Here in Rajshahi there is a small restaurant that sells only jelapi. The store is always full and customers take boxes home with them. Right outside the shop sits the Master-Chef. He dribbles the wet dough in swirls into the hot oil. Then he stirs and flips them when they are brown. The the jelapi are dumped into a pan of hot sugar. Then, at at this restaurant, they are served hot.We learned from Nathaniel and Donna that this Master-Chef is Bihar, and he has been making jelapi his whole life. And before him, his father made jelapi!

Jacob has talked about taking me to this restaurant for years now, and we finally went yesterday. As with all Bengali restaurants (which are actually called “hotels”), it’s not a place to sit and chat and eat in leisure. You might share a table with others, and usually a very young waiter comes along and swipes the table with a wet rag to clean off the last person’s remnants. Glasses of water are sloshed down in front of you, and as this restaurant has only one item on the list, the jelapis on small metal plates arrive soon after. People eat without much talking, and wash up in the tiny sink in the back. Then you pay your bill at the desk that’s situated RIGHT in the middle of the restaurant — where an unhurried, well-dressed man dolls out the change to all the customers bunched around him. It cost us 14 taka for our two plates of jelapi — approximately 20 cents!

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