Day 45: Eating Fish on the World's Largest River Delta

Bangladesh is the eighth largest population in the world, including the third largest Muslim population in the world.  In spite of its immense populations and the fact that it is one of the worlds most crowded places on earth, nearly half of all Bangladeshis are rural farmers.  Farming is common to the annual floor waters which bring fertile soil into the worlds largest river delta.  This country was a former British colony and was later annexed as East Pakistan, and has been operating as an independent country since 1971.

This trio of savory fish dishes speak to Bangladesh's connection to rivers and oceans on the worlds largest delta.

"Fish and Rice Make a Bengali" (Machh-e-bhat-e-Bangali)

Rice and fish are staple foods, and this should be no surprise since Bangladesh is a country of rivers.  Fish are often fried or stewed and pre-made, seasoned pastes are used to season the fish.  These pastes use a combinations of spices, peppers, and roots.  Common ingredients are green and red chills, spices such as turmeric, cinnamon coriander, cumin and mustard seed, and roots and herbs such as ginger, garlic, and onions.  Another common ingredient is mustard oil which adds a decidedly bitter note to food.  All of these ingredients might strike you as strong, however, together they present unique and bold flavors.  We tried a couple of fish dishes at All Bengal Sweets and Snacks and they were reminiscent of a dish from my own cajun background, red fish court bullion.  The dark, savory flavors of this stewed fish recipe brought me back to my mother's kitchen.