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Spirit of sacrifice

There are certain things that one must keep in mind while sacrificing cattle or goats on Eid ul Adha. It is neither their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is the sincere righteousness on our part that reaches Him. Thus, it is the spirit of the sacrifice that needs to be upheld. That is paramount.

It is not always possible to purchase a cow way before 10 of Dhul-Hijjah but irrespective of the duration, the cattle is under our supervision and the following should be taken care of:

Cattle should be kept in a safe and clean environment and the animals should be handled in a humane and considerate manner. One should avoid stress to the animals by means of poking, prodding, chasing, etc.

Animals being prepared for slaughter should not even see the knife nor other animals being slaughtered or the slaughtered carcasses; the knife should be large enough and as sharp as possible to ensure quick death. Swift cuts of the major blood vessels of the neck should be done with the animals properly restrained before slaughter.

Novice slaughterers should be guided by experienced ones.

The animals should be allowed to bleed out, allowing the legs and the body to kick and move so as to allow all the blood to drain and only removed for skinning and cleaning once it is completely dead (4 minutes minimum). This should be done out of view of other animals, and all blood washed away and carcasses removed before the next animals is brought to be slaughtered.

And lastly, the spiritual significance and welfare aspects of the Qurbani should be respected and explained. It is not a spectator event with video-clips and pictures taken. Children should not be forced to watch.

-- LS Desk

Gourmet Eid

Having grown up with the tradition, it does not seem as rare an occasion as it really should. Seen through a modern lens it really is quite an oddity, but more than that it is opportunity if seen through a gastronomic lens -- just go with the metaphor, stretched and incongruous though it may seem.

Let us break the occasion down. Financially fortunate families all over this colourful, river-soaked land of ours will, come Eid day, have a cow to themselves, or more to the point -- and no offense meant here to the finer sensitivities -- a beef-mobile to consume as they wish.

“I haven't yet seen an Eid in Dhaka, I am very eager to experience the occasion,” said Neil Malone, an Australian in Dhaka, but more relevant to purpose, a butcher by profession and Chief Operating Officer at one of the city's finest butcher shops, White Hen Gourmet Butcher's Shop in Banani. The shop caused a ripple among Dhaka's meat lovers when it opened earlier this year as it was a Western food store dedicated fully to selling the finest cuts of meat.

Shops like these, and supermarket butcher sections have opened up a new way of eating meat beyond the traditional -- various forms of curry and kebab. So as the joyous occasion of Eid ul Adha dawns, the time is ripe to look beyond tried and tested tradition and do something new with all that meat lying around.

To provide a helping hand in that direction, Star Lifestyle picked Malone's brain to unearth some new ideas for Eid cuisine, and more importantly, the right way to go about it.

Post slaughter and quartering, the first dish that arrives on the plate is usually liver curry. Malone endorses that tradition but it's another part of the cow that he would make a beeline for if he were in charge on Eid day.

“The tenderloin, down the back of the spine -- oh, it's very nice. That would be the first piece I would go after,” the gourmet butcher said. “You can use the liver. In the western world we slice the liver up and we prepare it with mushrooms and onions and gravy. Liver is good for you because it's full of iron as are the kidneys.

“Then with the main cuts from the beef, you get the rump, the T-bone, sirloin, blade, top side, the front leg and the back leg. You also get what we call the shin beef, which is beautiful meat for casseroling.”

But before getting too ahead of ourselves, the most important aspect of your alternate Eid cuisine, if you so wish to go down that path this year, is having an experienced butcher or koshai to implement these ideas. If it is steaks you want out of the cow this year, make sure that the koshai you trust your meat with is a good one. Malone has a few tips that may help if you fancy a bit of backseat butchering.

“It's almost like being a surgeon, finding the seams and getting the right cuts and when you do that it comes apart like a jigsaw, but if you are inexperienced there will be a lot of wastage,” explained Malone. “Your butcher has to know where the portions are because you can cut through them and have a terrible steak. You cut up the wrong part or in the wrong way, then the steak might be very chewy.

“The best steaks are from the rump and the back leg. Or from the forequarters, you get the rib-eye from there.”

Koshais tend to hack into the meat as they want to maximise their earnings by servicing as many households as quickly as possible. So if you want good cuts, be prepared to provide extra incentive in the form of more money, and supervise the activity.

Moving on from cuts, this year's Eid will probably be the last, for a while at least, with the weather a little chilly in the evening. So there could be few things better than enjoying Eid evening out of doors, whether on the roof of your apartment building or in the backyard, with family and friends and the delicious prospect of meat being barbecued just right. But for that to happen, the cooking and the marinating need to be spot on.

“What I normally do with a steak for barbecue is not marinate it too much and lose the taste. What I do is make my own marinade,” revealed Malone. “Say you make 200 milligrams comprising 100 milligrams each of barbecue sauce and Worcestershire sauce and then just brush it on. If you soak the meat in the marinade for too long you take away the flavour of the meat and all you taste is the marinade.

“I tend to use the marinade as an enhancer, not to change the flavour of the steak too much. Sometimes the easiest little bit of marinade is to brush a bit of Worcestershire sauce and garnish with black pepper and salt. Also, if you have too much marinade it will burn the meat on the grill, and you don't want that burnt taste.”

