A Local's Guide to the Best Street Food in Dhaka
You most probably haven’t heard much about Dhaka, Bangladesh before, let alone the street food of Dhaka, or Bangladeshi food in general. Or, perhaps you have heard that Dhaka is a crazy city, so you never considered a visit there. Many people visit South and South East Asia but never make it to Bangladesh, or its capital. It’s a shame that Bangladesh has been overshadowed by its neighbor India for decades!
Dhaka has so many wonderful places to visit, and the people are so amazing--this incredible city should be on your bucket list! Additionally, once you know more about the street food in Dhaka, you’ll want to visit again and again, just to taste the awesome Bangladeshi food!
Contrary to what you may find in some other Asian cities known for their street food, like Taipei where most of the street food is sold at night markets, or Beijing where they sell from small shops, the Dhaka street food is actually still sold on the streets.
I live here, and believe me, even my mouth has become watery while looking at my Dhaka food photos for this writeup!
The Best Street Food in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fuchka—#1 Bangladeshi Street Food
Fuchka, also called Panipuri, is the most popular Dhaka street food, hands down! You won’t find a person who will pass the street food carts without having one. Doesn’t matter where you are going, you will grab one if you see Fuchka! Although this food is pretty common in the Indian subcontinent, the one in Bangladesh tastes better, of course.
Fucka is a crispy hollow shell. Depending on the type of Fuchka, they may have mashed potatoes, yogurt, tamarind syrup, chili powder or chickpeas inside. It’s simply mouthwatering. However, be aware of the level of hotness you can withstand as it can be extremely spicy and burn your tongue!
Pitha—Sweet Bangladeshi Snack
Pitha is the name of a group of pancake-like fritters. You will find many kinds of pithas for sale on the streets of Dhaka especially during winter.
The notable ones are Bhapa, Chitoi, Aamdosha and Paatishapta. They are mostly round in shape, and mostly sweet in taste. My favorite, for example, Bhapa pitha is made of rice flour, coconut, salt, and Molasses.
Try as many of these sweet Bangladeshi snacks as you can!
Badam and Boot—Roasted on the Dhaka Streets
No Bangladeshi street food list would be complete without Badam and Boot. You will find a van on almost every corner in Dhaka selling Badam and Boot, a mix of mostly peanuts, chickpeas, and different types of beans.
The seller carries a stove and roasts them instantly, so you will be able to eat them while they are hot! Ever tried fresh roasted peanuts that way? This is even better!
Peyaju, Beguni, and Chop—Traditional Bangladeshi Food
We are fond of fried food in Bangladesh, and you will see this reflected in the street food in Dhaka.
Peyaju is made of mashed lentils, and Beguni is made of brinjals along with flour, and both of them are deep fried in oil. In a peyaju and beguni shop, you will also find chop which is a mix of mashed potato and sliced egg which are then fried. I won’t be surprised if you also find some fried prawns there.
Jhalmuri—A Favorite Dhaka Street Food
People in Dhaka can die for Jhalmuri, they are so tasty! I often try to figure out how they make such a deadly combo within such a short period of time— peanuts, cucumbers, onions, chillies, tomatoes, rice puff, chanachur, lemon - they all mixed up and shaken in a rhythm to make this wonder!
Sheekh Kebab with Luchi—A Typical Bangladeshi Meal
Sheekh Kebabs are made of beef. They are marinated with spices and sauces and kept overnight. In the evening, when the darkness looms, the meat is skewered and placed on an open flame to grill.
These kebabs are not limited to street food in Dhaka; they can often be considered a full meal. These taste best when they are served with luchi. Luchi is a small round shaped, deep-fried bread. Nothing can beat this combination of beef sheekh kabab with luchi.
Fresh Roasted Corn—Vegetarian Street Food in Dhaka
I’ve eaten corn in many parts of the world, and most of it is sweet. However, in Dhaka, corn is served differently. It is kept in a van, and when you order one, they will roast it on the fire, with some salts and sauces. They taste sour and hot and nothing short of extraordinary!
