Rice is the main ingredient of this spicy and sour dish
Mundi, a traditional Marma ethnic food in Bandarban is gaining popularity. Mundi houses are springing up in the district and are selling these dishes that look like noodles. Alongside locals, the food now has appeal for tourists from home and abroad.
Due to a rising demand for mundi, at least 30 Mundi Houses have sprung up in Ujanipara, Madhyampara, and Balaghata in Bandarban.
Uchi Maung Marma, owner of Kong Rong Mundi House in Ujanipara, said: “My restaurant has become a place for young people to have fun and entertainment. It is popular among them.”
Mundi houses start getting crowded in the afternoon. Due to the increasing demand, at least 30 Mundi Houses have been set up in Ujanipara, Madhyapara and Balaghata areas of Bandarban.
Imtiaz Ahmed, a tourist in Bandarban, said: “I just tasted Mundi and it is great. It's a taste to remember.”
Ma Ting Ting Marma, a teacher at Bandarban Government Primary School, said, “The Marma community has been making Mundi for a very long time. The commercialization of this traditional homemade meal is benefiting many families financially.”
Ching Nu Mong Marma, a Mundi maker, said: “Rice is kept soaked in water for two to three days. Then the rice is cleaned and dried on a small sifter. Then it is powdered and made into a dough. The dough is then pressed through a special device and out come the smooth, long noodle-like Mundi.”
He said it is possible to make two kg of Mundi with a kg of rice. Mundi costs Tk80 to Tk100 per kg to make, and each bowl is sold at Tk10-20.\
The dish is served with fish curry, soup, or shrimps. Pepper powder, onion, coriander leaves, lemon juice and dried fish are also mixed for added flavour.
The food has recently been in competition with noodles coming in from Myanmar and China. Restaurant owners said local Mundi artisans are losing interest in occupying the foreign dry mundi market.
Ko Ko Marma from the city's Madhyampara, said that if support were available, many could be self-sufficient selling Mundi. It would be possible to take this delicious food to different districts of the country after meeting local demand. Locals have urged the government to provide assistance and easy bank loans for the survival of this industry.