There was a time when noodles meant plain white ‘Cocola’ noodles cooked with only eggs, onions, and chillies. In winter, some colourful vegetables were added to it.
Mixing shrimp or meat was also an occasional luxury. Gradually, as the popularity of instant noodles grew, so did the kitchen experiments.
The names spaghetti, pan-fried pasta, chow mein, chop suey, baked pasta, lasagne, etc. became popular among middle-class diners as well as the upper-middle class. But how many people can afford to go to restaurants very often to find the taste of their favourite food?
“My mother's idea is that any food bought outside is unhealthy. If she fries Shingara in deep oil at home, that is no longer a junk food, it becomes healthy,” Meherin Sultana, a Viqarunnisa Noon School & College SSC candidate was sharing about her mother with fun.
Chocolate Chip Cookies by Sadia Afroze
Her mother, a housewife Shahin Sultana, started recreating restaurant items at home to balance taste and health.
"Even 5-6 years ago, going to restaurants was not so popular in this country. And in those restaurants, you could find things like 'not so complex,' which can be made at home with a little effort."
From that time on, Meherin's father wanted pizza, burgers, chicken fries, and fried rice to be made at home. Since her mother was not that familiar with YouTube at that time, Shahin Sultana had to do a lot of brainstorming to crack the recipes.
Caramel Pudding by Sadia Afroze
On the other hand, it took her a long time to recognise herbs like oregano and rosemary or the use of different types of cheese. But she did not give up. Gradually, she brought the taste of the restaurants to the homemade food.
“In the beginning, the pizza dough used to be sometimes found very runny or sometimes harder than needed. The same goes for Momo's dough. Every failure gave a new lesson with a new idea of measurement.”
While making Momos with her mother, Meherin found interest in making Momo sauce and gochujang substitutes in the kitchen of native ingredients, and that was successful too.
"I think it's important to notice each flavour of food separately while eating. This is where the idea of what flavour and texture come from. Just like tasting Momo sauce outside, I found the taste of garlic, pepper, and tomato was prominent in the food.”
There are a lot of housewives like Shahin Sultana who do experimental cooking just to meet the cravings of their family members at home.
Turkish Flat Bread by Sadia Afroze
But there are exceptions like Sadia Afroze, who started her professional cooking course out of her interest in an online-based homemade food business. Although she has not begun the bakery business yet, she is still running all her fancy cooking experiments at home.
Blonde Brownie by Sadia Afroze
It is not like only homemakers take time out for cooking experiments. Even though being busy full time, Anjuman Ara - Manager, Finance/Accounts of Multimode Group used to make restaurant foods for her kids.
Her bakery croissant is still the favourite of her daughter Tabassum Tabriz among many other dishes. Being a healthier snack, steamed Momo is also common in her kitchen.
Whether working or students, many men in this country have mastered some of the basic cooking skills, but most of them still do not think of getting out of stereotypical thinking and entering the kitchen to make fancy foods like in restaurants.
But the number of seasoned cooks ignoring these stereotypes is no longer small. Amateur photographer Shaishob Rahman has a different take on sweets. From that affection, he started various dessert experiments at home.
A few decades ago, people knew Shemai, Payesh, Pitha, Naru, or Halwa to mean homemade sweets in Bangladesh. But Shaishob Rahman's main attraction is international cuisine like tiramisu, baklava, lava cake, cupcake, cookies, pastry, fancy pudding, croissants, etc.
Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake by Sadia Afroze
When it comes to fancy cooking, there are some seasonal chefs too. "My mother never allowed me to enter the kitchen as I was a boy, so I never knew how to cook. But I used to cut meat on Eid-ul-Adha since I was a little older.”
“When the hype of steak is new as a restaurant item, the first thing that came to my mind during Eid-ul-Adha is whether steak can be made at home,” honours final year student Shanto Chowdhury was shared his first interest in cooking.
Homemade pizza by Shaishob Rahman
Making steak at home was a fascinating thing for him as it was one of his favourites and also one of the most expensive food items in restaurants.
However, he was first afraid of using lots of butter, herbs, and meat; what if it is ruined! But the result prompted him to try again.
"In fact, many of us don't want to take risks with food; afraid of being wasted. But the most popular and delicious foods in the world result from someone's risk."