My friends and family are well aware of my aversion to hot beverages, particularly tea and coffee. But, every time I politely decline an offer for tea and explain that I’m not a fan, I’m met with the inevitable question: “Why?” To be honest, I don’t really know. I avoid the hot leaf water when I can, but I’m still a fan of tea time. After all, it’s the perfect excuse to try some of my favourite snacks.
Bela Biscuit with milk tea is probably the most popular afternoon snack in Chattogram. According to legend, the Portuguese brought a version of the recipe to these shores. Then Chattogram’s very own Gani Bakery perfected the recipe. Though its name may evoke thoughts of the mesmerizing Bela Bose, its origin comes from a certain biscuit vendor named Belayet Ali.
Bela Biscuit wears its rustic charm proudly. Although it is a bit of a tough nut to crack, it unveils an unexpectedly airy texture once you break through the surface. This rugged exterior, however, contributes to its popularity as a companion for tea. Unlike other biscuits that crumble upon contact, the Bela Biscuit maintains its integrity, allowing the tea’s flavour to seep into its airy pockets. Surprisingly, I even enjoy it without the tea, mostly because it fascinates me that a biscuit as hard as a hockey puck can be so light inside.
When I first started going to school, my favourite breakfast was muri, or puffed rice, with tea. Not because it was the heartiest option available, but because the act of extracting a handful of muri from a steaming mug of tea, armed with nothing more than a tiny teaspoon, felt like a mini adventure. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, it allowed me to stay home instead of going to school. By the time I had navigated the challenge of the breakfast ritual, my first class would often be over.
But I had a great excuse. When teachers asked about my lateness, I would say: “Breakfast took longer than expected!” Sometimes I still eat muri and tea for nostalgia’s sake. And, though I remain skeptical of tea, there’s something oddly satisfying about having it in spoonfuls instead of sips. It reminds me of a homegrown form of cereal, one of the few breakfast items that have truly won me over.
My favourite snack for a tea break is the small, thick flatbread known as bakorkhani. It comes in three varieties, each more captivating than the last – plain salted, sweet, and cheese-topped. My affection for all three burns as passionately as the oven in which they are baked. Unlike other teatime snacks, bakorkhani isn’t meant to be dunked into tea. Instead, it paves the way and feels like the main attraction, with the tea playing the role of a chaser.
In a way, it is the opposite of the Bela Biscuit. Whereas the Bela has a tough exterior and airy interior, the bakorkhani has a flaky crust that transforms into hearty density as you dig in. Sure, an overly enthusiastic eater may find themselves on the verge of choking, but believe me, the risk is worth it. There’s an inexplicable satisfaction in savouring a snack your way, regardless of how audacious the task seems.
These stalwart edible sidekicks have stood by me through thick and thin, allowing me to navigate the dangerous waters of tea-less tea breaks. I’ve become a seasoned hand at dodging the hot beverages, but thanks to their company, I too can take part in the irresistible charms of tea time.
Source: This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com’s special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.