The Desirable Murgi
Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Living in the heart of Dhaka, university going students are aware of the places where they like to eat and want to eat, but it is indeed surprising how there are so many places left yet to be found and discovered. One of those few places is in the dingy corner of the streets at Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University, popularly known as Charukala. Right in front of one of the college gates, one is likely to find a man with a small portable gas stove, frying cubes of 'murgi' (chicken) dipped in flour, a handful of spice commonly referred to as 'kebab masala' by one of the sellers and a 'secret' ingredient, which remains a mystery to many generation of students. This desirable murgi is not available at all times and can only be found within the late hours of the afternoon from four o'clock till eight at night.
The best part about this fried chicken is that it is extremely scrumptious and, not to mention the spice is a killer. It will simply make your mouth water at the very sight and smell of it. Although, at times you might accidentally get an stomach cramp at night, but there are always exceptions to be made when it comes to good, but not completely hygienic food.
In addition, some times one might accidentally find a chicken bone or two while eating a chicken and realise later that they have been chewing on that bone, assuming it was meat. This is a food delusion, which makes one think that it pretty much tastes like the meat itself! Jamil, a student of Charukala says, “It has happened to me so many times. I was so hungry that I bought 10 pieces of chicken and by the time I got to the eighth piece I was biting on the bones and I figured out later that it was only covered with the coating and had no meat in it. But even that bone was so juicy and spicy!”
The price of these succulent pieces of chicken is very reasonable and economically convenient for university goers. It costs around Tk 10 per piece of chicken and usually students buy around 5 pieces depending on how hungry they are. This would make them spend around Tk 50 in total and fill their tummies almost instantly. Another senior student Mou, who often goes to Charukala during any cultural festival to re-live her young days, exclaims, “I love this chicken. I come here several times a year. It is so much easier to buy 10 pieces of chicken with Tk 100 than spending Tk 130 on one piece of chicken outside at some expensive restaurant.”
Apart from the chicken, other items are also available here. As Sadek mama (one of the hawkers) says, 'alur' (potato) chop and french fries are sold at cheap rates. 'Alur' chop costs around Tk 5 while a packet of french fries hardly costs Tk 10. If a student buys five pieces of chicken and french fries, he is set for the day! The fries are delicious as they are served with the 'secret spice' and black salt, which makes it all the more finger licking tasty.
For years, Charukala has been the hub and a sort of melting pot for the entire student community of Bangladesh. Be it from far or near, students from all across the city and the country come to this institute to enjoy cultural programmes. Particularly, during, this time of the year, when Pahela Baishakh just passed, students from private and public universities gather at this place to welcome the New Year. A large heterogynous crowd is found around the chicken wala's stall. Coming from diverse backgrounds, they engage themselves with the eating habits and culture of this institute.
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