Last night the family and I went to have ‘Sehri’, also known as Suhoor, which is the pre-dawn meal before fasting. It’s the month of Ramadan now and for the last three-four years in Dhaka people have taken their love of food to include Suhoor as well. Restaurants have come up with menus and offers and keep their kitchens open till 2/3 am to cater to the adventurous Dhakaites seeking some delicious food before their fast.
The restaurant – the right word would be- unpretentious. Plastic chairs, cheap cutlery, yellow halogen bulbs, a heady feeling of organized chaos. The busboys rattle off the specials with no waste of breath. The overall attitude is, you know what we have, you know you are here because you have heard people raving about us and their hundred check ins. Don’t worry about it not being spotlessly clean and maybe relax those apprehensions.
Not exactly fine dining, then.
We order basic staples any Bangladeshi is familiar with. White rice, chicken, daal and then go for the specials. Leg of lamb and gigantic prawns.
The food arrives in five minutes. With the first world cup game of the night being over a few minutes ago, people start bustling in, eager to get the eating business out of the way before the next match starts. The atmosphere is electric. There are all sorts of people from all corners of the city congregated here: their loud voices argue about sports and food and the state of the world while the bus boys run with stacks of plate after plate of spicy, rich curries and steamy rice and glistening golden daal.
The food is delicious. Nothing Michelin star quality one can assume, but it’s honest and homely but with enough pizazz to stand out from what we cook at home. But it’s not just about the food. It’s the chase of the thrill that everyone really comes for. It’s something to do. It’s quality time that is somehow made less ordinary by the fact that it’s late outside. The streets are quiet, the roads are empty, and most people should be in bed. But we’re not. We are happily inhaling a leg of lamb and it feels pretty darn good.