When you ask a youngster in Dhaka what his favourite local cuisine is, you might be surprised at his answer. Instead of talking about complicated, elaborate dishes that are elusive and expensive, he will straight out tell you that it's 'chotpoti' or 'phuchka'. Although rich foods like biriyani and chicken roast will always take up spots in our fancy dinner menus, street food holds a special place in every Dhakaiite's heart.
The most popular street goody is phuchka, a hollow, round, fried dough that is filled with chickpeas, potatoes and garnished with tamarind chutney, sliced onions, green chillies and coriander making it spicy, tangy and sweet all at the same time. The best phuchkas are sold at Bailey Road in the many street side stalls that line the road and a plate will set you back half a dollar. If you are a little squeamish and concerned with the preparation methods; the high end option to having a phuchka is Dhaba located in Dhanmondi 12/A and in Banani at House 48/E, Road 13/C, Block E. You can also choose to explore the phuchka options in your area, as there should be at least one phuchka stand in your vicinity, if not more.
Almost every phuchka seller can guarantee you an out-of-this-world experience. In every phuchka stand you will also find just the filling also for sale, chotpoti. This is chickpeas cooked to perfection and then spices are added to make it tangy, also added are boiled eggs, potatoes and chillies.
Another street food fare dominating the streets of Dhaka is jhalmuri -- puffed rice, boiled chickpeas, mustard oil, tomatoes and a secret spice blend that makes no two vendors' jhalmuri alike. One can find them outside all schools in the city.
Alongside the jhalmuriwalas are the fruit vendors who sell seasonal fruits such as guava's, pomelos and pineapples diced and tossed in chilli flakes and mustard sauce. Bhelpuri is just another street delight that is available close to the jhalmuri and the fruit vendors. This is fried, dense dough filled with potatoes, cucumbers and chilli flakes.
Evenings bring out the munchies at Bailey Road, where among the most popular shops is Mama Peyaju that sells peyaju (onion and chickpea fritters), beguni (deep fried eggplants in batter) and aloor chop (potato cakes), among the tastier items. Other street food items that are quite popular are chaaps -- chunks of beef or chicken pounded and covered in a blend of spices and then fried to perfection -- these are available in Mustakimer Chaap at Mohammadpur near Geneva camp.
Dhaka University Campus will also delight the senses of a foodie; here you will find locally produced mushrooms battered and deep-fried, along with mashed potatoes and cuts of aubergine also deep-fried to be eaten with hot cups of milky, sugary tea.
Moreover winters have warm delights on offer such as bhapa pitha (steamed rice discs with coconut flakes and jaggery) -- a personal favourite available all over Dhaka city but for a relaxed environment you can go to Pitha Ghar on Bailey Road.