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Bangladeshi Cuisine?

I've recently discovered there's a Bangladeshi community around the northeastern end of Koreatown. I tried one place - a combination market and eatery and wasn't impressed, but I'm open-minded enough to believe that was just due to that particular establishment and not the cuisine itself (which is mostly similar to Indian food, save for the inclusion of Halal meat). Has anyone found a good Bangladeshi/Bengali restaurant they can recommend?

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  1. Normal:

    You're clearly seeking nuances that I'm not familiar with. How is Bangladeshi cusisine different from, say Pakistani cuisine, which I understand is pretty well represented by, e.g., halal tandoori places that also serve haleem, like Al Watan?

    2 Replies
    1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

      I only had a couple dishes. But Bangladesh is on the opposite side of India from Pakistan, which means there's more of a Southeast Asian influence. I haven't tasted it in the few dishes I've tried though, but the spices are more consistent with south Indian food and there's more seafood represented. It's definitely not the same as Tandoori though.

      1. re: Normal Garciaparra

        OK, Normal, go ahead and MAKE me sound like a Miss South Carolina Teen USA competitor!

        ; )

        Just working from memory, wasn't Bagladesh at one time called "East Pakistan", although it was separated from "West Pakistan" (now known simply as Pakistan) by, as you say, several hundred miles of India?

        (And by the way, do you know what movie Lord Mountbatten, last viceroy of India, saw the night before partition? "My Favorite Brunette", with Bob Hope!)

        (Checks maps)

        You're right, though; Bangladesh seems to adjoin India and a tiny piece of Burma, so it's likely to be more East Asian. Just save me from fermented bamboo shoots!

        so what did you eat? What woulda made it better?

        r gould-saltman

        no avatar

    2. Isn't Makkah Halal owned by Bangladeshis? Also in Koreatown, it's a step up from the steam tables at the markets.

      -----
      Makkah Halal Tandoori
      401 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chowpatty

        I've eaten there and liked it. But it's definitely not Bangladeshi. I believe they're northern Indian Muslim.

        1. re: Normal Garciaparra

          Makkah Halal is run by Bangladeshis. However, they do not serve Bangladeshi/Bengali food. Their food is mostly an approximation of pan-North Indian and Pakistani food. They're not bad at what they do, but I do wish they would serve Bengali food because they seem to have some competent cooks in their kitchen.

      2. May not be Bengladeshi but Tibet Nepal house is Pasadena would probably serve something close to it going by the geographic regioning. The food is definately different from traditional north or south indian faire

        9 Replies
        1. re: Mando

          Absolutely NOT! Tibet Nepal House is to Bangladeshi food as McDonalds is to real Kobe beef burgers.

          Bangladesh (formerly east Pakistan) is adjacent to the Indian state of West Bengal and shares many of the culinary traditions and dishes, with the exception of eating beef as it is dominated by a Muslim population, whereas West Bengal cuisine has no beef for the Hindu majority. West Bengal muslims (almost 40%) do eat beef.

          A decent book on Bengali cuisine is by Bharati Kirchner (nee Mukherjee) at Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Cuisine...

          The cuisine of West Bengal is mainly based on rice and fish. For being coastal provinces, surprisingly the fish eaten is sweet water fish from rivers, ponds, lakes, and even rice fields. Very little sea fish is consumed with the notable exception of shad, which, like salmon, comes back to the rivers to spawn after spending their lives at sea. Bangladesh is the most riverine country resulting in a glut of fish. Most of the prawns in the Ranch 99 markets are from Bangladesh (other sources being Vietnam, and Latin America).

          A typical lunch (dinners are usually lighter versions of lunch) in West Bengal will start with a green leafy dish called "shaak" (about 20 different greens are commonly available and consumed) often augmented with a vinegary mustard concoction called "kashundi", followed by a dry vegetable preparation, or wet (one with a bit more gravy), followed by a fish dish (mainly smaller sized fish - some as small as silver fish, but most usually from the size of smelts up to grass carp and its variants - which are the most popular fish, as also butter fish and catfish variants like Lompok Pabda and the Indian cousin of tilapia called "koi"), ending with a dal (lentil) curry accompanied by a fried fish or vegetable. The meal will be wrapped up with a chutney of some sort (raw mango, tomato, pineapple, raw papaya, star fruit, even raw olives).

          In Bangladesh, the same basic pattern is followed, except that there are also meat dishes - some which are common with Pakistani dishes like nihari and halim. But the fish and vegetable preparations are much more oily and spicy hot compared to West Bengal.

          I don't particularly care for Bangladeshi oil dripping cuisine, but we buy goat meat from the Bangladeshi store in Little India in Artesia. They have some prepared dishes and I see people ordering and eating lunch and dinner there. I can't attest to the quality of their preparations.

          Unfortunately, West Bengal does not have much of a tradition of eating out - this is beginning now with more women in the workforce. As a result, even in the capital city of Kolkata (Calcutta) there were few restaurants offering Bengali food. Outside Bengal, and particularly outside India, there are few cooks from West Bengal running restaurants.

          The situation is quite opposite for Bangladeshi food - particularly UK - where places like Brick Lane in London are chock full of Bangladeshi restaurants. Now there is a significant Bangladeshi population in New York and many small Bangladeshi restaurants. One good one which is not a hole in the wall is Devi. Nothing comparable to that in LA.

