On a recent visit to southern Bangladesh, my destination was the district of islands - Bhola. The nature of the region has changed a lot over time, many rivers have dried – but, thankfully, some things have not changed, such as the tradition of Bhola's Buffalo curd.
While I was in Bhola, Tofail Ahmed, the Commerce Minister was also visiting his village Dakhhin Dighaldi, his birthplace. As he came to know about our filming, he kindly invited the filming crew for lunch at his home. We then headed for Dakhhin Dighaldi at Sadar Upazila. After we finished our lunch, my eyes got stuck on a dessert- it is the most prestigious and ancient brand of Bhola. Buffalo curd, made from raw buffalo milk. I wanted to learn more about it more from the minister. “It's really popular. We mix molasses with the buffalo curd, making the dessert even tastier. I have been eating this since my childhood and the heritage dates back to an ancient time, I guess”, said the minister.
The buffalo curd really charged the whole team up and I wanted to know more about it. I planned to go to the Bhola city. At the city entrance, at Chairman Lane, I found a buffalo curd store called, 'Adarsho Dadhi Bhandar' (Ideal Curd Store). It was a real pleasure talking with the store-owner Abdul Hai.
“Is this raw buffalo milk?”
“Yes from our own buffalos, we rear at the bathan (cow pastures).”
“How much milk do you get every day?”
“How much buffalo curd can you make?”
“About 30 KGs.”
They use a traditional clay pot for buffalo curd making, and the process is eighteen hours long. Moreover, for the congealing process, they don't use the old curd which is a common method for making curds in case of other types of milk. The raw buffalo milk is enough in itself for congealing. Buffalo curd is really popular in Bhola. Everybody loves it. People serve it to guests at weddings and at other festivals and occasions.
I spoke to another store owner of buffalo curd, Abdul Jabbar.
“For how long have you been a part of this trade?”
“It's my family business. After my father passed away, I continued this business.”
“How long was he involved with this business?”
“For fifty years.”
They sell two types of buffalo curds. They sell it in pots and people can come here and eat it – its really affordable. There are unique ways of presenting the curd - they mix it with sugar, molasses and sometimes with puffed rice. Two spoons of buffalo curd costs Tk. 20. I also had the privilege to talk with the locals who regularly buy buffalo curd.
“How old are you?”
“Did you have this on the menu for the people you invited at your wedding?”
Later, I went to the biggest buffalo curd hub- Ghoshpatti. Ghoshpatti is famous from the British period because of its tradition of making buffalo curd, enriched with the commercial investment from the Ghosh community. The milk collected from the bathan comes directly to Ghoshpatti. They prepare the curd here. The area has about fifty raw buffalo milk curd, cow-milk curd, and sweet stores. This farm-based industry has enabled people to taste the finest sweet food in and around the district of Bhola. I shared a few words with Keshab Chandra Ghosh, who runs his own store. “My father and grandfather and their forefathers were involved with this. And, I haven't seen anyone else making this special curd anywhere in Bangladesh”, said Keshab.
Many of you perhaps don't know that buffalo milk is not used for making sweets. To make sweets you need cow milk. You don't need old curd to congeal the buffalo curd. You don't have to boil it. The direct raw milk turns into curd. “Buffalo curd has lot of fat that's why it's easier to congeal”, says Keshab.
Heritage, tradition and culture are the features of our farming sector that binds Bangladesh together. Buffalo curd is carrying these features for many years. Time and again, I have tried to spread the idea of branding a district of Bangladesh and introducing it across the country and in front of the world. I hope Buffalo curd someday truly becomes the brand sensation for Bhola, carrying the name of the district beyond the borders of Bangladesh.