Bangladesh

Bangladesh is located at the apex of the Bay of Bengal and shares borders with India and Myanmar. It is the world’s eighth-most populous country. Three of Asia’s largest rivers, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna flow through Bangladesh forming the fertile Bengal delta, the largest delta in the world.  At 2,172,000 square kilometers, the Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world. Poverty is widespread with many Bangladeshis living on less than $1 a day, however, promisingly the poverty rate has reduced from 57% in 1990 to 25.6% in 2014.

The country is the world’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping. In 2006, Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize in Peace “for efforts to create economic and social development from below”.

Bangladesh is home to much of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other highlights include the Buddhist remains at Paharpur and the 15th-century mosques and mausoleums of Bagerhat, both of which are also Unesco World Heritage Sites. Cox’s Bazar is home to the world’s longest natural sea beaches, which are 75 miles long including mud flats. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populated cities, with a population of nearly 17 million people. It is known as the rickshaw capital of the world, with daily traffic of over 600,000 cycle rickshaws.

The Royal Bengal Tiger is Bangladesh’s national animal. This majestic creature has a roar that can be heard up to 3 kilometers away. Sadly, it is now an endangered species. Bangladesh has an abundance of wildlife including clouded leopards, saltwater crocodiles, black panthers and fishing cats. It also has one of the largest population of Irrawaddy dolphins and Ganges dolphins.

Rice is the main staple of Bangladesh cuisine and is served with a wide range of curries. There are regional differences in the cuisine, the Western region is known for authentic Bengali recipes while the Central region including Dhaka, favours fresh water fish. Dishes include Murgir Jhol (chicken curry), Chirer Polao (flattened rice with vegetables), Rui maacher kaalia (fish curry), Doi Maach (fish in yoghurt sauce), Sandesh Mishti (milk based sweet), Bandhakopir Torkari (Bengali Cabbage, Potato and Pea Curry) and Cholar daal (lentils). I opted to cook Dhaka Chicken Karahi (chicken curry) which was particularly spicy and tasty. I added lime juice and creme fraiche to tone it down a little.

Rating: 8/10 (although Bern said it was 9/10 with the additions I made to the dish!)

Serves 2
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins

2 tbsp oil
1 & 1/2 ginger & garlic paste
2 large chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 medium piece ginger, sliced
1/2 tbsp crushed cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tbsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies
Fresh coriander
1/2 tsp all spice powder

Heat the oil in a pan to a medium heat and fry the ginger and garlic paste for a few seconds.
Add the chicken and stir well to coat.
When the chicken changes colour (after a few minutes), add sliced ginger, cumin, coriander, red chilli flakes and salt and mix.
Add the water, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add sliced green chillies, onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander, stir well and cook for 15 minutes. Add more water if it starts to dry out.
Add the all spice powder, stir well and cook for a minute.
Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with cooked basmati rice.

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