Eid Food Preparations in Kashmir

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Muslims around the world will soon be celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, the Feast of breaking the Fast, in sha Allah. Eid in Arabic means ‘festivity’ and Fitr means ‘breaking the fast’ , also known in the Asian Subcontinent as Chotti Eid, it brings to an end the month long fasting of Ramadan. Everyone is excited about the sighting of the new moon, the chand raat, with eyes glued to the sky, waiting for the white threadlike crescent to come up on the blue sky! The celebrations commence with high enthusiasm once the new moon for Shawal is sighted and lasts for almost 2-3 days. The chand raat is bust with preparations and markets are thronged till late nights. Girls like to apply mehendi in beautiful designs over their hands, its a gala time!

Generally speaking, in our part of the world, the Eid festivities begin with consuming the dates after the Morning Prayer and then dressing up in new clothes to go for the Eid prayers. Perfumed and groomed in the eid outfit, men and children go to idgahs (large community grounds surrounding a masjid where congregational prayers are held). Exchanging the salaams and Eid Mubarak, hugging everyone around, a sense of oneness in all tranquility descends the ground.

Sweet Breakfast:

Traditionally, anything sweet is eaten for breakfast hence initiating the three day food festivity. Sheer Khurma or Seviyan (vermicelli pudding with milk or water and lots of nuts) is a popular sweet dish eaten for breakfast. It’s accompanied by saffron kehwa or doodh kehwa (milk kehwa) or normal sweet tea as per personal preferences.

Lately the trend has shifted from the traditional sweet dishes to modern bakery, with pastries, sweets and other confectioned biscuits and cookies taking over the younger generation. However, one thing that remains, is the over the top sweet things consumed for breakfast on Eid. Traditionally, small quantities of dates and other dry fruits are consumed throughout the day. A dry fruit serving tray or bowl is prepared and served to everyone who comes to visit.

Salty Nun Chai Break

After an early breakfast just before or after the eid prayers, 2-3 hours later, the Kashmiri favorite of Nun Chai is set on table. The delicious pink tea, salted to perfection accompanied with traditional bakar khaani (thin spiced flat/layered round puffed bread), the large round sheermaal and Namkeen Khulchai. Chicken patties and mutton patties are a favorite among children with nun chai.

Spicy Yummy Lunch Delight:

After the midday prayers are offered, the dastarkhwan (traditional tablecloth where food is placed and eaten) for lunch is set, a display of rich luxurious food preps, the same dishes that have been prepared for every eid, pertaining to self held family routines with some new dishes tried out on the special occasion of eid. Mostly what one finds common in every Kashmiri household is the tamatar kofta (tomato meatball gravy), the chicken korma, wazwan yakhni, methidhaniwal korma , dodde rasse or aab ghosht (sweet milk mutton preparation) ,rogan josh , badam korma (sweet almond chicken korma) and shami kebab (round flattened mutton kebabs).

Different from the routine, the plain white rice is replaced either by biryani or by pulao. A palate of chutneys is laid out; doon chyotte (walnut chutney), gandde chyotte (onion chutney), muchyotte (radish chutney) and tamatar chyotte (tomato dip) being the more popular ones. Cucumber raita, vegetable salad too grace the wide spread delicious dastarkhwan!

Traditionally, when joint families were more common in Kashmir, traamis (copper round eating platter) were used on Eid for eating together in groups of four. I just love the tradition, though being a nuclear family; on eid I always insist that we take out the traami, there nothing like eating together in a traami!

Chilled Dessert:

After taking on, I really don’t how many courses of meals in lunch (aka kashmiri style ;) ) surprisingly, there is always room left for the cold chilled dessert that comes next. Who doesn’t have room for phirni!! Loaded with nuts, the semolina pudding tastes best when served chilled. Rasgullas, gulab jamuns, the yummilicious ras malaii are the other options of dessert.

Taking rest after the lunch for some time, the family visits begin. Going out with friends, visiting relatives and matamaal (grandma’s house) continues till the evening and the next day as well. Children are given iddi (cash money as gift) by the elders in their family and relatives when they visit them.

Refreshing Afternoon Sherbets:

Being the peak of summer, the afternoon tea time of nun chai, has since last couple of years given way to ice cold sherbets, fruit shakes and other drinks. Chilled Lemon Sherbet, Almond Sherbet, Rooh Afza and the Ramadan favorite babribeol (basil seeds in milk) are the many options you can beat the summer heat on Eid with. I love my babribeol rooh afza cocktail!

Light Dinner:

Dinner is the same dishes prepared in lunch, which ain’t actually the leftovers, but as an integral part of Kashmiri food culture, on eid a generous amount of each dish is prepared and the food is served to guests as well as kept for the dinner.

This is the eid food preparations of Kashmir, as I have witnessed over the years. While traditions may vary but food is central to every celebration in the form of a luxurious feast! Collecting eidi/iddi as children was the most fun part. Who got more, who was ahead in the money race always excited us as children, like the most prized endeavor. Playing together with cousins, playing all sorts of outdoor games, water gun fights, and the cracker show at night, I miss the eid of my childhood.

Share with us your traditional eid dish. How do you celebrate your eid? Share the beautiful moments or memories you miss of your childhood eid days! Will love to hear from you :)

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