The Emperor Who Lost His Empire – the Phouska Maker

The tale is one told many times over. Once upon a time, his family owned the whole neighborhood. Then, due to a Shakespearean turn of luck or plain greed, his family lost everything but the tiny phouska business.

The phouska seller in his shop.

The shop is located in a typical Dhaka locale. Off a main road, down another smaller street (alley is how some would describe it), and then left onto yet an even smaller street.

Phouska with sauce.

He tried to refuse our money.

Phouska are the traditional golf ball sized fried shells filled with chick pea (garbanzo) and spices appetizer/snack served at weddings and street corners. The way to eat them is to make an indent into the chick pea filling, pour the tamarind and chili sauce into the hole you’ve made, and use your hand to pop the phouska into your mouth.

The phouska seller was so pleased that my colleague had come back to his shop (he had had him cater to his wedding), that he didn’t want him to pay for our food. But, fortunately, my colleague paid for it (20 Taka/25 cents per plate).

Drinks were bought at another store while we waited. We ate quickly and ate a second round quickly as the mosquitoes were swarming around our ankles making us all do the tappy dance with our feet while we ate.

The phouska kitchen.

We will be back (with bug sprayed feet).

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