          -----
          Little Dhaka
          18159 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

          1. re: suvro

            A. Devi is not a Bangladeshi restaurant. When it was in business (it has since shut down), it used to serve pan-Indian food with some Western accents. The Bangladeshi restaurant in New York is Mina's. It has many admirers on Chowhound.

            B. A better book on Bengali cuisine than Bharati Kirchner's (her recipes are atrocious) are Chitrita Banerjee's books on Bengali food. There isn't a better introduction to Bengali cuisine in English.

            C. All Bangladeshi restaurants in LA are hit or miss, but on it's good days Aladin can churn out a pretty decent meal. That's where I end up on days when I don't feel like cooking Bengali food at home and still crave my comfort food. Like all Bangladeshi restaurants, they tend to go overboard with excess oil in the dishes, a complete contrast to Bengali home cooking which is very light and healthy.

            But if you can get past the oil, the "tel koi" (oily koi), the "ilish sorshey"(shad in mustard sauce), uchhey/korola (stir fried bitter gourd), the stir fried mixed vegetables are all fine.

            1. re: anthead

              (raises hand feebly) Uh, hah, I had my little meal at Aladin. Guess it wasn't a good day...Yep it was oily, and it wasn't even a meat dish.

              1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                Aw, too bad Aladin didn't work out for you and sorry your introduction to Bengali food was less than stellar. If you ever work up the courage to go there again, specifically avoid the parathas that are the biggest culprit of the "dripping in oil" variety.

                The oiliness of Bangladeshi restaurant food totally baffles me. I'm from West Bengal in India, and both home-cooked food and what's served in restaurants has very little oil and is one of the lightest, most subtle cuisines in India.

                I've had Bangladeshi home cooking which is more similar to West Bengali home cooking rather than Bangladeshi restaurant food. Something about going overboard with oil and spices in a restaurant setting I guess.

                By the way, how are you with bony and fresh water fish? As Suvro told you in his excellent explanation of Bengali cuisine, the fresh water fish dominates the cuisine and we seem to have an especial fondness for fish with tiny bones.

                1. re: anthead

                  I had the "squash and shrimp" at Aladin (they didn't seem to be interested in teaching me anything about their culture, by introducing me any new names of dishes, eh?) I'm not used to tiny shrimp with tails intact, so that might be part of it. Any meat or fish dishes you wanna recommend, and their names? And also the best time to go there, so I don't eat hours-old food?

                  1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                    The squash and shrimp dish is "Lau Chingri" in Bengali. Lau == Opo squash in Chinese supermarkets (zucchini is acceptable substitute), and Chingri = Shrimp.

                    Per anthead, ask for the "tel Koi" next time you are there. Tel = Oil (referring to mustard oil in this case), Koi = Climbing Perch (also known as Gangetic Koi - see http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/Speci...

                    )

                    Tilapia is a good substitute when I cook at home.

                    I usually don't like Bangladeshi cooking, so I can't offer any other suggestions of what to get at Aladin. If I had to buy something there, I would get their sweet dishes.

              2. re: anthead

                Oops. Meant to say Mina, but came out Devi. Actually near the UN, there are several small hole in the wall restaurants that are of Bangladeshi origin. They serve north Indian food, and also some Bengali dishes. As for LA, for my personal taste, none are attractive. I have tried Aladin, and Little Dhaka. Both were as bad as Shaan's Pakistani cuisine - floating in oil and very little taste.

                Bharati Kirchner's book is indeed muddled - odd English names for traditional Bengali dishes. It was the first one out, so I referred to it. I have not seen Chitrita Banerjee's books - will look it up. I have a large stack of recipes from home - so don't need any more Bengali books.

                There is at least one Bangladeshi lady who home caters food in this area. Many Bengalis will order from her when they are hosting large parties. A close friend's wife from West Bengal also cooks for catered parties, but her dishes are more from West Bengal than from Bangladesh.

                1. re: suvro

                  Well, Aladin really is your best bet, because Jafran and Pardeshi are even sadder. Try Aladin's "tel koi" when it's freshly made and hasn't been sitting under a heat lamp for a while. They do a pretty good job with it. It does float in oil, but in this case, the floating in oil is justified because that's the nature of the dish.

                  However, as I said, if I want Bengali food, most of the times I make it at home.

                  I'm curious that you refer to Shaan's Pakistani cuisine. I know Shaan bills itself as an Indian and Pakistani restaurant, but the owners are from Hyderabad, India. It's very Hyderabadi food with baghara baingan and mirch ka salan and a very Hyderabadi haleem. Unfortunately, their execution of these dishes leave a lot to be desired.

                  1. re: anthead

                    OK. I will give Aladin's "tel koi" (basically tilapia in an onion sauce with lots of oil) a try. I make it at home, so it is not something I miss. I bought the mustard oil, which is integral to this dish, from Aladin twice with poor results. The whiff of the raw mustard oil is quite strong (the pungency comes from a compound called allyl iso-thiocyanate), but every time I heated the oil, it lost its pungency, and actually the odor was quite foul after a bit. I had to throw away the oil. Now I usually get a large supply from Calcutta to last me till my next visit.

                    I will make the trek to Aladin and try out their "tel koi". What else do you like from their buffet tray?

                    I am not sure that Shaan folks are from Hyderabad, India rather than Hyderabad, Pakistan. Are you sure? Their cooking is floating in oil, and once for lunch was enough to turn me off them.

          2. The funny thing is, the cabbie I had the other night was Bengladeshi and had a recommendation for me. Of course, I was three sheets to the wind by that point, so it just means that some exploring is in order.