From very hard to very soft
They both melt. This is definitely why cheese and chocolate aren't found in the streets of Dhaka, but only in air-conditioned supermarkets such as Agora. When it comes to cheese, of course, the nicely wrapped packages are presented to customers in a refrigerator. “Our store on Gulshan Avenue has the biggest selection of cheese,” says Shams Haider, head of retail operations and marketing at Agora. “Customers mostly opt for sliced cheese,” says Haider, as sandwiches can be prepared very quickly with them. According to Haider, Agora imports a lot of cheese from Australia, a smaller amount coming also from Europe via Dubai.
The cheese section at Agora on Gulshan Avenue might look very small, especially to Europeans in Dhaka. Even so, there is a good variety and every cheese can be prepared in different ways. Here is a rough guide, from very hard to very soft.
Pecorino Romano and Grana Padano are hard, salty Italian cheeses like the better-known Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan. They are mostly suitable for grating over pasta, stirring into soup and risotto, and eating in chunks with balsamic vinegar or cherry tomatoes. These Italian cheeses are also key ingredients in pesto, the green pasta sauce.
Another famous cheese has its origins in southern Europe. Feta, the white, crumbly cheese is a traditional Greek food and is mainly used in salads. The Feta blocks are chopped in pieces and added to a bowl of leaf salad, cucumbers and olives.
Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese that is also popular in the rest of the Middle East and Greece. It has a high melting point and can easily be fried or grilled. Halloumi goes well with barbecues, salads or vegetable dishes.
There are some other relatively hard cheeses to be found in supermarkets in Dhaka. Usually, there are different sorts of English Cheddar, from very mild to rather sharp-tasting. The cheese coming closest to traditional Swiss cheese is Allgäutaler, a mild cheese with a slightly nutty aroma. It has equally large, cherry-sized holes and looks and tastes similar to the famous Swiss Emmental Cheese.
To think of French cheese means to think of soft cheese. Camembert, for example, is a creamy, surface-ripened cheese. It is popularly eaten uncooked on bread, as its texture does not survive heating. Brie is another very soft cheese, pale in colour with a slight greyish tinge under a rind of white mould, which is typically eaten. Try this cheese with hot potatoes or grapes.
Another soft cheese comes from Denmark. Danish Blue has a sharp, salty taste, similar to the well-known Roquefort cheese. It is often served crumbled on salads or as dessert cheese with fruit. In Denmark, it is often served on bread or biscuits.
The creamiest cheese you will find is Ricotta. It is a grainy, fresh cheese, slightly sweet in taste and similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants. Ricotta is a favourite component of many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes. It is often beaten smooth and mixed with sugar, cinnamon, orange flower water and chocolate shavings.
Not to forget, there is Paneer in the cheese section as well. Paneer is a fresh cheese common in South Asian Cuisine. Its preparation diverges based on its use and regional variation. While cuisine in the northern states of India features paneer in spicy curry dishes, its use in Bengali cuisine is mostly restricted to sweets. Paneer is often distinguished from Ponir, a salty, semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavour and high salt content. Hard Ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits, or deep-fried in a light batter.
And what about chocolate, then? Well, there is a very basic collection of different brands at stores in Dhaka. You can buy whole nut chocolate, caramel chocolate or the well-known Mars bars. But to find real Swiss chocolate, known as one of the best tasting chocolate, is really hard. One of the biggest Swiss brands, Lindt, does not export any chocolate to Bangladesh. And according to Monika Schaer from the Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers, in 2009 only 153 kilograms of Swiss chocolate were exported to Bangladesh. Of
course, no one knows how many kilograms melted on the way.
By Andrew Jones
Save the planet
As we march towards another new year, it would be appropriate to make some resolutions that benefit the planet we walk on, which give us all its bounties to enjoy. Every little bit helps:
Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn't recycled it can take a million years to decompose.
Diaper with a conscience
By the time a child is toilet trained, a parent will change between 5,000 and 8,000 diapers. Whether you choose cloth or a more environment-friendly disposable, you're making a choice that has a much gentler impact on our planet.
You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that's environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.
Rethink bottled water
Nearly 90 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with boiled water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health.
Feel like you spend your whole week trying to catch up with errands? Take a few moments once a week to make a list of all the errands that need to get done, and see if you can batch them into one trip. Not only will you be saving fuel, but you might find yourself with much better time-management skills.
Turn off lights
Always turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room. Fluorescent bulbs are more affected by the number of times it is switched on and off, so turn them off when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more.
D-Damas @ Pink City
World famous jewellery brand D-Damas have launched a showroom in Gulshan's shopping mall Pink City. Dhaka's Gitanjali Jewellers have marketed the international brand, sepecifically with the tastes and preferences of high-end consumers in mind. D-Damas's showroom was inaugurated by Uttara Group's chairman Babu Giri Dari Lal Modi. Also present were the head of Gitanjali Jewellers Paban Kumar, Mrs. Kushum, and Uttara Club president K.M.R Manzur.
Speaking about D-Damas, Paban Kumar said, “We hope to earn our valued customers' trust by providing quality products at D-Damas.”