As a spice, the humble Onion has indispensable contribution in Bengali cuisine and recipes. However, due to unprecedented price hike of Onion in recent days, masses of Bangladesh are facing hard times to afford this spice for cooking everyday meals. In this situation, the question arises: is there any substitute for onions in cooking without compromising the taste and flavour?
You can use Onion powder or Onion Flakes instead of raw Onions. If you want to cook without Onion, then let’s check out some smart substitutes of Onion in cooking Bengali cuisines.
Chives are one of the best substitutes of Onion. It can create an Oniony flavor in the recipe with a bonus hint of garlic. Chives look similar to green onions. Through the lens of genetics, Chives plants belong to the broad Onion family. Chives plants bear glass blades like thinner stalks with tiny bulbs.
What most amazed us about Chives is that the whole plant – including upper portion of the Chive Stalks, green glower, and leaves – can be used for cooking. Chives plants are enriched with diverse vitamins and nutrients including Vitamin C, B1, B2, niacin, carotene, and some other mineral contents.
In 2017, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) invented ‘Chieve1’, a high yielding variety of ‘Chive’ crop widely found in China, Mongolia and Siberia. Scientists expect that this local variety can grow in Bangladesh round the year.
Garlic is a popular spice widely used in recipes with Onion. Garlic works as a great substitute when we omit Onion from certain Bengali recipes. However, to replace the Oniony flavor you may have to add a little more Garlic paste depending on the type of cuisine you wanna cook. Garlic is rich in zinc, iron, Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, and C), folate, sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and phosphorous.
While cooking Bengali recipes, Onion plays a great role in condensing the gravy. You can use chopped vegetables like carrots and tomatoes to substitute this thickening effect of Onion in gravies, different curries, soups, salads, etc.
You can also apply diced Bell Pepper in cooking as gravy thickener. Thinly chopped Cabbage can also replace the flavor of Onions in some dishes. Furthermore, Grated veggies like Bottle Gourd, Ridge Gourd or Snake Gourd can substitute Onion in a variety of dishes, including curries, soups, gravies, desserts, etc.
Melon and cumin seeds could be another smart substitute of Onion. Create a mixture of freshly ground Melon seeds, Cumin seeds, Yogurt, Coconut Paste or milk. This fusion can perform great to thicken the gravy of any curry. You also use Cashews, but it is more expensive than Onion.
Fresh ginger can stand as a smart substitute to Onion for many Bengali recipes. It may perform better if used with garlic paste. Ginger is rich in Vitamin B3, B6, and C, Phosphorus, Iron, Folate, Magnesium, Zinc, Riboflavin, Potassium and Niacin.
Dried Fennel seeds are one of the most common spices used in Bengali recipes. In the country, Fennel seeds are popular as ‘Mouri’. Fennel has an anise resembling flavor. You can use all parts – foliage, bulb, plant and seeds – of this aromatic herb in the process of cooking and food preparation. Bearing medicinal properties, Fennel seeds are enriched with manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Onion is used in the preparation of various recipes for rendering aromatic flavor. When you don’t have Onion in your kitchen don’t panic! You can put chopped Celery to your gravies, curies, sauces and soups to imitate the Oniony flavor. Celery is rich in diverse vitamins and minerals including Vitamins (A, C, and K), Folate, and Potassium.
This spice is highly popular in Indian recipes for its pungent flavor. Depending on the quantity, it takes only one or two pinch of Asafetida or Hing to prepare a dish, in general. However, this spice is not widely available in Bangladesh.
Undoubtedly, it is hard to find an exact alternative to Onion, as it plays a versatile role in creating flavour, taste and texture in Bengali cuisine. However, Chives can be a potential substitute for Onion, if produced in the country. In this article, we have discussed some other Spices and vegetables, as smart alternatives to Onion. If you are a little creative with recipes, you can replace the taste and flavour of Onion with these spices and vegetables available in the country. Thus we can combat the ongoing crisis without breaking the bank.
When talking about desserts, limited number of restaurants and cafes strike our minds. Some of them (but not limited to) are Butlers Chocolate Café, Tabaq, The SweetSin Coffees, Secret Recipe, and The White Canary Café. However, many restaurants go unnoticed in terms of their desserts and, I believe, El Patron is definitely one of them.
