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Bangladesh Food and Drink

The cuisine of Bangladesh straddles the boundary between India and Myanmar, and things get more Burmese and less Indian the further south and east you go.

For the Muslim majority in Dhaka and northern and western Bangladesh, curry is the national dish, flavoured with the same rich spices found in neighbouring India. Fish features prominently on local menus, alongside biryani, the ubiquitous fried-rice served all over Bangladesh.

Bengali meals are centred on rice and dal (lentils) – indeed, many Bangladeshis live on these two staples, supplemented by vegetables and the odd bit of fish and meat. Crabs and prawns are popular on the coast, while hilsa, bhekti, butterfish and catfish are served all over the country. In the tribal east, look out for dishes based on bamboo shoots, dried fish, coconut and sour sauces.

Specialities

Achar: Pickled vegetables and fruit with mustard and spices
Dal: The local name for lentils; dozens of types are served in dozens of different ways.
Biryani: Bengali-style fried rice, with curry spices and chicken; a staple for Bangladeshi Muslims.
Pulao: Fried rice with vegetables and spices, often served on special occasions.
Shami kebab: A grilled, highly spiced kebab made with minced meat.
Chotpoti: A stew of chickpeas, potatoes, eggs and spices.
Mishti doi: Sweetened yoghurt served as a desert; also called mitha dahi.
Ilish: Hilsa fish, frequently served in mustard seed flavoured curries.
Bhaji: Vegetables deep fried in lentil flour batter.
Cha: Milky sweet tea, made using local grown leaves.

Things to know

Western food can be found in some hotels and large restaurants in major cities, but elsewhere, Bengali and Chinese food are the only options. The availability of alcohol is extremely limited outside bars in top end hotels.

Tipping

Locals tend not to tip, but foreigners are often expected to; 10% is appropriate for hotel and restaurant staff.

Drinking age

Muslims in Bangladesh are prohibited from drinking alcohol, and it is only available to non-Muslims in limited locations. There is no official drinking age.