Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Baking, Bangladeshi style

After my magical morning in the graveyard yesterday, I took myself on a culinary safari through my kitchen in the afternoon.

It all started off so well…

Kicked off with making yogurt. Bangladesh has truly outted my inner hippy. That and the fact that I’m on antibiotics for the year (malaria meds) and I thought getting friendly bacteria back in my gut would be a good thing. Well, that’s what those Yakult ads tell me. And I’m a big fan of yogurt, and it’s very difficult to find here in Rangamati. So I ordered a yogurt maker off the interweb, and my lovely sister sent it over for me. Problem is, you need yogurt to make yogurt. The friendly bacteria don’t just magic themselves into your yogurt. Apparently.I tried bringing Aarong yogurt back from Dhaka with me. Yogurt did not survive the journey. Tried transporting yogurt from the much closer, only 2 hours away, Chittagong. Yogurt did not make the journey. Eventually found a place here in Rangers that I would order some from. And today was the day I was going to make the yogurt into more yogurt. Mixed 1/2 UHT milk with milk from Moanoghar’s diary (un-pasteurised I’m sure). Mixed in few teaspoons of yogurt (couple more than indicated on instructions, for good measure as yogurt here is quite runny). Forgot to add the powered milk, which apparently makes it thicker. Trial and error, it’s all trial and error here. Put into little containers, switch yogurt maker on. Done. Or it will in 8-9 hours.

Next up were the meringues. Got some yolk in the whites as I separated the eggs. Damn. Delia says this is a big problem. Whisked with hand whisk. Arm almost fell off. But got my stiff white peaks in the end. Decided to forgo the pounding of sugar in pestle and mortar to grind into caster sugar. Pestle and mortar smells, and tastes, of onions, pepper corns, garlic and chilli. Decided to err on the side of grainy meringues, instead of savoury meringues. Didn’t have baking paper. So spooned my little creations straight onto baking tray.

Pop them in the pre-heated oven.

At which point the electricity goes off. Obviously.

Ok, I expected this. I think, it’s Friday and Fridays are usually good electricity days. I’m convinced they save power for the holy day. Won’t be long until it’s back on.

3 hours later.

Comes back on. Goes back off.

At this point I have meringues deflated in the now cold oven, and who knows what happening with the yogurt in the yogurt maker.

Comes back on. Meringues cooking well. Take a quick shower*. Come back to meringues flatter and browner than I’d like. These babies should be white, not brown, perky, not flat. Electricity goes off again. Fine for meringues, it’s all over for them anyway.

Needless to say meringues were a unmitigated disaster.


Meringues: Not the look I was going for

Ongoing electricity  issues (continuing throughout the night) not so fine for yogurt. Or whatever was then growing in my bedroom. Had yogurt maker plugged in in my bedroom. Kitchen only has one plug, and thought since it would be on for 8-9 hours, I’d rather keep an eye on it in my room (where I spend my Friday afternoons). Bangladeshi electricity scares me. Had visions of electrical fire from unwatched yogurt maker.

Woke up this morning to ‘yogurt’ that smelled like cheese. Blue cheese. And looked like it too.

Needless to say yogurt was an unmitigated disaster.

Now that is what I call a culinary cluster fuck. Or, baking Bangladeshi style.

Will however not be deterred. Will try again soon. Yesterday a real freak. electricity wise. It’s usually bad, but not that bad.

* throw water from a bucket over myself using a jug, as don’t have actual shower.


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