Bakorkhani
Bakorkhani.jpg
Bakorkhani being made in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They can be seen lining the walls of the tandoor oven.
Alternative namesShukha
TypeBread
CourseAppetizer/Dessert
Associated national cuisineBangladesh,[1] India[2] and Pakistan[3]
Main ingredientsDough, ghee, milk, sugar (optional)
VariationsGao-joban, Shuki (shukha), Nimshuki, Kaicha-ruti, Mulam, Chinshuki, Kashmiri

Bakarkhani or Baqarkhani, also known as bakar khani roti, is a thick, spiced flat-bread that is part of the Mughlai cuisine.[4] Bakarkhani is prepared on certain Muslim religious festivals and is now popular as sweet bread.[5]

Bakorkhani is almost biscuit-like in texture, with a hard crust. The chief ingredients are flour, semolina, sugar, molasses soaked in saffron, poppy or nigella seeds, salt, and ghee (clarified butter).

Legend

A single bakorkhani
A single bakorkhani

A legend attributes the bread's name to Mirza Agha Baqer, a son-in-law of Murshid Quli Khan II.[6] According to the legend, Baqer, a general based in Chittagong under Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah of Bengal, falls in love with a dancer called Khani Begum from Arambagh, who was also eyed by Zaynul Khan, the city's kotwal and the son of a wazir. Zaynul attempts to attack Khani for rejecting him, and Baker intervenes, defeating Zaynul in a swordfight. Zaynul 's two companions go and lie to his father, the wazir, telling him that Baker has killed Zaynul. Out of fury, the wazir orders them to put Baker inside a cage with a tiger. Baker kills the tiger and at the same time, the claim of Zaynul's death is found to be false. The wazir, Jahandar Khan, and his son Zaynul then kidnap Khani and set off for South Bengal. The battle continues there as Baker arrives to rescue Khani. In another brawl of talwars, Jahandar accidentally kills Zaynul, after Zaynul inadvertently murders Khani. Khani is later buried in Bakla-Chandradwip (Patuakhali-Barisal). Baker Khan builds a tomb over her grave and Bakla-Chandradwip would be renamed Bakerganj after him.[7] Baker was already familiar with this area as he was a jagirdar in Barisal's Salimabad and Umedpur parganas.[8] The tragic love story of Baker Khan and Khani Begum inspired the bakers to name his favourite bread Bakerkhani.[9][10] Dhaka's first bakorkhani shop opened in close proximity to Lalbagh Fort and many of the city's bakorkhani sellers originate from the Sylhet Division.[11]

The Bengal Subah, specifically Mughal Dhaka, was a hub for merchants from all parts of the subcontinent and even as far as the Middle East and Armenia. Through trade and travel, the bakorkhani became popular outside of Bengal in places such as Kashmir, Bihar, Lucknow and Hyderabad.[12]

Regions

Bakarkhani is popular in the regions of Pakistan,[4] India,[13] Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Russia.[14]

Utsa Ray, a culinary historian, described Bakarkhani as the "pride" of the "gastronomic culture of Dhaka"[15] and according to other scholars, "Bakarkhani gives Old Dhaka a unique and distinct culinary identity".[16] According to Hakim Habibur Rahman, Bakarkhani could not be found in anywhere else than Dhaka during the colonial period.[15]

Preparation

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A plate of bakorkhani
A plate of bakorkhani

Bakorkhani is made by kneading together flour, ghee, in some cases cardamom, sugar and salt with water. The dough is then flattened. The bread is made by stretching a sheet of dough repeatedly and interleaving with ghee, molasses, saffron water, poppy or nigella seeds before baking on a tandoor or tawa girdle.

