Puran Dhaka is one of the oldest parts of Dhaka and is super busy- all the time. And as they say, it has a couple of culinary gems of the city. And despite the heavy traffic and dingy lanes, people flock there to enjoy food from the business capital of Puran dhaka- or old Dhaka. In this blogpost, I’ve tried to talk about few of the eateries, but this post will be updated, definitely, in future.
Dhaka was founded, formally, in around 17th century by the Mughals and was considered as one of the financial capitals. But historians say, it has a history of more than a thousand years. It is said that Raja Ballan Sen from Sen Dynasty, in the 12th century, founded Dhakkeswari temple and Dhaka got its name from there. In another theory, Dhaka was an elevated land and the rulers constructed an watch-area here, which was called as Dhakka. Few even say, that Islam Khan, subedar of emperor Akbar, was delighted by the sound of Dhak and thus the name was given. But honestly, I am not qualified anough to be a historian and can’t really confirm on that. But whatever is the name, Dhaka has a rich culinary history and here are he few gems from old, or Puran dhaka
Zamindar Sudheer Das had a mansion in Banglabazar, wwhich became the office of the Bengali newspaper “Sonar Bangla” before partition in 1947. In 1951, the newspaper office shifted to Kolkata and the house was leased out to Nalini Mohan Saha and was converted into a hotel. It was named after his daughter- Beauty. Soon, it became the hub of literary geniuses like Shahid Quadri, Niralendu Goon and Syed Shamsul Haq. All was going well, but on 28th March 1971, Pakistan army attacked Beauty Boarding at Puran Dhak and killed 17 people there, along with the then owner, Prohllad Saha. Tarak Saha used to run the property, but he also passed away recently and his family is taking care of the same.
Surprisingly, they serve the food influenced by the West Bengal. The arrangement is basic- both in terms of lodging and food. The area is flocked by students and lovers- in searched of privacy. Of course, the local traders come here for their daily lunch. Honestly, more than the food taste, Beauty Boarding should be remembered for the legacy and a taste of Epar Bangla (west Bengal) in Puran dhaka.
Please check our experience there, in details, in the video below
Cafe Corner, Puran dhaka
Cafe Corner is just across the road from Beauty Boarding and is at a distance of probably 100 mtrs. Cafe Corner was started by Radharaman Ghosh and Haripada Ghosh in 1962. And after a few years, they shifted to Kolkata. And before shifting, handed over the cafe to Solaiman Mallick, according to erstwhile manager Aboney Sengupta. The cafe is still operational with a rocking clientle. It’s a small place with around 20-25 persons sitting capacity, with no AC.
I was asked to order the mutton crumb chop and prawn cutlet, along with their signature milk tea. Brilliant is an understatement for the mutton crumb chop. In fact, it is crumb coated baby mutton ribs, deep fried. The spice level is just perfect and is a must have item. The prawn cutlet is battered prawns, crumb fried. wherein it’s pretty good, but couldn’t hold its forte in front of the mutton dish. Tea is served in white cup and saucer, adding to the nostalgic value.
Beauty Lassi, or Beauty Lacchi in Puran Dhaka
Now many lassi, or sherbet shops can hold their forte for a century and Beauty Lassi is one of them. Now, I am not sure, whether is spelled as Beauty lassi, or Beauty lacchi- but whatever is the name, they know their product. Late Abdul Aziz used to sell sherbet and lassi on the streets of Ray Shaheb Bazar, Puran Dhaka. And in 1922, he founded this legendary institution Beauty Lassi. It sells only a handful of items- lassi, lebu sherbet and Falooda (added in 2000). Beauty Lassi currently has 3 outlets- Johnson Road, Narinda and the one in Kazi Alauddin Road. The same brand is also key stakeholder of Manik Sweetmeat, founded in 1998 by the Late Abdul Gaffar.
Let me confess. If I have to choose my top 3 choicest food items from Dhaka, the lebu sherbet from this place will probably top the list. It’s made with Gondhoraj lemon, rather than a generic lemon and the poor lemon slice is mercilessly rubbed at the rim of the glass. And I don’t know how or why, this beautiful product is prepared. You can’t stop at one glass and that’s a promise. The lassi is made from sweet curd, unlike the sour curd in here, and that is the differentiator. And though name of the place is from lassi, the lebu sherbet wins in taste, by miles.
One the other hand, Falooda is a pretty heavy stuff with condensed milk and one/ two scoops of ice cream. Chopped dry fruits and raisins are sprinkled over it, making it even more tasty. Do taste it, it’s pretty good and pretty heavy. The pricing at 100/- is quite justified and definitely recommended.
So, Puran Dhaka has many many culinary gems tucked inside its dingy lanes and these are just a few of them. Do suggest, what are the other places that you’d like us to visit and cover. this blogpost, in all probabilities, will be updated in future or a few more will come from this place.
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