The childhood memories I have from this Eid are still very clear. I was raised in a joint family household so just imagine around a dozen people, including young boys, trying to get to the congregational Eid prayer on time. I miss that chaos and preparations and then the presence of various butchers sharpening their knives while all the kids surrounded them in anticipation. Us girls got ready and watched the qurbani, all the while helping our mothers in the kitchen. Laying the table, taking out the fancy china in the rooms filled with air soaked in the appetizing smell of butter and roasted nuts for the Sheer.
I could never know then that I will remember the patterns of those tablecloth years later.
I loved how my mother made a tradition of buying a new tablecloth, serving bowls and flowers for every Eid; a little something was always added to the decor of the drawing-room. I could never know then that I will remember the patterns of those tablecloth years later. But here I am, reminiscing about those Eids I spent with my mom in the kitchen and around the house getting ready for Eid. It has been more than a decade since I spent Eid with my family in that house that is still filled with tens of people whom I love.
If there was one thing I would change about it is the chaos that ensued after the qurbani; once the meat started coming in, the rest of the day was spent taking care of it. I saw my mom and aunts taking care of meat for hours. Consequently, the dinner wasn’t as festive as compared to the brunch because of the sheer exhaustion. It’s certainly not an easy feat, sorting, bagging and distributing of meat from literally a cow and a few goats.
Where we can sit around the table that is just a little fancy but more importantly simple yet satisfying.
As luck would have it, I got married and moved to America, where we can think of having a cow or a goat as a pet but slaughtering those animals on our driveway will surely result in having more than a few law enforcement agencies on our doorsteps. We do get meat from one goat and it isn’t much to handle. Though we do have the option of going to a farm and doing the qurbani there as a mother of two girls-younger, one of whom aspires to be a cowgirl and keep all kinds of animals-it’s not an easy task to make them watch the live sacrifice just yet.
What I do wish we had then and what I plan for now is a nice family dinner, where we can sit around the table that is just a little fancy but more importantly simple yet satisfying. What can be more satisfying than steaming hot, fragrant mutton biryani, followed by the ice-cold kulfi?
Here is a 3-course meal plan that includes mini Chapli Kebabs, Mutton Biryani for the main entrée, and Kulfi and Falooda for dessert.
For the mutton curry:
- 2 lbs mutton
- 1 cup whipped, yogurt
- 3 tablespoons ginger paste
- 3 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon red chili
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 cup oil
- 4 medium-sized, finely sliced, onions
- 6 Small cardamom
- ½ cup Dried plums
- 2 Lemons
- 6 Chopped tomatoes
For boiling the Rice:
- 3 cup Banaspati rice
- 5 to six quarts of water, for boiling rice.
- 4 Bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Black cumin
- 6 Black peppercorns
- 6 Cloves
- 8 to 10 mint leaves
- 2 generous pinches of saffron
For layering the biryani:
- 5 Green chilies
- 1 cup chopped, cilantro
- food color 1/4 tsp
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Salt to taste
- Wash mutton thoroughly, marinate it with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, red chili, coriander powder, 2 lemons juiced and salt and keep for 30 minutes. (You can marinate the night before, it will result in more tasteful meat).
- Heat oil in a large and wide pot, fry onions until golden brown, keep an eye on the pot, you do not want to over-fry.
- Remove ¼ of fried onions along with some oil and reserve it for layering.
- In the remaining oil, add marinated meat. Stir and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. then add chopped tomatoes and cook until almost all the moisture from tomatoes is gone.
- Next, add the tomatoes, cook on medium heat. Stir often and cook until tender. Set aside when done.
Boil the rice:
- In a large stockpot, put water to boil. Add cumin, saffron, bay leaves, peppercorns, chopped mint, and cloves to the water.
- Wash rice and soak in warm water. Drain soaked rice and add to the pot when the water comes to a roaring boil.
- Keep a close eye on the rice while it boils, it should be done in less than 10 minutes, you can check the rice’s doneness by taking a few kernels out and pressing between two fingers. It should be easy to mash but not super soft.
- Keep the strainer or colander ready so you can drain water as soon as the rice is done.
Time to layer:
- If you prefer to continue cooking on the stove then grab a large heavy-bottomed pot and pour 2 tablespoons of oil on the bottom and skip to the third step below.
- Preheat oven at 400ºF.
- Grease a large aluminum foil tray.
- First, put a layer of rice at the bottom of the tray using half of the rice.
- Scatter some cilantro and all of the green chilies, sprinkle garam masala and squeeze half a lemon.
- Now make a layer of mutton curry, spread it evenly over the rice layer. Use all of it.
- Then layer the remaining rice and put fried onion and oil on top.