There is a lot of vegetarian Dhaka street food, but with fresh roasted corn, there is no doubt about what you’re eating!
Bhorta—A Specialty of Bangladeshi Cuisine
When exploring the street food in Dhaka, you should definitely consider Bhortas. These can be made with anything from eggplant to fish, but the best ones are mainly a cocktail of mashed fruits. They are mixed together and served with a variety of sauces. The bhortas are mostly sour with a hint of sweet and can be hot depending on how they are served.
Malai Cha—Bangladeshi Tea
Malai Cha is a special type of sweet tea. It is made with cow’s milk which is made very thick first. Interestingly a tea stall is very common in Dhaka. You don’t need to walk for more than a kilometer in any direction to find a Bangladeshi tea stall.
Amsotto—A Dhaka Sweet Treat
Amsotto is a kind of sweet, dried mango. But, they are different from similar types of food in many parts of the world. This is a dry food and can be preserved for a long period of time. So, if you like its taste, you can take it with you to your country .
Halim—A Staple Bangladeshi Food
We cannot discuss street food in Dhaka or Bangladeshi cuisine for that matter, without mentioning Halim.
Halim is a thick lentil soup made with local spices. Then, meat, mutton, and/or beef are added. This traditional Bangladeshi food is served hot out of a large pot on the grill/stove. You can add some rice puffs or bread along with your halim.
Paan—A Controversial Dhaka Food
Some call paan the king of street foods in Dhaka, others say it’s a mouth fresher, others a drug, and to others it’s a digestive.
What it is is a betel leaf which is served with betel nut, tobacco (optional) and different kinds of sweetener. Usually, you need to chew it and throw it away after a certain period of time, however, most of the juices will get inside of your stomach and help you to digest.
Hawai Mithai—Roadside Cotton Candy
Hawai Mithai in Dhaka are so colorful, it takes me to my childhood every time I see them! They vanish if you keep them outside, and it made me wonder where they go when I was a kid.
Even now, although it may not seem like a typical Bangladesh street food, I grab one when I’m feeling playful to bring out the kid in me, and I love them as much as I used to!
Fruit Juice & Local Bangladeshi Fruits
You must be very thirsty after sampling so many street foods in Dhaka and are probably craving some drinks. You won’t find many liquor stores in Dhaka to satisfy your thirst. However, you will find some fresh fruit juices, mainly papayas, watermelons and pineapples.
You will also find a variety of seasonal, local fruits in the street of Dhaka. I am pretty sure, you haven’t tasted all of the Bangladeshi fruits. The most popular ones are guava, jujube, water chestnut, hot plum, wood apples, gooseberries, sapodilla, and star fruit. I could not find any English words for some of them. This should not deter you from trying them. They are not only refreshingly delicious, but a healthy alternative to some of the more traditional street food in Dhaka.
A word of Caution about street food in Dhaka
If you are from the western world, you might find some of the foods spicy and hot. Your stomach might not be able to recognize them properly and you will end up in the toilet. I am not saying this will happen to you if you have any of them, but, you should be a bit careful and avoid having them all at once?
Want to have a food walk in Dhaka, Bangladesh?
If you want to taste the street food in Dhaka with a local, you are in luck! Being a food lover, I like to go out with people to take them to the best places to enjoy the vibe of the city and taste the food. And if you have a sweet tooth, we can also explore the heavenly sweet shops and bakeries. Drop me a message in my travel blog, A Walk In The World, if you want to take this guided trip with me.
About the Author
Fuad loves to travel! A lot! Carrying a Bangladeshi passport means he needs a prior visa for visiting most countries. He got detained in many borders because of his nationality, but he didn’t give up--he has set his feet on 37 countries. Fuad is a Computer Engineer by profession, and author of a travelogue in Bangla. He currently lives in Dhaka and offers guided food walks and Dhaka tours in English. All images have been provided by Fuad. Find Fuad online: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram