Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Bangladeshi Food Festival in the Netherlands

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Diplomat Magazine
Diplomat Magazinehttp://www.diplomatmagazine.eu
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

By Roy Lie Atjam

The Bangladesh Embassy organized the first-ever Bangladeshi Food Festival in the Netherlands, 7-8 March 2024 at the Royal Leonardo Hotel, The Hague. The Embassy rolled out this culinary exposition in collaboration with the Diplomat Magazine and Leonardo Royal Hotel.
Diplomatic missions in the Hague effectively use their culinary heritage as a tool for public diplomacy. “Many Europeans, particularly Dutch people, tend to think of Bangladeshi food as being similar to the “Indian food” found in restaurants. However, we have noticed that Bangladeshi cuisine is not often offered as a fine dining option. This is why we want to change the perception of our traditional cuisine and position it in an innovative way.” expressed H.E. Mr. Riaz Hamidullah, Ambassador of Bangladesh,

H.E. Mr. Riaz Hamidullah, Ambassador of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi chefs Sayat Chowdhury. and Sheikh Emdadul Haque.
Bangladesh Food Festival, March 2024.

Chef Sheikh Emdadul Haque, has been working as a chef at the Bangladesh Embassy in The Hague for eight years. Prior to joining the embassy, he worked for four years at the Bangladesh Embassy in Tashkent. Emdadul hails from southern Bangladesh, a region famous for its freshwater fish, particularly the renowned black tiger shrimp. He has a deep passion for his culinary style and enjoys blending traditional spices into his dishes.

Chef Sayat Chowdhury Originally from southern Bangladesh, Sayat Chowdhury moved to the Netherlands seven years ago to attend university. Yet, his uncanny love for food and faith in his ability to connect-nurture-inform landed him in professional kitchens. Having worked at Restaurant Arles, Restaurant Elkaar and Foer, he pursued his Bachelor’s and Master’s in New Media & Digital Cultures (University of Amsterdam). Currently, he holds his first full-time position as chef de party at REM in Amsterdam.

The Bangladeshi Food Festival Menu

At the outset guests were greeted with a live Jhalmuri station and green mango juice to tantalize their taste buds.

“Finalizing the six course menu was a challenge as we tried to incorporate a variety of dishes ranging from street food (jhalmuri) to everyday dinner (khichuri, bharta) and special occasion dishes (pulao) as well as traditional sweetmeats. In a time where a vegan plant-based diet is trendy, even in continental Europe, let alone the Netherlands, we aimed to balance our menu and present the dishes attractively to our guests.”

“We used our aromatic rice – Chinigura – in pulao and khichuri and served the famous black-tiger shrimp. Homemade Potato Homemade halwa was served as a dessert to balance the sweetness with crunchy, savory bites as also connect with the Dutch i.e. where potato is a staple. Additionally, the main course was presented on banana leaf. Finishing with traditional milk tea.

To create an attractive ambience, we incorporated different elements that made the hotel staff stand out with their elegant checkered and striped patterns of red, orange, or green Gamcha (scarf), which added to the charm.” declared the Bangladeshi chefs.

On both evenings, two expatriate Bangladeshi artists,  Saikat Barua dressed in a majestic Bangladeshi traditional attire and Swarnaly Chowdhury, enthralled the guests with their rendition of popular live Bangladeshi songs.

Bangladeshi artists,  Saikat Barua and Swarnaly Chowdhury.

A selection of Bangladeshi crafts at the restaurant entrance added to the ambiance.

The Leonardo Royal Hotel The Hague Promenade was completely booked for an event attended by two former Dutch Ministers, Mr. Jan Pronk and Mr. Tom de Bruijn. The event was also attended by Dutch government officials, distinguished businessmen, and ambassadors, including the Dean of the diplomatic corps, H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem. The gastronomic adventure received high praise from all attendees who were impressed by the distinct taste, aroma, and flavours of the culinary experience.

During the inauguration remarks, H.E. Mr. Riaz Hamidullah, Ambassador of Bangladesh, declared “we highlighted the diversity of food in different regions of Bangladesh. We also emphasized how food is an integral part of people’s identity, and how specific ingredients have been traditionally used in the preparation of various dishes, which are still associated with Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh Food Festival Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Diplomat Magazine’s Publisher.

The Diplomat Magazine’s Publisher expressed gratitude to the Embassy for their collaboration in organizing the special event. They appreciated the rich tradition of Bangladeshi cuisine, which they described as “a symphony of flavors”. The Hotel’s General Manager, Mr. Thomas Kortleve, then addressed the guests, explaining how the Bangladeshi gastronomic tour would offer an exciting experience that celebrates the authentic combination of spices, flavours, and colours.

A Bangladesh Food Festival raffle, with interesting prizes, was included as an integral part of the festive program.

If this continues in the future, it will have a lasting impact on Dutch society, which values and embraces multiculturalism.

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