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Eid lunch - for the love of family and food

Eid lunch - for the love of family and food

by Sumayya Usmani 16 July 2015

Sumayya shares her memories of Eid lunch growing up in Pakistan, and some perfect recipes for celebrating the day itself, starting with Bavette shami kebabs, followed by a boldly flavoured Pakistani beef biryani and ending with a classic Eid dessert - Muzaffar Seviyan.

Sumayya Usmani is a cookbook author, writer and cookery teacher who specialises in Pakistani cuisine.

Eid will always remind me of my childhood and growing up in Pakistan. I have a clear sensory memory of awakening to aromas of cloves and cardamom wafting from the kitchen into my bedroom. This is a day that revolves around family togetherness and a celebration of food, after a month of abstinence and contemplation.

Though a global Muslim festival, Eid is celebrated differently in each country, highlighting the fact this is not just a religious day but a time to rejoice our culture and identity. But, the one unifying similarity is that Eid is a celebration of food, authentic flavour and family togetherness.

As a child I would eagerly await Eid, as children we would receive money called ‘Eiddee’ in tiny colourful envelopes from older family and friends and I would always look forward to collecting my ‘kings ransom’ from my father, who would promise me this only if I woke up early, changed into my pretty new clothes and glass bangles!

Food took central stage – from breakfast of seviyan, hot cardamom chai and jalebis (fried sweet sugar syrup doughnuts) and dahi baras (lentil fritters with yoghurt) made by my mother, followed by ‘elvensies’ of sheer khurma (hot sweet vermicelli saffron milk drink) at my Nani’s (maternal grandmother).

Before lunch we would distribute food from our homes to the needy, this is a big part of the Eid culture in Pakistan, feeding those who may not be able to afford it themselves. Our lunch would always be at my Dadi’s (paternal grandmothers), which always promised to be a lavish spread of biryani, shami kebabs, koftas, always ending with mithai (sweet meats) and her version of seviyan. A day of family visits, sitting together, being force feed an obscene amount of food, laughing and cherishing what is on our tables is how I would describe Eid in Pakistan.

To me, Eid is a moment of thankfulness – for the food we receive, for those who need is more than us and the loved ones in our lives. These recipes to me are the flavour of Eid lunch in Pakistan and ones I have adapted but still cook in the UK today.

 
 

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