Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 43, Tuesday, November 01, 2011



Eid ul Adha -- the festival of eating meat


During the late 80s, when my sister and I were living in Dhaka, we always went to our grandparents' house to celebrate both the Eid festivals. Eid ul Adha was particularly fun as our father and uncle made a huge deal out of buying cows and goats from the cattle market near Savar.

We would wait all day and they would be back by sunset with the animals and their feed. There was this one time where they had brought three cows and four goats. I think the entire Ameen family and a few other families celebrated Eid together that year. But I can tell you before or after we never brought so many cows and goats.

Our enjoyment was a little different. With my sister and cousins I used to feed the animals. They were brought approximately three days prior to the “Qurbani” and we would feed them grass and leaves (for the goats).

Today, I truly understand the value of “grass-fed beef.” In North America it is a rare commodity. Factory farming, animal fattening using growth hormones and antibiotics, treating animals poorly and feeding them corn and waste products are quite common.

Therefore, our red meat consumption has significantly reduced. We did find a small shop where we purchase our grass-fed, halal meat but the price is high. We are willing to pay the price now than later in hospital bills. We cherish the meat we purchase and consume it wisely. This also keeps us in check both "health and wealth" wise. Right quality with right quantity is what we believe in.

Nutritionally speaking, “Red Meat” is the most controversial topic both in the Eastern and Western world. Due to the high protein content meat is a “building” food and the fat content of the meat makes it a “warming” food. Appropriate amounts of meat consumed will energise and build strength in us. In excess this is an acid forming food -- a food that makes the body's pH acidic, which will cause clogged vessels and organs, weight gain, make the muscles slack and the joints stiff.

In my opinion, if an individual avoids processed, deep fried, dehydrated and frozen ready-made foods and chooses to eat meat s/he is eating in proper balance. I believe we are entitled to enjoy meat for its protein, fat and taste factor, which is increased by using various spices.

Meats supply a good mixture of amino acids to human tissues. Eating no more than 4-5 oz. of meat in a meal with high amount of enzyme containing vegetables will balance out the body's pH. Another trick is eating papaya before or after the meal that has meat. Papaya and pineapple are high in “digestive enzymes.”

The different cuts range in texture and tenderness, as well as fat content, making beef a very versatile food. Lean beef provides a very good source of protein and vitamin B12. It contains a good source of selenium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and B vitamins. The meat has iron that is easily absorbed by us. If possible, look for lean beef from cows that have been grass-fed.

It is also advised to eat the leaner cuts of the meats if you are eating meat regularly. The leanest cuts of beef are taken from the back leg bone, called the round bone. These include eye of round, top round, and bottom round. These cuts are the leanest (most muscular) because the cow uses its back legs as its primary means of movement, therefore it is relatively high muscle and low fat. The underbelly, including rib, ribeye, spare rib, and brisket, is the site of the fattiest cuts.

Beef marrow contains monounsaturated fat and other minerals such as iron, phosphorus, Vitamin A, thiamine and niacin. Making a broth out of bone will be most nourishing as it is rich in minerals. A well made bone broth will give you calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and sulphate. In order to pull these precious minerals, add apple cider vinegar during the cooking process.

The beef bone also contains collagen that has two special amino acids proline and glycine. Collagen can make your skin radiant, supple, support the smoothness of the skin and reduce cellulite.

Goat meat (mutton):
Goat meat is also full of protein and fats. However the meat is much leaner than beef. Mutton has a good amount of the B Vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. This meat has a stronger smell than lamb and is less tender. Nutrients from the mutton improve our skin, nail and hair. It also supports the immune health, development, muscle and joint health. Bone broth made from goat's meat also is great for bone health.

