R: Iftar items in Masjid
R: Baitul Mukarram Masjid, Dhaka
Mass Iftar in Basundhara Mall, Dhaka
R: Mass Iftar in TSC, Dhaka Univ
R: Beauty parlour
Home Goers struggle for berth
Common man’s ‘Iftar’ item in Bangladesh is Muri’ (puffed rice) and anything that goes cheap with it, such as, ‘Jhaal boot’(oil fried peas), ‘Piazu’ (a paste of smashed lentils with onion peelings and red chilies fried in oil), ‘Beguni’ (beson smeared slice of egg plant fried in oil), and ‘Ghoogni’ (yellow peas boiled in water with masala). Next comes ‘Jilapi’- a sweetmeat (bombay size or tiny) and dates. Traders prepare the traditional Iftar items in hundreds of makeshift shops all over the city in front of markets and mosques, and at intersections. Most restaurants, even many tiny tea stalls put a table in front to sell common Iftar delicacies.
The middle and upper class families prepare Iftari items in home adding a wide variety of items beside Piazu, Jhal boot, potato chop, beguni to Tana parata, kebabs, chicken roast, lamb shanks etc. ‘Halim’ (a pasty broth made of mutton/beaf and mung peas) has grown into a popular delicacy of Bangladesh. Dessert items are shahi tukra, pudding, sweets, assorted fruits, payesh/firnee (rice pudding) and faluda, for drinks there are variety of serbat, lassi and borhani.
Iftar items prepared in old Dhaka has a traditional style and renowned in Bangladesh. Chawkbazar is its main hub and witness a huge rush of consumers. People throng there to buy traditional special items which are rare in other areas of the capital. They start selling the items since 3:00pm. The item that makes Chawk Bazar known is ‘Boro baper polay khai’ (for the rich men’s sons). It was not heard before ‘90s. The odd mixture usually contains almost anything one can think of– muri, cheera, chhola, pieces of chicken, brains, liver, kebab, eggs, ghee, over ten kinds of spices and more. This super-rich dish contains too many flavour and can't really taste much except the overpowering spices, it costs around 400 taka per kg. Other Popular Iftar delicacy of old Dhaka are mutton leg and chicken roasts, shuti kabab (marinated minced meat), shahi doi bora (fried and spiced lentil balls dipped in yoghurt), mutton and chicken cutlet, kima roll and different sweat items and lassi. In the ‘40s Chawkbazar was not so a crowded place and Iftar Items were few and far between, such as Bakarkani, nun, beaf/mutton chap, paya, nehari, jilapi, bundia and halwa. Tea was heavily sweetened topped with thick layer of cream (malai).
Some hotels in old Dhaka situated in the Bangshal, Nawabpur and Thataribazar just never tires serving Iftar seeker. People go there in advance to book a seat for its tasty Polao, Biriani, nun, Chicken roasts, rolls, Kebabs, Leg roasts, Shahi Haleem and Firnee (rice pudding). Apart from these traditional Iftar hot spots, good food stalls have come up in front of almost all shopping malls in Baily road, Panthapath, Karwan Bazar, Dhanmondi, Gulshan and other places. People gather in the compound of malls and TSC of Dhaka University for collective Iftar for breaking fast.
Five star to 3-star hotels offer best Iftar items in the month of Ramadan. Prices of Iftar items and package prices are different from hotel to hotel including buffet dinner from 500 taka to 3000 taka.
More than 2,000 devotees are taking free Iftar at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in the city everyday in the holy month of Ramadan under a programme of Islami Foundation. Other mosques in the city also serve free Iftar to the mussullis according to their capacity.
(pic credit: local dailies)