Besides a few restaurants in Rockdale, and the hipster rendition called Bang Street Food in Surry Hills, I haven't seen a whole lot of Bangladeshi restaurants in Sydney. So I found it pretty exciting to be dining at Bottola Restaurant, situated at the end of Haldon Street, Lakemba's main drag.
With simple furnishings, and television screens giving diners a visual taste of Bangladesh, this restaurant purports to offer the kind of home-cooked meals that will appeal to Bengali people. Back in the 2011 census, Bengali people were the suburb's largest population group (13.4%) of the 32.4% of residents born outside of Australia.
We're here to try Haleem ($8), which is basically a thick, spicy lentil soup. It's made from wheat, rice, meat (lamb usually) and lentils, and spiced with fresh ginger, cardamom, chilli, cumin, garlic, and turmeric to give it its distinctive yellowish hue. The thick soup is freshened up with coriander leaves, crisp fried onions and lime wedges, with green chilli slices passes separately for those who like extra heat. We eat it scooped onto crisp wedges of layered Paratha ($3) bread and it feels both fresh and filling; so I can see why it's particularly popular during Ramadan.
We end our meal with small pots of Firni ($2.50), a Bengali rice pudding that's dotted with dried fruit and nuts. This small introduction to authentic Bengali cuisine has piqued my interest... next time I'll tackle Lamb Brains Marsala ($12).
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