With about 6 or 7 dessert options on their, menu El Patron truly serves some of the most unique and delicious items I have had in Dhaka! But first let’s talk about their interior. Since I am not an architecture expert, I can’t really point out the flaws they might have in terms of the interior. However, from an aesthetic point of view or just as a visitor, I was in awe of the ambience they managed to provide with their design. El Patron being a fine dining restaurant managed to live up to their promises of making you feel like you are in an elegant space. Starting from their cutlery to skylight and ceiling to floor window every aspect of this restaurant makes you feel like you have stepped into exclusivity.
Now coming to the highlight, the desserts, we ordered a Tiramisu, because I absolutely love this Italian dessert and order it whenever I find it on a menu and my friend ordered a Spicy Chocolate Mousse because she was intrigued by the description which stated that it is seasoned with Paprika! It goes without saying that presentation wise, the desserts were as gorgeous as their interior. Even just by looking at the Tiramisu layers I could understand that it would be moist and moist it was! Not only were the ladyfingers perfectly soaked in coffee and giving it a bitter taste but the sweetness from the mascarpone cheese did a fine job balancing out the bitterness. The cherry was literally the cherry on top of this wonderful dessert. I can say without a doubt that this is the best Tiramisu in Dhaka!
As for the Spicy Chocolate Mousse, we weren’t prepared for what was about to hit us. At first spoonful, it tasted like a regular but rich yet airy chocolate mousse. The fine quality of slightly bitter chocolate fills your mouth and a few seconds later, it hits you; the spice! The paprika did such a fine job complementing the taste of chocolate. I have heard of the combination of chocolate and chili but having tasted it firsthand made me realize why they go together so well.
In all, you all have to drop by this place at least to try their desserts. While their price point might be a turn off for many, unless you visit El Patron, you won’t realize that it’s not just the outstanding food that you are paying for but also the experience they take your through.
By Ifreet Taheea
When Moolicious’s posts started popping up on my Facebook and Instagram feed, I was ecstatic about the fact that finally, apart from Johnny Rockets and a few other places, a place serving proper milkshakes. But to my dismay, this place failed to live up to the hype they created.
Moolicious is located on Banani 11, a prime spot for any and every eatery. Thus, it goes without saying that it caught many people’s attention while passing by. To top that off, they also promoted by offering to give a discount to those who spotted their location and sent them a picture of their shop. This attracted a larger number of people making their first week of operation so hectic that they had to wait to restock their ingredients.
I paid them a visit in their 3rd or 4th week of operation. I had found out that their Caramel Popcorn thick milkshake was making quite a buzz and ordered so. I also got a Luscious Blueberry from their fruit shake options. It took me quite a few sips but still I couldn’t wrap my head around why these drinks were so popular. Because you could take their environmentally non-friendly bottles back home? Or because a milkshake shop is a new concept in town? Till date, I couldn’t understand why their so-called, non-thick, sweet drinks became popular.
From the Caramel Popcorn I had expected some saltiness or at least thickness of milkshakes, to say the least. But it delivered none. For the price I paid, I think serving the drinks in bottles are just a lazy way of presentation whereas, in general, you see real popcorn toppings on a shake with such name. As for the Luscious Blueberry, it was better than the prior drink. The color was a lovely purple and the consistency was thicker than my thick milkshake *major eye roll*. But once again, the pricing was too high for the taste. The syrup bottles stacked at the venue were what all other shops in town use. I assume, you can guess which brand I am talking about. I do understand renting such a prime location and bringing those bottles rise the price margin but taste-wise the drinks were nothing that unique.
I do still see posts from their loyal customers going back for more of their milkshakes but, in my opinion, Moolicious isn’t worth their price tag. I’d much rather go to Johnny Rockets to enjoy their delicious burgers with their classic shakes!
By Ifreet Taheea
A few months back when I visited Yue Kee Central, I came back as a disappointed customer but after their re-opening they managed to bounce back quite well! To start off, their interior is all baby blue and floral making it quite an Instagram-worthy spot! They also have an outdoor balcony seating arrangement overlooking Abahani field and honestly, the view of Dhaka city from there is breathtaking!
