Narinda, one of the most jam-packed areas in Old Dhaka is a popular hub for foodies.
From desserts to scrumptious kababs, crispy 'bakarkhani' to delicious 'dal puri' or the traditional tehari, or spicy basmati kachchi, there is absolutely nothing a food lover cannot find here.
But when you begin to explore this food-paradise, a beautiful aroma is bound to stop you for a moment.
It will lead you to a place close to Old Dhaka residents' hearts – Jhunu Polao Ghor, Narinda's best place for 'morog polao'.
Situated on one side of Narinda's busy road, Jhunu is a compact shop that can hold 25 people at most.
But that is not a big issue for the shop as its takeaway service is very popular.
In fact, when guests appear without any notice, the locals always prefer to serve them with Jhunu's food.
The epicures from New Dhaka also visit Jhunu to discover whether the restaurant does, in fact, serve one of the best morog polaos in town or is it just another over-hyped place famous because of its prolonged business?
Serving a delicacy for half a century
Undoubtedly Jhunu is a successful venture as it has been proudly operating for almost 51 years.
It started in the year 1970 on a small scale by a man called Nur Muhammad. He named the shop after his beloved daughter Jhunu. He was not only the proprietor but also the 'baburchi' (chef).
His polao's specialty was that it had mild spices, special 'chinigura' rice (a kind of short-grained, aromatic rice), and local chicken.
After his death, the ownership was passed down to his wife who gave the shop's responsibility to her brother.
And the most significant position, which was of the cook, was taken by Nur Mohammad's former assistant baburchi.
The shop's cook is 60-year-old Muhammad Fojor Ali. He is originally from Rangpur but moved to Dhaka at a very young age. Since then he has been working at Jhunu.
In the beginning, he was just another waiter. But afterwards, when he proved his ability to the late Nur Muhammad, the latter decided to teach Fojor Ali the tricks to create his masterpiece to continue the legacy.
Fojor Ali did not let him down. He has been working relentlessly for 35 years to enchant people with the delightful aroma and taste of Jhunu's polao.
Torchbearer of the legacy
We asked him whether he was asked to work for other polao shops because of his skills.
He replied, "Yes, I have been asked by many people to work for them, but my heart does not agree to leave this place. I belong here and I hope to work here for the rest of my life."
We also asked about his reactions towards people's compliments and complaints. He replied that the compliments give him immense joy and the complaints make him work more carefully to serve people better.
"We always prefer to use fresh ingredients as we are concerned about the taste, and the health of our customers. People who will eat our food, we ensure that they do not have to worry about its quality," he added.
While some say the taste of the polao may have decreased over time and it needs more spices, the majority of the customers claim it to be perfect because polao is different from biriyani. Unlike biriyani, polao contains fewer spices and less oil or fat.
Nonetheless, as a 'Dhakaiya' person, I have adored Jhunu since childhood. The unchanged scent and flavour of this dish never disappoints to provide me with a nostalgic hit.
Enjoying a steaming plate
When the big pot full of steaming polao arrived from the kitchen, we knew we had to dig in!
We ordered a plate of this regal dish to calm down our growling stomachs. It was Tk120 and contained a piece of chicken, one egg, and plain polao.
If you add another chicken it will cost Tk165 and if you want extra rice, it will cost Tk240.
One of the special items is chicken liver which is only served at the beginning of the day and it is free.
Every morsel of the delicious polao mingled with tender deshi chicken, egg, chicken liver, and fresh salad would warm your soul. The cherry on top was their quick service.
We asked the workers how thriving their business is, as it has been surviving for more than 50 years.
They said on working days they sell more than weekends, and because of their food's consistent taste, the demand never reduced drastically other than last year.
The demand was extremely low when the pandemic started and as a result, they faced a huge loss.
Even though things are becoming better slowly, they are worried that if the current condition continues, it will again have an adverse effect on the business.
However, they are hoping to see their business booming in the coming Ramadan. At that time of the year, customers seek to satisfy their hunger with 'Puran Dhaka' delicacies.
So the white and red boxes of Jhunu, filled with mouth-watering morog polao, will always be ready to satisfy your craving for a traditional iftar.
The shop opens at 1pm, but the closing time varies according to the customers' demand.