Taste the best of Bangladesh: Must-try dishes and destinations
With its rich history and culture, most places in Bangladesh offer something of interest. Not only is there plenty to see, but also there's plenty to taste. Here is a short list (and in no way comprehensive) of places you can travel while treating your palate.
There are a number of tourist spots in Rajshahi like Choto Sona Masjid, Darasbari Masjid, Bagha Masjid, and Varendra Research Museum. Some are located in the centre while others are scattered around the city or its outskirts. Rajshahi is historically rich and local cuisine is not far behind either.
The best time to visit Rajshahi is in the summer when the mangoes are ready to harvest. Do you want Himsagar? Of the fabled Langra? How about Fazlee? Ask and you shall receive.
Another delicacy of Rajshahi is the kalai ruti, which is found in Chapainawabganj. Kalai ruti with beef is quite the dish but if you try it with smashed aubergine, you will remember it for the rest of your life. There are also mango pickles, bot parota, and one may try kachagolla from Natore which is not far from the city.
The Sixty Dome Mosque at Bagerhat can be quite the spectacle. If you prefer natural beauty, Padmabeel of Bhutia, Hiran Point, and Putney Island are waiting for you. One may go to Khulna by train, which itself can be a fun experience with the clickety-clack and the constant swaying.
All these jaunts are bound to make you hungry, and Khulna will not disappoint. The signature dish of this region is chuijhal gost. Chuijhal is a spice that comes from a vine-like plant and parts of the stem, roots, and even the skin may be used for cooking. It adds a noticeable boost to the dish, one that you will certainly remember.
Chuknagar's Abbas Hotel is well known for their chuiJhal mutton. Kamrul Hotel at Zero Point is another chuijhal destination for the travellers. Apart from chuijhal dishes, there are a number of other options that are memorable. For example, chingri bhorta or mashed shrimp, malaikari, and hilsa head with mung beans can be a treat for those who prefer savoury dishes. And the locally produced date molasses will appease the sweet tooth for sure.
Travelling to Chattogram can be tricky to plan because there are so many great places to visit. Just gazing at the sea while sitting on the beach could be the highlight of your travel if you want it to be. From Patenga Beach to Khoiyachora Waterfall or Chandranath Temple, it's a place that takes your breath away.
Whichever your destination is, just do not forget to try mezban, which is an old tradition of Chattogram. All parts of beef are used in this dish. In essence, mezban is a feast which is held on occasions such as birth anniversary, marriage, or death anniversary. So, if you want true authentic mezban, you will have to accept (or ask for) an invitation to any event in Chattogram.
However, travellers may try 'Mezzan Haile Aiyun,' a restaurant where this traditional dish is available. There's also kala bhuna which has become quite popular all over the country lately. The combination of kala bhuna with khichuri is something to look forward to, especially if it's a rainy day. There's also akhni, an iteration of tehari that is popular in this region. And of course, shutki or dried fish.
There are multiple waterfalls and vegetation you can visit. Ratargul Swamp Forest is a freshwater swamp forest and can be one of your destinations. Jaflong, Bisanakandi, Sadapathor and Shapla Bill will appease your eyes. There are also numerous tea gardens, lakes, and the city itself; all of them can be your stoppage.
Now off to the question of cuisine. Beef satkora is arguably the most popular dish in this region. Satkora is a citrus fruit that is used in the curry. Mutton can be cooked with satkora as well. The flavour of it really makes sure that you know the difference between the regular curry and this particular dish. One should also try 'duck with bamboo shoots', which is a mildly spicy curry with a refreshing taste on the tongue. And of course, if you are in Sylhet, do not forget tea. If nothing else, at least keep the seven-layer tea on your list.
Barishal can be a busy tour. There's Kuakata sea beach where you can just idly sit by watching the tides. Or take a walk through the Jhau forest. For historical interest, one may visit any of the numerous Zamindar baris. The floating guava market on Kirtipasha Canal is a spectacle.
The place is bustling and offers a lasting experience.
Nothing here is as famous as the Hilsa fish. We Bengalis sure love our share of the delectable fish and Barishal is the place to be for Hilsa. 'Shorshe Ilish' in Barishal is truly something to treat your tastebuds. The colours alone are vibrant with the mustard paste adding characters to it. One can only imagine the soothing caress of the tastebuds at the bite of 'shorshe ilish.'
Coconut shrimp is another dish of Barishal that is quite appealing. There's also a pitha you may try called Shirgoja. It is fried and sweet to taste. The cake is quite common in the greater Barishal region.
Mymensingh comes to mind because there are tourist spots like Shoshi Lodge, a number of Zamindar baris, Botanical Garden, and Moyna Island. Mymensingh is famous for Muktagachar monda, a traditional sweet that is not perhaps much to look at but it sure makes up for it with its originality and taste.
Old Dhaka should always make any list that speaks about food. Old Dhaka itself is a place to be roamed. It's not only historical, it also offers you an experience that only old Dhaka can offer. As for food, bakharkhani and kachchi biriyani are two of the most famous items in the country. There are also different kinds of kebabs and iconic beverages like Beauty Lassi.
Old Dhaka's restaurants are quite busy at midnight, as is Mawa Ghat, which can be another destination to try out shrimp, freshly fried hilsa, and fried aubergine; all of which taste great with warm rice.
As mentioned at the beginning, this list is not comprehensive because Bangladesh is culturally rich. Of course, there are many other places you can visit in the country and a hundred other dishes you can try, but taste is subjective and may change from person to person. What are your picks for memorable dishes in Bangladesh?