- Mix yellow food color in lemon juice, from the second lemon half and add in it in several different spots by pouring a teaspoon every time.
- Cover the tray with foil completely, or if using a pot secure the sides carefully. Our goal is to lock the steam inside.
- The cooking time is around 40 mins. What we need is lots of steam, which is a sign that the biryani is done.
- After 40 minuteness, check by removing a little of foil/ the lid if steam comes up, remove biryani from the oven/stove.
- Keep it covered and serve hot with raita.
Mini Chapli Kebabs
- 2 lbs ground chicken.
- 2 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 2 teaspoon or to taste salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon cumin and whole round coriander, mixed, roasted, and ground.
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 green chili, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, deseeded and very finely chopped.
- 1 onion medium-sized, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Oil for frying.
- Mix all the ingredients, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Shallow fry, on high heat, for a minute and then flip and fry the other side for a minute. Then reduce the heat and fry until fully cooked.
- If not serving right away, place the kebabs in an oven-safe platter cover with aluminum foil and place it in the oven at 200º C until its time to serve.
Serving biryani without raita is a big no-no at my house. Good thing it’s easy enough to make if you forget to make it beforehand like I often do.
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (18 to 20 leaves)
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander ( 25 g )
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 dried red chili pepper
- 2 green chilies
Grind all the ingredients except yogurt to a fine paste, mix with yogurt, and serve with biryani.
Easy, and tasteful!
- 1/2 lbs tamarind
- 1/4 cup mint
- 1 teaspoon powdered red chili
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- Soak the tamarind in warm water for 2 hours.
- Squeeze out all the pulp and remove seeds and veins from it.
- Put the strained out the thick pulp in a blender, then add all the remaining ingredients and blend for 3 minutes.
- Taste and adjust the sweetness according to your taste.
- 1 can condensed milk
- 1-liter whole milk (4 cups)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup dry milk
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (optional)
- 1/3 cup almonds (powdered)
- 2 cardamoms finely, crushed. discard shell.
- 1/2 cup pistachios, crushed.
- Add all the above ingredients and cook on low heat for until 3/4 of the quantity is left.
- remove from the stove and let it cool completely.
- pour into kulfi mold or any small cups or containers.
- put the cups in the freezer for at least 6 hours.
- when frozen, take out the kulfis from the molds and serve after sprinkling the crushed pistachios or you may want to make falooda
- Milk – 2 cups, full fat
- Jelly – 1 packet prepared, cubed I used strawberry flavored
- Rose syrup – 5-6 tbsps (or rooh afza)
- Chia seeds – 1 tsp soak in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes
- Angel hair pasta – 1/2 cup ( use flooda noodles is available)
- Almonds – 1/4 cup, crushed
- Kulfi or Vanilla ice cream – 4 scoops
- Boil milk until 1 1/2 cup remains. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Add 2 tablespoons of rose syrup to the milk and mix. Keep it in the refrigerator once it comes to room temperature.
- Make jelly by following the instructions on the packet. Cut into small cubes when set.
- Cook pasta or falooda sev by following the instructions provided on the pack. Remember not to overcook, given the thickness of the pasta I used, it was done in 5 minutes. Once done drain and wash in cold water immediately to stop the cooking process.
- Soak chia seeds in water for 30 minutes.
To assemble falooda:
- Now you have all the ingredients ready, you just have to assemble. There is no hard and fast rule here, I sometimes even arrange all ingredients on the table and the guests make there own faloodas according to their taste and wishes.
- You add layer by layer of kulfi, milk, noodles, chia seeds jelly, some more jelly and some more kulfi perhaps, it depends on how much of what you would like.
- Garnish with crushed almonds and serve immediately.
- Don’t forget to stick in a spoon and a straw.
Just a few tips for you:
√ 3 lemons should yield 6 tablespoons of juice, so if you aren’t using fresh lemons and using lemon juice instead you know how much to use.
√ Try to use fresh ingredients.
√ The marinating of meat can be done a night or a day before. The meat absorbs salt and spices which give it a much better taste.
√ Practice Mis en place– “putting in place“- all the way, every day with every dish. Which means preparing, organizing ingredients and tools needed in cooking.
√ Keep your workspace clean by putting spice jars and utensils in their place once you are done using them.
√ Almonds, pistachios, saffron are optional ingredients, once you have the essential ingredients, you should try the recipe.
Most importantly, I hope you enjoy your Eid, while cooking, prepping, and taking care of everything else that needs to be taken care of. Do include your kids and family in preparations, they will love it if you make it seem fun and the chores will be done in very little time. Now I know that most of us are lucky enough to have domestic help but it is Eid after all and each of us deserves to celebrate, let us be courteous.
Have a happy and safe Eid,
Eid Mubarak from my family to yours!