Bangladesh may not be known as the cleanest country in the world, and as such caution should be exercised when eating and drinking – yet with such delectable snacks as you’ll see here in Bangladesh, it is often quite difficult to turn it all down!
I love street food and whenever I can I like to try out some of the local specialities. However, on the Sub-Continent, there is always a risk with eating food on the streets. For a casual tourist, you are probably aware of this risk for India, although not many will visit Bangladesh for tourism (which is a shame), and it is this reason why Bangladeshi food is rarely talked about in the West. Even so, when you walk through the streets of Dhaka and the pollution and poverty and dust and stray animals, you may want to think twice about eating that cold chicken sandwich that you are offered by a street food merchant…
Risks aside, what kind of bites can you expect to find in Bangladesh? Well, further south, I think seafood becomes more prominent (kind of like how crabs are a speciality in Kep and Sihanoukville in Cambodia, but not in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap) but in the urban metropolises food is obviously more varied. There were a lot of bhaji on sale in Dhaka, which are of course famous from next door in India, and the popular snack malpua (banana and coconut in deep-fried batter), which I am told is a Bangladeshi favourite, was everywhere to be seen – and it tasted delicious!
I also tasted many samosa and roti when backpacking in Dhaka, and these types of snacks can be found plentifully on the streets. The street food vendors here usually have a big smile and will be genuinely pleased that you are thinking about buying their food. Most of these snacks are pocket-sized and can easily be eaten on the move as you walk through the crowded city, but some things require you to sit down and eat – or wait until you get home to eat it. Mutton curry was a popular street food snack in Bangladesh, and some vendors even sold it in little bags so you could take it away with you and keep it warm!
I don’t think many people are too knowledgeable about Bangladeshi food (at least not compared to Indian food) but you can find some delightful delicacies here. At various time of the year, during Bangladeshi festivals and other Islamic events, food is eaten aplenty, and it is during these times that you will see the most variation on the streets. As a food-loving tourist, I sure enjoyed checking out some of the local food in Dhaka, especially since it is so hard to find good Bangladeshi food in other parts of the world.