Thread and Bare – Spa Life in Dhaka

Getting threaded by the skin of her teeth.
Getting threaded by the skin of her teeth.

Another of the good things about life in Dhaka is getting pampered. While the spas and salons may not be as high end here as one would expect elsewhere, it is relatively inexpensive. I have had haircuts for 600 Taka ($8) which is not as cheap as it is for the locals but still inexpensive to me. The prices make it easy to go to the salon (usually ladies only) and get plucked, massaged, waxed, threaded…

Threaded bare.
Threaded bare.

The Bread Lover’s Guide to Dhaka

From King's.
From King’s.

As someone who loves good bread, I find it hard to find European-style yeasty bread in Dhaka. There is plenty of pillowy naan, stretchy rhumali, chewy paratha, and flaky dhosa. When I want European style bread, I go to the following places:

Kings Confectionary: This is where to get long baguette-like hoagie or subway rolls. Plus, the sugared doughnuts are chewy, doughy, and sugary.

German Butcher: They bake their own bread. They call it black bread but it’s more of a whole wheat blend. You can even buy a half loaf if you want to start out with that.

Do Mi Ok: The best sliced white bread in Dhaka. It’s doughy. If you squeeze it, it will hold your finger imprint. They also sell a few other types of fresh bread but it’s the white that I like.

Le Souffle. It is slightly ridiculous how expensive they are. They have a bakery and sell French baguettes and other types. The bread is hard crust sourdough style. They sell croissants and cakes as well.

Nordic Club: They do great cinnamon rolls… the black bread has too much molasses and tastes slightly off.

Antique bread tins.
Antique bread tins.

The Secret Shop of Dhaka

Carved wooden doors.
Carved wooden doors.

A treasure trove packed into a riddle. Villa Ideas (formerly Ideas Manzil) is a guesthouse (ranked high on TripAdvisor) but it’s also a shop and a restaurant. They have set menus and the food is freshly made. It’s good. We went for lunch and to shop, and the staff at Ideas Manzil had decorated the table with flowers, textiles, and silver salvers. There is a wood carpenter, a leather worker, and a weaver on staff. The range of what one can have made seems endless: leather bottle holders, leather coasters, wood doors, carved fabric hangers… plus all the stuff to buy: boxes, brass, jewelry, Bhutanese textiles, Nepalese rugs, Bangladeshi folk art, lamps, vases, carved wooden walls and spandrels on carved columns (family crest carved into the wood — why not?)…

One of the guest suites.
One of the guest suites.

One must make an appointment to shop here. The proprietor says that he will open a retail corner but… can it remain interesting? Finally, will this place last? Will it remain interesting once my friends have bought all the treasures collected over a lifetime?

Also, does a fabulous job on meals which must be ordered in advance.

The table set for lunch.
The table set for lunch.
Some of the goods for sale.
Some of the goods for sale.

Bangladeshi Wedding Holud Food

Sweet fried dough - jalalopies.
Sweet fried dough – jalalopies.

The snacks and meal at a Bangladeshi wedding “holud” involve some standby favorites like “phoughka” which are fried dough balls filled with chickpeas, vegetables, and spices. When the same ingredients are chopped and served as a “mix” it is called “chop-puhti” which alliterates.  Bangladeshi samosas are called “sringhara” and they are often served as well.  Bangladeshis have a serious sweet tooth so jalalopies (fried sweet dough much like funnel cake) are another popular staple at weddings. The holud will have a start time of 7 p.m. but will not start until after eight (this is Bangladesh after all) and often closer to nine.

Chopped appetizer.
Chopped appetizer.

Somewhere near 10:30 p.m., the food will get served. Dinner is usually biryani with chicken, beef curry, vegetables, chapati, raw cut vegetables, and a sweet rice dessert.

Dancing at the Bangladeshi Wedding Holud

The groom is carried in on friend's shoulders.
The groom is carried in on friends’ shoulders.

At a Bangladeshi wedding holud, or bride or groom’s party, there will be entertainment. Both skits, video skits, and dancing. If you get invited to get dressed up and dance in a wedding holud, say yes! It was great fun. The groom’s holud includes the groom’s party welcoming the bride’s party with flower petals and party favors and appetizers. Next time, I’ll talk about typical food at holuds.

Purple and orange are popular colors and match the petals to be strewn on arriving guests.
Purple and orange are popular colors and match the petals to be strewn on arriving guests.

Wedding Season Again in Dhaka – The Bride’s Holud

Flowers decorate the entrance to the holud venue.
Flowers decorate the entrance to the holud venue.

It’s that time of year again when the Bangladeshis get married. I am lucky to have been invited again. A year ago, I went to a combined holud which I described in an earlier blog. At the bride’s holud this year, the bride was carried in on a palanquin. While the groom was absent, his family and guests attended, carrying gifts. I will blog more about the next part of the wedding later… right now, I need to go to dance practice!

The "mishti" or sweet pots.
The “mishti” or sweet pots.

Madventures.me – 2012 in Review

Happy New Year! Thank you to those who read my blog. If you wondered, I blog using WordPress… and they (or their monkeys) have written this post for me… The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I will keep writing my blog as long as folks keep reading it. Enjoy more food and adventure in 2013! Love and be loved.