A mason jar, filled with fresh coconut water - the type you find on tropical islands and exotic beaches – was sitting on the table.
I took the first sip of the milky white concoction. It was refreshing and soothing - a perfect drink for a humid September day in Dhaka. They call it the Coconut Blend and the price is Tk180.
That afternoon, I was at Jatra Biroti - a vegan restaurant at Banani. Closed since March, Jatra Biroti resumed operations on September 1. Currently, the operating hours are between 1 pm and 10 pm, seven days a week.
"How tasty would a vegan platter be, if tasty at all?" I thought to myself. I was sitting on a foam mattress, and there were two cushions to support my back against the bamboo pillars.
I got up and took a little stroll around the place and found other customers, mostly young couples, occupying the other seating areas similar to mine.
Since it was lunchtime, I had ordered a mushroom wrap from the menu. My plate arrived. The wrap was cut in half, with mushroom stuffing and tomato salad on the side. Brown wheat had been used to make the bread. All the flavours were separate. The spices tasted just right and the food was perfectly cooked. The wrap is enough for one person and is priced at Tk280.
"You must try our mushroom tehari," said Arthy Ahmed, the general manager of Jatra Biroti, adding that it's new on the menu.
She explained that the tehari is cooked with a special, locally-grown variety of brown Pilaf (polau) rice, mushrooms and a blend of spices used for traditional tehari, all cooked in fresh and aromatic ghee instead of the traditional mustard or soybean oil.
The platter is served with a side of labra-like mixed vegetables and raita, and is priced at TK480.
Although the tehari tasted very different from that of a traditional meat-based tehari, it still was delectable. It was a bold take on our beloved tehari.
Also, nothing beats Jatra Biroti's khichuri platter served with eggplant bhorta and a fresh salad of tomatoes and cucumber on the side.
Pholbahar is the new sensation on Jatra Biroti's menu.
It is a nutrients-packed bowl made with seasonal fruits infused in coconut milk with loads of sabudana and flaxseeds, served in a mason jar. The Tk220 vegan dessert disappointed.
I also ordered puli pitha from their menu, a savoury puli, which is stuffed with spinach and Dhakai cheese, and served with a mustard dip. I think puli is always better in its sweet form and a plate of this savoury take on puli pitha costs around Tk220.
I ended my Jatra Biroti expedition with a cup of masala milk tea - a perfect way to bid farewell to an adventurous ride in the world of vegan food. A cup of the spiced tea is priced at Tk80.
Jatra Biroti offers a range of fresh seasonal juices and snacks. You can enjoy your time over a plate of phuchka or some chitoi pitha while hanging out with friends. But do not forget to try their patishapta.
If you are into experimenting with vegan food, I suggest you try the mushroom halim or sticky rice platter.
Jatra Biroti means to take a break from the journey and I suggest that if you are taking that break, why not take it with something healing, soothing and rejuvenating for the body and soul?