Variations

Chittagonian bakorkhani
Chittagonian bakorkhani

It is also known as shukha (meaning 'dry') naan or shukha roti due to its dry texture.[6] Hakim Habibur Rahman, author of Dhaka Panchas Baras Pahle, lists three variations of bakorkhani; Gao-joban, shuki (shukha) and nimshuki. There are also other variations such as kaicha-ruti, mulam and chinshuki.[7]

Outside of Dhaka, different types of Bakarkhani are eaten across the country. The Bakarkhani of Sylhet and Chittagong resemble a sweet and syrupy porota,[17] whilst the Bakarkhani of Dinajpur is thick and doughy and often contains pieces of morobba.[18]

There is also a Kashmiri variant of bakorkhani[19] which is a thinner variety, similar to round naan in appearance, but crisp and layered, and sprinkled with sesame seeds.[20] It is typically consumed hot, during breakfast, often with noon chai.[21]

In literature

Bakorkhani shop in Old Dhaka
Bakorkhani shop in Old Dhaka

Bakorkhani is mentioned in lines of a Bengali poem by Pratul Mukhopadhyay:

‘আলু বেচো, ছোলা বেচো, বেচো বাকরখানি
বেচো না বেচো না বন্ধু তোমার চোখের মণি।[22]

Sell potatoes, sell gram, sell Bakarkhani
Don't sell, don't sell, friend, the jewel in your eye.

Pratul Mukhopadhyay

See also

References

  1. ^ Akbar, Ahsan (21 March 2021). "From kala bhuna to shatkora curry – let's all get a taste for Bangladesh". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  2. ^ J Inder Singh Kalra, Pradeep Das Gupta. Prashad:Cooking with Indian Masters. Allied Publishers. p. 129. A rare leavened Indian bread, Bakarkhani is a popular with the Muslims of the Deccan.
  3. ^ Sumayya Usmani (2017). Mountain Berries and Desert Spice: Sweet Inspiration From the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea. Frances Lincoln. p. 51.
  4. ^ a b "This sweet flatbread is in fact a Mughal recipe". Dawn. 2 February 2016.
  5. ^ Shinwari, Sher Alam. "Local pizza, Bakorkhani bread gaining popularity". Dawn. Pakistan. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b Muntasir Mamun (July 2006). Dhaka Smriti-Bismritir Nogori (Updated Version). Dhaka: Anannya. p. 172. ISBN 984-412-104-3.
  7. ^ a b Hossain, Muhammad Faruque (2012). "Bakorkhani". In Islam, Sirajul; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  8. ^ Nazir Hussain (April 1995). Kingbodontir Dhaka (Edition 3). Dhaka: 3 Star Cooperative Multipurpose Society Ltd. p. 293.
  9. ^ "Bakorkhani: delight in every bite". Daily Sun. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  10. ^ Prothom Alo, Chhutir Dine, 4 February 2006
  11. ^ Muhammad Abu Talib (28 February 2015). ঐতিহ্যের বাকরখানি যাচ্ছে বিদেশে. The Daily Ittefaq (in Bengali).
  12. ^ Katti, Madhuri (14 March 2019). "Bakorkhani: An Ode To Lost Love". Live History India. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  13. ^ Food Culture in India. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2004. ISBN 9780313324871.
  14. ^ "Bakarkhani: delight in every bite". Daily Sun. 24 April 2016.
  15. ^ a b Ray, Utsa (2015). Culinary Culture in Colonial India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-1-107-04281-0.
  16. ^ Prakash, Jamuna; Waisundara, Viduranga; Prakash, Vishweshwaraiah (2020). Nutritional and Health Aspects of Food in South Asian Countries. Elsevier Science. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-12-820012-4.
  17. ^ "Sylhety Bakharkhani". khadizaskitchen.com. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Bakarkhani: delight in every bite". Daily Sun (Bangladesh). 24 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  19. ^ Afreen, Saima (6 December 2014). "Bakorkhani, only a sweet memory now". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Culture of Anantnag". District Anantnag J&K. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009.
  21. ^ "Kashmir has special confectionary". Thaindian News. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  22. ^ ঐহিত্যবাহী বাখরখানির ইতিহাস [Traditional Bakarkhani history]. Natun Barta (in Bengali). 25 July 2020.