Brown Don’t Frown Podcast

Season 4: Ep 36 - Dina Begum on the symbolism of food, Bangladeshi hospitality and our favourite dishes

July 11, 2021

The final episode of season 4 is here and joining us is Dina Begum, a British-Bangladeshi cook and writer who is passionate about highlighting the underrepresented recipes and authentic food traditions of Bangladesh.

For Bengalis and Bangladeshis, and across much of the South Asian continent, food is inseparable from humanity, community, purpose and love. I ask Dina why food is so important to her and whether she always saw herself as a cook. Food is a very visceral experience. Flavours, spices or certain dishes can be nostalgic if we associate them with a particular memory or event. Food can symbolise traditions, rekindle a sense of identity and bring people together; that’s why Bengali hospitality is second to none. We look at why food is so critical to familial spaces and what it symbolises for us.

In the UK, most of what we class as “Indian food”, is curated by Bangladeshi restaurant owners and chefs. The recognition and appreciation for homemade-style food and the desire to seek out unique flavours is a more recent phenomenon which has empowered the Bangladeshi diaspora to spotlight their cuisine, rather than grouping it under “Indian” or “curry”.  Dina has written about how recipes are passed down from one generation to the next, usually not by writing them down, but by demonstrating. We consider the contrast between the observation/estimation styles of Bangladeshi cooking versus the meticulous measurements in English recipes.  Finally, we talk about our favourite Bangladeshi dishes and our three staple spices for the kitchen.

You can follow Dina on Twitter: @dinasfoodstory.

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