Food Attack! @ Alam bhaiyer Jhal Muri
Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Food spasms diffuse to parts of the body when you come across this place. This portable food cart is bound to make anyone crave for the enticing jhaal muris it has to offer. This place is no other than, 'Alam bhaiyer jhal muri', situated near the Shahbagh signal around the Faculty of Fine Arts premises. As the signal turns from green to red, passer-bys cross the road in between crowded lanes, to sit on the elevated platform near this cart to enjoy a handful of this mouth-watering muri makha. One can easily spot this little cart, with all its colours, sitting gloriously next to the pavement between the hours, 3:00 pm to 12:00 am. The diversity offered by Alam Bhai is endless.
Starting from mishti muri to special jhal muri and achaar diye jhal muri, everything is available. The best part is that the mishti muri which is only taka 10, is mixed delicately with narikel (shredded coconut) and khati ghee (butter oil). This almost leaves a slightly sweet taste in your mouth, almost commanding your senses to desire for more. The special jhal muri which costs taka 30 is quite heavy and a 'bowlful' of it suffices. This is a combination of crunchy muri, with achaar, beef keema, chickpeas, a dash of salt, and the regular add-ons of sliced onions and chillies. If one wants to slow it down a notch, then achaar diye jhal muri, priced taka 15, is another option. This is quite tasty for a first-timer who isn't looking for a heavy treat! While handing a bowl of this, Alam bhai, explains how this is a popular choice amongst many because of its bitter-sweet and sour flavours punching into the taste bud like a domino effect.
Young students grabbing a quick bite.
In addition, ordinary flavours include jhal muri, kacha chola (chickpeas) and chanachur bhorta at taka 10. In addition, chanachur muri makhani is available at taka 15 and shiddho dim (boiled egg) with jhal muri at around taka 13. Apart from these, different types of achaar (pickles) are also available at this place. Students often stop by to purchase these items on their way home. Bubly Barna, a student from the Drawing and Painting, Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts says, “I often buy the chaaltar achaar from Alam bhai. Their achaars are quite appetising and cheap!” Another student, Ali Farhad, from the Media and Communications Department, Independent University of Bangladesh asserts with a smile, “I love this place. It is our regular hangout point. I come all the way from my university to meet my friends from the Dhaka University area. We have bowl after bowls of the mishti muri until our stomach alerts us that it can bear no more!
In addition, this place attracts the crowd like honey attracts bees. This is primarily because of the choice of location, reasonable price and taste. Most street foods in Dhaka city have a reputation for their hygiene factor. However, Alam bhai is known for his organic and bacteria, formalin free food as one of his modest customers explains from the background, insisting Alam bhai to clarify the reason behind his 6 to 7 years of fame! As I stand there asking the owner and the maker of the delicacies questions, the line behind me keeps expanding. I can hear the enthusiastic whispers as the customers eagerly overhear our conversation. As I step aside, giving them space, Alam bhai says, “It is dark now and hence, the line is so short. I am very proud because this is a small business. Such footpath business does not last long and they dissolve before they can reach a certain point of growth.”