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Bogra’s premier food destination: Beguni khala

  • Published at 01:14 am January 6th, 2019
web-Bogra’s premier food destination: Beguni khala
Beguni Begum’s stall in front of Shahid Chandu Stadium in Bogra town Dhaka Tribune

Every day, from around the town and beyond, people come to this makeshift shop next to the entrance of Shahid Chandu Stadium in Bogra’s Khandar area on Carmichael Street

Asadur Rahman, from Bogra town’s Namajgarh area, works in a private company in Chittagong. During the election, he got a seven-day leave to come home.

On Saturday night, he was getting on a train to get back to work. But before that, he had to do one thing. When this correspondent met Asad, he had been standing for about 10 minutes in a queue in the town’s Stadium area in front of a small shop for his favourite ‘chitoi,’ the rice-flour cake or ‘pitha’ that is a winter staple.

This is not just any pitha stall. Beguni khala (aunty) is a household name in the town for many years. By her own account, Beguni Begum and her husband Idris Ali have been doing this business here for 20 years.

In the time that Asad was telling his tale, Abdus Salam Babu, a middle-aged father, arrived by auto-rickshaw with his five-year-old girl Ammajan. Getting down, he immediately ordered 10 kusholi, five chitoi and five jhal pithas.

Every day, from around the town and beyond, people come to this makeshift shop next to the entrance of Shahid Chandu Stadium in Bogra’s Khandar area on Carmichael Street.

Five wood-fire clay ovens are burning simultaneously, and three cooks are working them, struggling to meet the slew of orders coming from three directions from a crowd of customers. Two young men are in charge of taking orders and packing the pithas.

It’s a long wait and some customers are seated around the pavement, glancing enviously at those who have already started eating. Some are collecting their orders and rushing off to home while the pithas are still warm.

The industry has grown since Beguni’s days. Now, from here to the town’s Zero Point, all the footpaths are filled with pitha shops. Customers say with the increasingly busy urban life, the culture of making pithas at home is a dying tradition. But for most, the taste of warm sugary or spicy rice cakes remains an essential part of the winter experience.

Beguni told this correspondent her seasonal pitha business continues throughout the winter. Hers is a truly family business, with grandson Sifat helping out with the orders as well.

“We start off in the afternoon and work till midnight, and the crowd of customers just keeps coming in,” she said.

She said her stall now makes several popular kinds of pitha, including bhapa, chitoi, jhal and the sweet and spicy kusholi. The bhapas are Tk10 apiece, chitoi Tk15, jhals Tk12 and kusholis Tk7. Some customers prefer to take an egg fried atop the kusholi.

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