When Ahshanul Shourav came to Australia from Bangladesh in 2009 to study economics, he tried replicating Dhaka's street food at home, experimenting with what he could find here and calling his mum for technical advice.
Without any experience in commercial cooking or hospitality he opened Bottola, a tiny Lakemba restaurant with business partner Arifa Ferdous.
The most notable feature of Bangladeshi cuisine isn't a single dish, it's a balance of flavours from chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and salt.
The most typical snack is bhorta; side dishes that can be treated as a meal. Boiled potatoes smashed with mustard oil, chilli and onion is the most basic. You’ll also find begun, a spicy, soft eggplant dish not unlike babaganoush; shutki, a dried fish relish; beans; and prawns.
The bhorta combo is more common for a solo eater. Groups tend to churn through Bangladeshis classics such as kaachi biryani (a mixed-rice dish with curried goat and an aromatic regional rice variety called kal-jeera); fuska (bowl-shaped chickpea fritters stuffed with potato, peas and egg and served with a sweet-and-sour tamarind water); and Bangladeshi fish done different ways.
Other dishes are popular simply because they’re hard to find outside of Bangladesh. The offal dishes (fried beef tripe, brain masala and more); the chap paratha (a heavily spiced steak served with salad and paratha, a freshly baked, buttery flat bread); and beef kala bhuna (a dark, slow-cooked and pepper-heavy curry) are good examples.
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