Cooking with Concern: A Bangladeshi Recipe to Try at Home

December 1, 2021
Written by Sharmila Das

Born and raised in “the city of joy and food,” chef Sharmila Das (Sharmilaz Kitchen) shares a flavorful dessert to try at home.  

This year the Concern Global Gala: Unite to Fight Hunger is all about the power of food. That’s why we’ve partnered with some amazing chefs to stand united to fight global hunger. As a special treat, we will be sharing a few recipes that celebrate the human spirit and the power of food in the countries we operate.

Sharmila Das (Photo: Facebook)

Sharmila Das (Photo: Facebook)

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely-populated countries, with a population of 165 million. Known as a riverine country, it’s located on the deltas of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, which flow in from the Himalayas. Home to a monsoon climate characterized by moderately warm temperatures and high humidity, the fertile alluvial soil of loose clay, sand, and gravel, is found in the flooded areas. Bangladesh predominantly grows rice and jute, tea, wheat, oilseeds, and other vegetables and beans with such land. Amid the bounty that this land provides are the destructive effects of its climate in the form of monsoon flooding as a low-lying nation susceptible to tropical cyclones.    

Operating in the country since 1972, Concern’s key projects include emergency response to the country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis to the Rohingya crisis, urban development to build social safety nets in urban areas, and health and nutrition through the Essential Healthcare for the Disadvantaged program. This initiative aims to increase access to essential health services for 2 million people (about the population of Nebraska) — including an estimated 138,000 persons with disabilities — living in hazard-prone coastal areas of Bangladesh.   

Bangladeshi food incorporates fragrant spices into its meat, fish, lentils, and vegetable dishes with its staple of rice. Born and raised in Kolkata, known as “the city of joy and food,” chef Sharmila Das (host of Sharmilaz Kitchen) shares a flavorful dessert to try at home.  

Hungry for more? Sign up for Concern's newsletter

Ranga Payesh (Caramel Rice Pudding) Recipe

Serving Size: 6 

Caramel Ingredients 

  • 4 tbsp sugar 
  • 2-3 tbsp water  

Rice Pudding Ingredients 

  • 4 tbsp Jeera Rice  
  • 4 cups Milk  
  • 4 tbsp sugar 
  • 1 Handful of Rock sugar candy  
  • 2 tbsp ghee 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom powder 
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup raisins

Cooking Instructions  

Wash and soak Jeera Rice for 20 min. Once soaked well, rinse and drain the excess water.  

Fry cashews in ghee for a few minutes. Before taking out, put in raisins. Fry for a few seconds until they puff up.  

Fry the rice for 2 -3 minutes. 

Flavor the milk with bay leaves and cardamom powder. Let it come to a boil.  

After boiling the milk, add in the rice, cashews, and raisins, cooking the rice until soft. 

In the meantime, make the caramel: Cook the sugar with a little amount of water until deep brown for about 8-10 minutes. 

Add in the caramel, sugar, and rock sugar candy to the rice, cooking for 30 min on low heat until the payesh thickens. 

Once thick, the rich creamy ranga payesh is ready to enjoy! 

As Sharmila explains, payesh is a Bengali version of rice pudding. Ranga payesh is a slight variation of the “soulful dessert,” chaler payesh. Adding the caramel to the milky rice pudding provides the red hue and taste because of caramel, hence the name.

The missing ingredient

Though poverty levels have reduced over the last decades, there are still approximately 40 million living in poverty in Bangladesh. Despite 40% of Bangladesh being underwater at the peak of this year’s rainy season, we continue to meet the health and nutrition needs of those who are food-insecure.

Concern needs your support to deliver life-saving programs to the most vulnerable people in the hardest-to-reach places facing hunger.