Lamb is another good source of vitamin B12 and provides good amounts of the other B vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid and choline. It is also high in selenium and zinc. Vitamins B6, B12, folate and choline are especially important for healthy metabolism of homocysteine. High blood levels of homocysteine are a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Although one-third of the fat in lamb comes from saturated fat, lamb (especially when pasture fed) can be a significant source of omega-3 fat and monounsaturated fat. Both of these fats have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Traditionally in our culture we cook meat with a lot of aromatic spices. The spices not only increase flavour but also get rid of common bacteria in the meat. Dairy and meat should not be cooked together as it causes digestive disorders. However, during the festival, enjoy your meat. After lunch/dinner consider eating papaya or yoghurt. Yoghurt contains a lot of friendly bacteria that help digest food efficiently. A good digestive formula is fennel or mint tea.

Eid extravaganza

Eid for many in Dhaka, is a truly joyous occasion. Decades back, it meant new clothes and shining pairs of shoes -- some even put on the shoes long before Eid and walked merrily on beds, with them on, and even jumped on the same beds, in anticipation of food, fun and frolic. This was once narrated by an old buddy of mine, Rowshanweaving yarns about her contented childhood days. Some children get Eidis and gifts, and this applies to grown-ups too, and just hugs, cuddles and kisses, from friends and “kissing cousins”.

There was however, always a pre-Eid tussle about the budget for new clothes and the sacrificial goats or cow -- poor crying animals -- although decorated to the hilt like some odd bride in a strange mixed-up dream of animals. Why do they not take the poor bleating and mooing animal to the abattoirs, as they do in Saudi Arabia, say some, impatient with the vermilion “modern-art” type mess of blood on private lawns, backyards and even the public areas such as pavements and roadsides.

Some insist on having veggies and fish on the daythough prepared for a feast. Others have fish kebabs and “kofta” in protest of the tradition of having the sacrificial meat for lunch and after, with steaming dishes of vegetable “palau” and yummy, mouth-watering “paratha” with minced beef in them.

The traditional dishes of “firni” with layers of cream and filled with raisins, almonds and pistachio -- cooked in the Irani way are also enjoyed as is also done in “Nauroze”, with people of Persian origin, who have Omar Khayyam and Firdousi in mind. Trays laden with sweetmeats, like finger-licking “kalo jam”, “sandesh”, cream-laden “patishapta” and other items sandwiched with delicious, irresistible cream are other items for both young and old.

Those who are on a perpetual diet, or happen to be diabetic, rely on the sheesh kebas, “chicken- jalfrezy” and savoury items made from chick peas and boiled and sliced eggs. Vegetable “samosas”, fried in light, fresh corn-oil are also a must.

Some who can afford it, and are careful of the heart, go in for olive oil frying. Others delight in serving their guests with Christmas cake type gateaux, filled with dried fruit, which can be easily sliced and had. The Australian recipe for the cake is one which one may rely onor made a beeline for the “Value Plus" shop in Dhanmondi, Road 5, and elsewhere, in Gulshan and Banani branches.

Meeting relations and friends are a part and parcel of Eid of Dhakiitesapart from the distribution of sacrificial meat among friends and some send a part of the meat to nearby orphanages, beggars and old servants.

This is also the custom with Muslims in the rest of the Subcontinent, in cities like Kolkata, Madras, Bombay and Hyderabad. Flaunting dazzling new clothes, like black netted “saris”, organza with appliqué work , “aabe-rawan", thin chiffon, good for draping with various types of “aanchals” and “cholis”, and other forms of silks, and satins. French knots, Lucknow stitches, satin stitches are decorations on the sari “palloo”, borders and the kameez. There are some dazzlers with flowers and other motifs done with fabric paints, as has been done on clothes sold at “Aarong” and “Shailpik”.

New and eye-caching accessories, as available at “Lifestyle”, Dhanmondi, Road 7 mare flaunted and paraded, as a part of the merriment, laughter and fun. The Casanovas and knights in shining armours in white, embroidered “sherwani” and “salim shahis” join the fruit punch drinking and gaiety.

By Fayza Haq


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