Assorted Dimsum Platter
(Prawn Hargow, Chicken and Lemongrass, Sesame Beef)
Amongst the 3 I think the prawn one really stole the show with how juicy the stuffing was. The beef comes second with its meaty yet mild flavor. The chicken ones wrapper was extremely thick and the stuffing bland.
Prawn and Cream Cheese Wonthon
This one could have been fried slightly longer but the stuffing was delicious! The combination of juicy prawn and thick cheese mixture is an amazing one!
Yue Spicy Fried Rice
This fried rice was filled with chicken, beef, prawn, and calamari! A must have from their menu if you love spice in your rice.
Seafood Rice Bowl
This one is a meal in itself. The prawn tempuras were fried perfectly and the Asian Pan fried Fish had a sweet and sour taste with a brilliant crispy batter.
Sweet & Crispy Sweet Chicken
I liked this dish of their better before. Unlike my last time, this one had an uber thick, non-crispy coating and an overly thickened sweet sauce.
Yue Fried Chicken
While the chicken was cooked really nicely with a crispy skin on. The sad bit was that the sauce didn't seep through the chicken as nicely. But if you cut off bits of chicken and dip it in the sauce, it tastes quite nice.
Garlic Mushroom with Red Oil
A MUST HAVE FOR SURE! The thick red oil (as they call it but it doesn't taste anything like red oil), is sweet and peppery and goes really well with the meaty mushrooms. While they are canned ones, they managed to clean it really well as neither the smell, nor the taste bugged me.
Beef and Mushroom in Mahlak Sauce
Lean cuts of meat were dipped in a thick brown sauce which has a curry like taste. Personally I wasn't a big fan of it because of how deshi the taste was but the beef was really tender.
Red Velvet Cupcake
The red velvet looked really cute and perfect! The frosting managed to stay in place but slightly lacked the vinegary acidity but overall is one of the best red velvets I have had in town. They serve the same ones at The SweetSin café as well.
Honey Noodles with Almondflakes
This dish is addictive no matter where I have it. The sweetness here wasn't as overwhelming but the noodles could use a little bit more frying and toasted nuts.
By Ifreet Taheea
Even though a lot of restaurants in town claim to serve authentic Mexican cuisine, only 2 or 3 actually do. Even El Toro, which has been around for decades, has adapted their dishes to our taste buds. La Cantina in Banani is a new Mexican place which not only sources their produce straight from Mexico but also brought in an international chef to help prepare their menu.
I absolutely fell in love with the creamy and refreshing Guacamole which comes with slightly salty and light chips. If you're looking for the perfect guac in town, this is the place to go. The Nachos' 1:3 portion had me stoked. Stacked with black beans, fresh salsa, pickled chilis, cheese (both white and melted yellow cheese) and lime cream, this is a dish to kick off catch-ups with friends. I would have liked to dip some of the chips with some sour cream though.
Next came the Baja Fish Tacos. I'll be honest, the soft shells tasted more like 'ruti' despite of the corn flour being sourced from Mexico. The fish was fried yet light. The chipotle cream and pickled onions added some flavor but not the punch that I had expected. I'd recommend you to ask for their spicy sauce which definitely adds a kick to every bite.
As for the Horchata, it tasted like spiced water with Cinnamon to me. Since it's made with rice milk, I appreciate that those with lactose intolerance can opt for this drink but for myself, I wouldn’t order it again.
For desserts, we ordered these crispy sugary treats stuffed with Dulce De Leche (caramel) called Churros which are served with an ancho chili chocolate sauce.
Previously, I would order Churros at Cilantro but over time, they have become quite oily. But the ones here are just perfect! They're crisp yet doughy and the caramel stuffing is just the cherry on top. The slight hint of spice from the ancho chili of the chocolate sauce balances out the sweetness from the caramel and cinnamon sugar.
The Tres Leches Shortcake are 3 small milk cakes which are topped with mango mint salsa. I was impressed by how light yet flavorful the cake was. The texture of the cake is between plain cake and pudding. It's spongy and as soon as you have a bite of it, you get a mango milk taste. Overall, simply put, it's cake and mango milk. Wish the taste of the mint was more prominent and the portion was slightly bigger.