Before every Qurbani Eid, when I hear people discussing the expected price of the cow or which market they will favour this Eid or how the streets will be inundated with blood and gore and at the same time how the city will be free from crowds and traffic snarls...I always seem to be oblivious to these everyday concerns and funnily enough have a very weird smile on my face. Not that I am a sadist and enjoy the slaughter of those sad-eyed beautiful animals, but because of my sweet, childhood memories.
Like anyone growing up from my generation, we were brought up in large sprawling houses with gardens and trees. Life was so simple then, that Eid was a huge deal for us, unlike children now who think Eid is so boring. Anyway, back to us. I remember one particular Eid when our father got a whole cow for ourselves. Normally, we would share the qurbani of the cow with relatives or friends. But that year it was so significant...we had a whole cow to ourselves! This thin, grey, doe-eyed, shy creature was all ours. My younger brother was so excited that he couldn't sleep the whole two days he was with us. He made garlands out of paper and looked at him as lovingly as Da Vinci did at Mona Lisa. Photographs were duly taken to mark the occasion where our mother stood proudly with her three offsprings who were so desperately trying to look nonchalant. Yes! Noses were scrunched up from time to time when the prized animal did what he HAD to do, but even then it did not deter us from its side. The cook, the gardener, the driver were also so excited. Because this year they could join with their colleagues and discuss the price of the cow their 'shaheb' had got. That year was so special...we had a whole cow for ourselves.
Then a couple of years down the line our skinny cows graduated to cows with sleek, shiny skin with humps on their backs. The cold meat my mum made out of that hump still brings back gustatory memories.
Then slowly life took certain turns and, presto! We found ourselves immersed into apartment living. The first couple of years we did the car- park-space-turned-into-butcher's-den thingy, but the stench, which lingered for weeks put us off so badly that we went further away from the spirit of qurbani and started the ritual of slaughtering the cow at the factory grounds in Gazipur. I then made such a fuss of not getting enough meat to distribute, so my poor, harassed hubby promised two cows for me next year to give to my heart's content. You know these men, diary... they don't know nothing. So many people that you thought were dead and gone...suddenly resurrect for their portion of the meat and I have nothing to give.
Anyway, now this last incident will totally sum up the view of a child of the nineties. Shayer (my baby) was back for the first time since he went to university. Luckily it coincided with the Eid holidays so he was happily thinking of all the bhuna and jhura meat he would be consuming all through his flight time. So, the D-day arrives and we as a family leave for Gazipur to oversee the event. As it takes like an hour to reach the factory, my sleep deprived child falls asleep. Then as we reach our venue he is woken up to join his father to do the needful. So as he stretches himself out of the car he says to me "Mom, I have just named our cow." Me, with all the enthusiasm as I could muster, asked him in my goofiest, honey-dripping-voice..."What baba?”
He then looked straight into my eyes and dead panned..."lunch". Diary, I rest my case. So everybody out there, Eid Mubarak! Have a happy Eid the Sam Q. Way.
Potato bean and tomato salad
2 kg small potatoes, peeled and diced
500g green beans, sliced diagonally
2 red capsicums, sliced
6 egg tomatoes, sliced thickly
½ cup (125 ml) virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp mustard
1 tsp crushed sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until tender and then drain. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients of the mustard dressing in a bowl and mix well.
Boil or steam beans. Let the vegetables cool. Now arrange potatoes, beans, capsicum and tomatoes, and mix well with the mustard dressing. Serve cold.
Spicy Thai beef salad
700g rump steak, trimmed
Chilli lime Dressing:
½ cup limejuice
1 tbsp fish sauce
3-4 Thai red chillies, sliced thinly
2/3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander root
? cup firmly packed coriander leaves
½ cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
4 small onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp white sugar or to taste
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
Boil the rump steak with salt and pepper. After it is done and cooled, then slice up the beef thinly.
Now take all the ingredients of the chilli lime dressing and mix well. Mix with beef and serve cold.
Bhekti fry with sesame seeds
½ kg bhekti fillet
1 cup onion paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
Salt to taste
250gm white sesame seeds
oil to deep fry
Mix all ingredients except eggs, sesame seeds and oil. Add 1 tsp oil to the mix and marinate for 1 hour or overnight. Whisk eggs, coat the fillets with beaten eggs and roll in a bed of sesame seeds. Heat oil and deep-fry the fillets.
Grilled Portuguese chicken
1 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dried oregano leaves (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp green or red chilli, seeded and chopped finely
2 clove garlic, crushed
1 whole chicken (approx. 1 kg)
Combine the juice, oil, chilli powder, oreganos, salt, garlic and chicken in a large bowl. Mix well. Preferably marinate the chicken overnight. Cook chicken in medium heat in the oven till browned on both sides and cooked thoroughly. Serve it with some homemade tomato chutney.
Mutton devil fry
½ kg mutton
12 flakes of garlic
5cm piece ginger
5cm piece cinnamon
3 large tomatoes, chopped
4 tsp plums or aloo bukhara
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3 onions chopped
2 tbsp vinegar
Salt to taste
3 cups of water
Blend garlic, ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, tomatoes and plums to a paste. Heat ghee and fry onions till brown. Add mutton, vinegar and salt to taste. Mix well in medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add water. Cook on low heat till meat is done. Gravy will be thick.
Special thanks to Samina Quasem for arranging the photo shoot.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed