20 June 2023

Five minutes with Shahidul Islam, BD Dine

| James Day
Start the conversation
Fatima and Sha Hi Dul Islam stand next to each other in the corner of their restaurant with lamps hanging over the tables behind them.

Husband and wife owners of BD Dine, Sha Hi Dul and Fatima Islam. Photo: James Day.

Who are you?
My name is Shahidul Islam, I am originally from Bangladesh but moved to Australia in 2008 as a UNSW PhD Engineering student. In 2012 I completed this program, along with the long journey to receiving my citizenship.

Since then, I have worked in the public and private sectors on a full-time basis, but this side business is my passion.

What is your business?
Initially, I purchased the business in Harrison from another Bangladeshi person and ran it with a group of others, but now I am the sole owner and run it with my wife Fatima Zohra.

Our purpose together is to show the people of Canberra what Bangladeshi cuisine is, after realising that there weren’t many options for it in the Territory.

I think people often get the food confused with other Desi cultures like India or Pakistan. There are many differences but as one example, when making biryani, Indians and Pakistani people often use a lot of tomato, turmeric, mint and oriental leaves.

However, in our country, we never use any tomatoes in our biryani, and we cook the meat with the rice instead of separately.

READ MORE Things to do in Canberra this week (26 May to 1 June)

What’s a dish that you make that best sums up what your venue does?
The best dish we make in my opinion, served only on special occasions, is the Kacchi Biryani. It is made with goat meat, along with aromatic Bangladeshi spices like Garam Masala, white pepper, fried onion, ginger and garlic paste.

Kacchi comes from the Bengali word kacca, which means raw. So when we cook it, instead of making them separately, we first put raw meat in the bottom and half-cooked rice on top. With the meat insulated by the kalijira rice it allows the flavours to rise through and provide that aroma. This provides the base of the meal more taste throughout the slow cooking process, which is done over a low heat for two to three hours.

A rose tinted shiny bowl of goat biryani on a white table with cutlery in the background.

BD Dine’s goat biryani is served with a boiled egg and rice cooked in an aromatic spice blend called polao. Photos: Chowbus.

What’s a drink that best describes you?
We have a special drink called borhani, which we make with cumin powder, white peppers, green chillies, mustard, mint and coriander leaves.

If you have ever tried a lassi, this would be considered very similar as it is mainly constituted of yoghurt, but tastes spicy instead of sweet. The only difference aesthetically is it is green, but don’t let that scare you.

What is an ingredient that you can’t live without?
I couldn’t say just one – there’s far too many, so I’ll have to make a political choice here and reject the question entirely.

What do you wish people understood about your job?
Sha Hi Dul: In our restaurant, we cook all the food from scratch and serve it only with fresh ingredients.

Fatima: Yes! No microwavable or frozen food here, it is all authentic and made on-site. This includes our chefs who came from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to ensure we get the food of our home right.

Our families there inspired us to build this restaurant into what it is and are counting on us to provide the best quality, so we are not taking any chances.

Chicken in a white teardrop shaped ceramic bowl with set of cutlery on its right, all laying on top of a grey placemat.

The chicken roast is not oven baked, but prepared in the traditional Bangladeshi style and served at parties. Children are especially fond of it as it is mild in spiciness and slightly sweet too like Butter Chicken.

Where do you dine out in Canberra for comfort food?
Fatima: For me, it is Kinn Thai in the city.

Sha Hi Dul: Although I will say we do cook a lot of Desi foods at home, but like everyone else, we must indulge ourselves at times!

Where do you dine out for special occasions?
Sha Hi Dul: In the city, we always like to explore new food and restaurants.

Fatima: However, if we were to pick a particular venue, which we often go to for our anniversary, it would be the Hyatt Hotel restaurant the Promenade Cafe, which has a fantastic buffet with plenty of halal options.

What’s your go-to coffee?
Sha Hi Dul: For me, it is a mocha.

Fatima: It would be the same for me, but I love getting it from Coffee Guru because it is nice and mild. I find McDonald’s coffee much too strong.

White bowl of chotpoti on a grey placemat.

Chotpoti is a Bengali street food dish served with chickpeas, potatoes, onions, tamarind sauce, coriander leaves and a topping of boiled eggs.

Where would you take out-of-town visitors to show off the best of Canberra?
Obviously here!

What’s your dream travel destination?
Sha Hi Dul: Apart from going back home, I would very much like to go to Singapore and eat the fantastic Desi food there.

White square plate with small fuchka dotted around a chilli sauce, next to a set of silver cutlery.

Fuchka is filled with mashed potatoes, unlike its closely related dish panipuri, and is a popular street food throughout Bangladesh.

Where are you excited to eat next?
Fatima: We are looking forward to trying the newly opened El Jannah fried chicken restaurant in Gungahlin.

What are your top 3 recipe tips?
Sha Hi Dul: You have to choose the best quality spices, with fresh ingredients, and be in absolute focus when cooking. Not only your physical being but your mind as well.

Fatima: Keeping in mind the balance of spice is the most important for me.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Sha Hi Dul: Our restaurant offers a range of halal options at the disposal of the Canberran Islamic community.

Fatima: We also want all the people of Canberra to know we are here serving something different to the usual Desi food they’re used to. So please, come and try.

BD Dine is located on the corner of Flemington Road and Nullarbor Avenue in Harrison. It is open Monday and Tuesday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Wednesday and Thursday from 12 pm to 10 pm, Friday from 12 pm to 10:30 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 10:30 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm. More information can be found on Facebook.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.