in the “lovely” sweltering heat, noise and stink of 4 wheel drives, CNG’s, trucks, countless buses and thousands and thousands of rickshaws.

Here are some pictures of Dhaka!

Dhaka-city of dreams….??

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Categories: Bangladesh, Home & Travel, Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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