Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 36, Tuesday, September 07, 2010



During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast at the end of which they celebrate a joyous three-day occasion called Eid-ul-Fitr on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar.

Before Eid day, each family donates a certain amount of food to the poor so that the latter are not left out of the celebrations. This donating of food is known as Sadaqah-al-Fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

On Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning at outdoor locations or mosques to say their prayers. Afterwards they usually hug and wish each other Eid Mubarak. The day is an occasion to visit family and friends and exchange gifts (children often get a small sum of money from the elders). The festivities continue for three days. In Bangladesh, the entire period is observed as an official holiday.

This is the time for having special food cooked at home - something out of the ordinary - to mark the occasion. It's usually a rich meal, high on sweets. The meals shared with one's loved ones during Eid-ul-Fitr are the high points of the day and given below is a possible menu for the big day.

Mint cold drink (Jhal jeera)
This drink, served to the guest at the very start of a rich meal in small glasses, is meant to perk up his appetite. Pudina (mint) and cumin are known to have digestive values.

Ingredients (Serves 12):
2 tbsps tamarind, seedless pulp
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsps pudina (mint) leaves
2 tsps sugar
2 tsps sea salt
1 tsp black salt

Soak the tamarind pulp in 1 litre water for 2 hours. Rub the pulp and dissolve it in the water. Strain and pour the tamarind juice into a jug. Heat a tawa (griddle) and dry roast cumin seeds and pepper. Transfer them to a mortar, and pound to a fine powder. Put mint, 1 cup tamarind juice, cumin-pepper powder, sugar and salt in a food processor and blend until sugar dissolves. Pass this blended spice-mixture through a fine sieve or muslin and discard any impurities. Pour the blended spice-mixture into the jug containing tamarind juice. Swirl vigorously to mix the contents thoroughly. Chill before serving.

Whole chicken roast (Morog mussallam)
Ingredients (Serves 12):
5 cardamoms, seeds only
10 cloves
1 large (2kg) chicken, de-skinned
1+1+1 tbsps ghee
1 tsp black pepper, pounded
½ tsp jaiphal (nutmeg) powder
1 tsp joittri (mace) powder
2½ tsps salt
2 tbsps onion, sliced
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsps garlic paste
250g chicken mince
1 apple, cubed
1 tbsp raisins, rinsed
2 tbsps pistachio, chopped
1 tbsp pudina (mint), chopped
6 boiled eggs, halved

Grind cardamom and cloves to a fine power. Set aside. Clean the chicken inside out and dry with a kitchen towel. Grease the chicken inside and out with 1 tbsp ghee. Sprinkle black pepper powder, nutmeg powder, mace powder and 2 tsps salt and keep the chicken aside, while you prepare the stuffing. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a korai (wok). Toss in cardamom-cloves powder and saute for a bit. Add the onions, saute until translucent. Add ginger and garlic paste and stir. Saute stirring vigorously until the flavours are released. Now add the mincemeat. Sprinkle ½ tsp salt. Stir-fry until they are ready. Take wok off the flame, and let the mincemeat cool to room temperature. Add apple, raisin, pistachio and pudina to the mincemeat and mix. Blend well. Stuff the chicken with this mincemeat and the eggs. Sew up the rear end. Grease a large casserole with 1 tbsp ghee and place the bird in the center. Take care that there's space between the bird and the sides of the casserole. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4 (moderate). Cover the casserole with a tight lid and bake for 90 minutes. Take out and let it stand for 10 minutes. Serve over a bed of pulao.

Mutton polau
Buy karolir ghosth (shanks) and cut into 5cm (2inch) segments.
Ingredients (Serves 12):
½ tsp black cumin seeds
½ tsp cubed
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp mace
3 cloves
½ cup+1 tsp ghee
6 onions, diced
2.5 kg meat pieces
750g tomatoes diced
boiling water
7 tsps salt
8 cardamom pods, gently cracked
10 dry red chillies
4 (2.5cm-long) cinnamon sticks
4 cups kalijira (fragrant rice), washed and drained
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup slivered almonds for garnish

Heat a tawa (griddle), and roast black cumin, cubeb, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, mace and cloves for a minute. Grind to a fine powder when done. Heat ½ cup ghee in a heavy pot, add onions and saute until they turn golden. Add the meat pieces and saute, until well browned on all sides. Add the tomatoes and enough boiling water to barely cover the meat. Simmer over medium flame for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Stir in salt, cardamom pods, red chillies, cinnamon and powdered spice mixture. Pour rice into the pot containing meat and stir with a wooden khunti (wooden spatula) to mix the two. Pour lemon juice with enough water to cover the rice and meat. The liquid should come up to 4 cm (1 ¾ inch) above the level of the rice and meat. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes until the rice is al dente. Saute the almonds in 1 tsp ghee until lightly browned. Serve polao hot, garnished with almonds.

Sweet vermicelli in saffron (Shemai)
The sweet dishes are made in large quantities and served from morning till evening to every visitor. They are also served as dessert after lunch.
Ingredients (Serves 12):
½ cup ghee
500g shemai (vermicelli)
3 cups water
¼ tsp saffron, soaked in ½ cup water
75g castor sugar
1 tbsp almond slivers

Heat ghee in a pot. Break the vermicelli into 10cm-long pieces and add to the pot. Cook until these turn dark in colour. Pour water in the pot, swirl to mix. Add saffron and sugar. Cook over high flame until all the water evaporates and the vermicelli gets a sheen on its surface. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle almonds on top. Serve at room temperature.

Milk sherbet
Ingredients (Serves 12):
2 tbsps almonds, blanched
2 tbsps pistachio
20 green cardamoms, seeds only
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp nutmeg, grated pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsps milk
2 litres chilled milk
120g sugar
1 bucket ice cubes

In a food processor, grind almonds, pistachios, cardamom seeds, turmeric powder, the nutmeg and saffron mixture and ¼ cup milk. Pulse to make a smooth paste. Pour 2 cups milk and sugar and pulse again until sugar dissolves. Pour the remaining milk into a jug, add the contents of the food processor passed through a fine strainer and mix well. Pour drink on ice cubes and serve.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food: Khazana



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