“With a barbecue steak the technique is really in the cooking. You should only ever turn the steak once. Put the steak on the grill on one side and when the juice comes up to the top you flip it over and cook till the juice comes back up again. That's for medium steak. If you want well done, you just cook it till the juice disappears. Most of the technique in cooking a steak involves not overcooking it, not turning the heat up too high.”

When barbecuing, Malone is also a fan of beef kebabs, but it's a bit different from how he does steaks.

“I like to use the skewers and I marinate the kebabs a bit longer. But I never marinate anything longer than 24 hours, because you still want the flavour of the meat there. The part of the cow for the kebabs would be any part of the top side, the trim is good and sometimes you can hand-tenderise it.

“Let it soak in the marinade for a while. Then put it on the skewer. I stick a piece of meat, a piece of pineapple, mushroom, then capsicum and then another piece of meat. It makes it colourful but it also tastes great. It is also important to periodically brush the marinade on so that the meat does not dry up in the grill's heat.”

While expounding on the western preparation of beef, Malone, who has been in Dhaka for a year, is quick to point out that he has fallen in love with the local cuisine. “I quite enjoy the food here, great food. When I go back to Australia and eat the food it tastes bland because I am used to the spices and the marinade here,” he said with a smile.

We all have our secret recipes and marinades, and as Malone himself says, cooking is a creative art. There are many ways to skin a cat, or a cow for that matter. As long as your butcher knows the portions and takes care to cut along the seams, you have a world of options to choose from to dictate how that meat arrives on your dinner plate, your casserole dish or the barbecue grill.

We can and will still enjoy the age-old favourites, but there can be great benefits to the taste buds if you just stray off the beaten track for a bit. Now is the time when you can afford to do so. There is enough to go around and it is a three-day celebration. Happy Eid!

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Neil Malone and White Hen Butcher's Shop for providing the location for the shoot.


Beef special

By Asma Aziz

Tasalli kabab
1 kg minced beef
½ cup oil
1 cup sliced onion
2 sticks cinnamon
6 pods cardamom
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup (freshly roasted and powdered) cumin powder
¼ cup tamarind pulp
10 to 15 green chilies
Salt to taste

Fry the onions in oil until brown. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, and ¼ cup of water, and fry till the oil separates. Add the minced beef and salt, and mix well. Add a cup of water, cover, and cook on low heat till the meat is tender. Add the tamarind pulp, green chillies and cumin powder. Stir constantly until the oil separates from the meat.

Smoked handi kabab
1 kg beef, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp chilli powder
4 sticks cinnamon
6 pods cardamom
8 clove
½ tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste
1 cup yoghurt
½ cup oil
1½ cups onion, sliced
2 tbsp ghee
1 piece (about 1” round) charcoal Method

In a bowl, thoroughly mix beef with spices from ginger with salt and yoghurt, and put aside. Fry onions in oil until brown. Take the fried onions out of the oil, crush, and put aside. In the same oil, add the beef and a cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, then continue cooking over low heat until the beef is tender. Mix in fried onions. Cover and continue cooking over low heat until the oil settles on top. Remove from heat.

Put ghee in a small stainless steel bowl, and place the bowl in the pan (over the kebab). Light the charcoal by holding it over a fire with tongs. When the charcoal becomes red hot, place it in the ghee, and quickly cover the pan. Make sure the smoke does not escape. Leave the pan covered at least for half an hour.

Salt beef
2½ kg beef, cut from the breast or lower chest, with excess fat trimmed
4 litres water
620g salt
350g brown sugar
1 tbsp crushed peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp garam masala
4 bay leaves
1 garlic, cut in half

Boil all the ingredients except the beef and garlic in the water for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the brine to cool down. Put the beef and garlic in a plastic container, and pour in the brine. Place a heavy object on top of the beef to keep it fully submerged. Tightly seal the container and keep it in the fridge for 5 days for a lighter and less salty taste or up to 2 weeks for a fully rounded flavour.

Turn the meat around once each day and keep it submerged in the brine in the fridge. Wash the meat thoroughly with cold water. Put it in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any impurities that float to the top. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours until very tender, topping it up with water when necessary. When it is cooked, remove from water. Salt beef can be served hot or cold. To serve hot, allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing. To serve cold, keep it in the fridge overnight.

Irish lamb stew
1 kg lamb, cut into small pieces
Salt to taste
½ tsp pepper powder
50g flour
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 litre chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
500g carrots, diced
3 potatoes, diced
2 large onions, cut into bite-size pieces
2 bay leaves (tejpata)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp thyme or oregano (dry)

Toss the lamb with salt, pepper and flour in a bowl until coated evenly. In a deep pan, sauté the lamb in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and chopped onions and continue stirring until lamb is brown and garlic and onion are tender.

Add chicken stock and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. Add carrots, potatoes, onions, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Cover and let simmer until vegetables are tender. It is best to refrigerate the stew overnight and remove the fat. Reheat the next day for eating. Serve with salad and crusty roll for a delicious meal.


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