The ethnic communities residing in Bangladesh add a tinge of exoticness to our culture. Be that clothing, music or food, our ethnic communities have contributed a lot in building up the variant colourful cultures of Bangladesh. Let's take a dive into the festive food delicacies of our indigenous communities. Ethnic kitchens are a heaven for those who count the calories and prefer to keep it light. 'Adivasi' foods are made with little or no oil and most of the dishes are steamed or boiled therefore making it a healthier option for us to keep the cardiovascular diseases away.
Marma Bamboo Soup:
Our Marma communities live amidst the serene hills, away from all the city chaos in Bandarban. The bamboo soup is a delight for the chilled hilly climate of Bandarban. Shwe Shwe U Marma, a final year student of Physiotherapy at Dhaka University has shared with us the ingredients of making bamboo soup, "Any recipe involving bamboo shoots are always prepared for our family gatherings. My mother especially adds bamboo soup with every dinner course."
To make a bamboo soup, you will require --- bamboo shoots, fish stock, soya sauce, fish sauce, tasting-salt, tamarind or lemon juice, green-chilies and salt. The recipe is quite simple. The bamboo shoots are boiled in a large pan in water with all the ingredients till they become tender and it is garnished with lemon juice and lemon leaves. The lemon leaves add the perfect zingy aroma for this traditional Marma dish. This dish has almost zero calorie and it is the healthiest meal for you to try this winter!
Lemony Chicken Soup:
We have the Marma Lemony Chicken Soup. Ceno Marma, a Law student of Notre Dame University Bangladesh has shared her Father's secret ingredients to make this perfect bowl of chicken soup in Marma style. It is said that chicken soup has the healing power to cure any disease. Chicken is boiled in a large pan with water. Once the water is boiled, the chicken pieces are drained out from the pan leaving the pan with fresh chicken stock. Soya sauce, 2 cups of lemon juice, mashed green chilies, a slight amount of mashed ginger and that's it. The chicken pieces are added back to soup after the water is boiled with all the ingredients for about an hour. The soup is garnished with lemon zest and lemon leaves. The Lemony Chicken Soup with a Marma Twist is sure to melt every cold heart this winter.
Pajon: Vegetable Curry with a Chakma Twist
Next we have the most famous Chakma dish, none other than Pajon (local name). Pajon is almost similar to the Indian vegetable korma or the popular Bengali dish called labra. However, Pajon is not a vegan dish, and that's the twist. Pajon is the main Chakma Biju Dish. "Biju" is the Chakma New Year. The vegetables used to make Pajon are cultivated in the Jumma Lands making the dish a patented Chakma cuisine. Unripen jackfruits, sweet-gourds and twenty two other vegetables are added to make Pajon the yummiest and healthiest dish out there. There is only one rule to make Pajon: "The more the merrier!" They say, a higher variety of vegetables is the secret to make the best Pajon. Dry fish and shrimps are added to the dish. Pajon is a veg lover's delight and with the ample number of vegetables on sale in the bazaar for winter, Pajon is a must.
Huro Hebang or Bamboo Chicken:
In Chakma, "Huro" means chicken and "Hebang" means curry. Bamboo Chicken is the most famous and celebrated Chakma dishes of all. The mouthwatering and unforgettable taste of Bamboo Chicken has done justice to the widespread popularity of Bamboo Chicken both nationally and internationally. Autish Chakma, a student of Grade 12 at St Francis Xavier's Greenherald International School said, "Bamboo Chicken is love! I would choose Huro Hebang over any dish in the whole wide world."
Not just Chakmas, but people from all over the country have found their true love in Bamboo Chicken. As the name suggests, Bamboo Chicken is cooked over low heat in a Bamboo till the chicken pieces blend with aroma from bamboo and spices. The inclusion of Bamboo Chicken on the menus of several well-known and posh restaurants across Dhaka is another reason for the widespread popularity of Bamboo Chicken among Dhaka dwellers.
The Rakhine Rice Noodle Soup or Mun'ti:
Mun'ti is Rakhine delicacy. It is a celebrated Rakhine cuisine and hails all the way from Arakan. Mun'ti has been a popular dish among the Rakhine community since hundreds of years. This traditional dish is made with fresh fish stock and hand-made rice noodles. Tangerine is added to the soup and hence it will leave you with a tangy taste.
The Rakhine special fish paste, locally called "ngyappi" is added to the soup and leaves it with a strong flavor. Mun'ti is topped with fried onions and peanuts and garnished with fresh coriander leaves and red chili flakes. If hot spices are your cup of tea, then you are sure to fall in love with Mun'ti. The dish is served simmering hot. Mali San, a recent graduate in Economics from Eden Mohila College has been making the dish for her friends in her hostel and they seem to love it more than her. Chicken and shrimps are occasionally added to Mun'Ti for a burst of flavours!