Traditional Turkish coffee is gaining popularity in Bangladesh, especially in the capital Dhaka, thanks to its unique taste and its status as an icon of lifestyle.
On the week of World Turkish Coffee Day, on Dec. 5, the love of Turkish java is spreading Turkish culture, language, and clothing styles, as well as popular TV series.
Shafin Azad recently organized a weekend family get-together in Mirpur, an area of Dhaka. The teen, along with his five cousins, sister, and sister-in-law, saw a film at a local movie theater.
“After enjoying movie time, we choose to visit a Turkish café near the complex zone to take in Turkish coffee and cuisine to complete our weekend fun and get refreshed over sips of coffee,” he said.
“For coffee lovers, coffee is no simple drink, but rather a lifestyle, a feeling and a refreshment,” Turkish cafe owner, Md Faysal, 33, told Anadolu Agency.
An official at Istanbul Restaurant in Dhaka told Anadolu Agency that the establishment imports coffee beans from Turkey and prepares them using a traditional Turkish method, as the unique taste and coffee-making process are gaining popularity in Bangladesh.
Coffee day to explore tradition
Turkish coffee was added to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Dec. 5, 2013. Since then, World Turkish Coffee Day has been celebrated every year.
It is celebrated to promote Turkey’s 500-year-old coffee culture and its significant historical value while building cultural bonds.
Swapan Das, the manager of Turkish Bazaar & Restaurant in the Banani area of Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency that there is a difference between Turkish coffee and other varieties, like in the West and the Indian sub-continent.
“Turkish cuisine is gaining in popularity more than ever, certainly among young people. Bangladeshis not only come to have a sip of coffee but also to be introduced to Turkish culture and tradition through traditional items we import from Turkey for visitors.”
Since the restaurant and store was founded in 2012, it has seen the number of similar establishments rise, he said. “We have Turkish ceramic items, pots, showpieces, and traditional dresses for sale.”
“The sale of those items is good, and people are fascinated to wear traditional clothes to feel the (spirit of) popular Turkish TV series based on the legendary accounts of historical figures from the Ottoman and Seljuk Empires on Bangladeshi TV channels,” he said.
Turkish people and traders who visit Bangladesh also stop in to enjoy Turkish coffee, he said.
Cultural, religious connection in Turkish-Bengali ties
Sajidul Islam Sojol, who teaches the art of living at Daffodil International University in Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency that many who once lived in Turkey became fans of Turkish coffee and simits, the famed Turkish sesame bread rings.
“The recent popularity of TV series has led Bangladeshis to be fascinated by Turkish cuisine. And Turkish coffee is no isolated item, but rather part of Turkish culture and tradition,” he said.
Sojol, a graduate of Anadolu University in Eskisehir, central Turkey, added that the Bangladeshi and Turkish cultural connection started long before imported TV series became popular.
Over a century ago, people from Bengal took part in the conflicts of the Ottoman Empire war and raised funds for its efforts.
“Muslims in Bengal feel attached to the glory of Turkish culture, history, and the rule of the Ottoman Empire,” he said.
“Bangladeshi users became top downloaders of the Turkish messaging app BiP when it got sudden hype in the face of Western apps,” he said, referring to a controversy earlier this year over WhatsApp’s use of user data.
“And these can explain the affection and connection between Bangladesh and Turkey.”
Turkish tea, coffee, doner, and kebabs remain popular in the Bangladeshi community, especially among those who lived in Turkey for education or trade.
"This coffee day provides us with the history of Turkish coffee. Apart from enjoying the coffee, we discuss the friendships, culture, and understanding of Turkish culture and tradition," he said.
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