In Chattogram, the Mejban dish is sold in a special way. Traditionally, a red cloth covers a large container on a coal heater. Whenever the customers arrive, they get the hot dish prepared from beef and spices. All restaurants in the city follow this practice.
Usually, the demand of this dish is available round the year. Earlier in the month of Ramadan, the sale was stopped.
But the people of Pirbari in Chowmuhani started selling Mejban dish for the satisfactory iftar of the Muslim devotees. Since then, the dish gained popularity across the city, and the restaurants in Chattogram started selling it.
This traditional menu is one of the delicious items for ifter now.
However, many of the restaurants in areas like Bahaddarhat, Muradpur, Chawkbazar, and Kazir Dewri are not selling this dish.
Besides, the sales have also dropped to a great extent.
In line with the Mejbani dish, the restaurants also sell Morog Polaw, Chicken Biriyani, Chicken Tanduri, Mutton Tehari, among others.
Rodela, a reputed restaurant in Kazir Dewri, sells Mejbani dish for Tk900 a kilogram. It also has a package of 500 grams as well.
Shibu Paul, manager of this restaurant, said, "At present, we are selling around 40 kilograms of this dish per day. But in past years, we have sold around 120 kilograms a day."
A customer of the restaurant, Mohsin Hossain said that Mejbani was the tradition of Chattogram.
"So, I take home this dish for iftar. Earlier, I used to take it every day but now, the frequency has dropped."
Though the dish is prepared using beef, it has a specialty.
Cook Abul Hossain, of Kazir Dewri, has been preparing this dish for the past 30 years.
"You need to select the cow carefully as not all the beef is suitable for this dish. Besides, it needs certain spices to make it delicious. And there is a rule of applying the spices," he said.
Or, you will not have the Mejbani flavour, he added.
The exact time when this traditional dish started is not known. However, historians have found the presence of this item in literature of the 15th and 16th century.
Many of the poets, writers and historians have mentioned this particular dish in their writings.
On the other part, another restaurant — Handi — has also been operational amid this coronavirus outbreak. But the restaurant has parcel service only.
Imtiaz Uddin, owner of the restaurant, said that the sales dropped around 70 percent.
"There are over 1,000 hotels and restaurants in Chattogram," said Syed Abdul Hannan Babu, general secretary of Bangladesh Restaurant Owner Association's Chattogram chapter.
The administration ordered keep the restaurants opened but only parcels should be sold, he added.