As the azan sounds on June 15 morning, families across southern India will prepare to say a prayer to mark the end of Ramadan. A new day will be born, a day on which Muslims can celebrate the sacrifices made by them during the holy month. A grand feast will be laid out, gifts and greetings will be exchanged and all will be well. Four individuals tell us what their routine on Eid will be like, thus showing us how all five states celebrate the auspicious day in their distinctive styles.
The beauty of Kerala it that there are no specific localities demarcated for people belonging to any one faith; “We all live in harmony,” says Sajad Sadiq, a freelancer residing in Thiruvananthapuram. “After our fast on each day during Ramzan, we distribute delicacies, especially sweets, to all our neighbours, irrespective of their religion.” Members of the Muslim League Party even host an Iftar feast for heads of other religions. On the eve of Eid, his family will get together and after prayers in the morning, they’ll dig into a scrumptious meal. “My favourite dishes are unnakaya, keema samo-sas and aleesa,” smiles Sajad.
“We start planning months ahead as to what to wear on Eid and since there are many women in my family, we try to coordinate our outfits,” is what Safra Kader, who runs Whisk: The Cake Kitch-en, has to say. The feast on most years consists of a fixed menu, with dishes like mutton paya, liver fry, adai and idiyappam being served for breakfast. “Of course, biriyani is served for lunch,” she says. When asked if she plans to bake anything this year, “I made mini cupcakes last year and am planning to gift assorted brownies to those who visit home this time as part of Eidi (gift given to youngsters by elders),” she says.
Though Zaibunnisa Ismail Makandar stays in Mumbai now, home is where her heart is. Hailing from a village near Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), she says Eid was always special to her. “All the families in our community would get together and make all the dishes from scratch, be it the masala for mutton biriyani or an array of snacks. But after my parents passed away, we stopped going there,” she says. She would love to go back and spend time with her relatives but her children prefer Mumbai. “Over here, we make lachcha parathas, pulav and chicken varieties for Eid and this is what they like.”
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
The preparations in Sara Khan’s home begin well in advance, says this food blogger, who began her career reviewing restaurants in Hyderabad. “My mother will hand over a list of the grocery items needed much ahead of the festival. On Eid, she will get up early at 4.00 am and begin the prepara-tions,” explains Sara. A sweet dish using vermicelli, the recipe of which has been passed on for generations in her family, is a must-have on this special day. “It is a custom that if a girl is married, her parents will send sewain (sheer khorma) to her home. My maternal grandmother sends this dish to my home every year,” she says.
(L-R) Rafi Babu, S Diya, Tasneem Ayub
Fresh stocks of ingredients line up the streets
Aatu Thotti Pulianthope
There are many localities in Chennai where one can procure fresh meat, but I feel the best for mutton is in Aatu Thotti, near Pulianthope. Nearly 5,000 goats are sacrificed here on the day before Eid; since so much meat is available, the prices are reasonable. Batcha bhai’s shop in Kilpauk and one on Spur Tank Road, Egmore, are also known to have quality meat.
- Rafi Babu, entrepreneur
Big Mosque Triplicane
While my father’s ancestors can be traced back to Pakistan, my mother is from Kozhikode, Kerala. I was born and brought up in Chennai, but still cook a lot of Malayali dishes. A personal favourite is a sweet made from rumani semiya — hordes of vendors, who make this at home, sell it on the streets around the Big Mosque in Triplicane.
- Tasneem Ayub, home chef
Fakir Sahib St. Zam Bazar
I’m not too used to making dishes at home from scratch but I know exactly where to pick up readymade sweets from. On the main road, opposite the mosque, are a few shops that sell the best gulab jamuns and freshest dum ka rot (Basha halwa’s speciality) I’ve ever eaten. While I’m shop-ping there, I also down a glass of thick lassi topped with creamy malai and sprinkled sugar!
- S Diya, homemaker
Shopper testing the fine rumani semiya in Triplicane
1 kg rice | 1 kg mutton | 300 ml refined oil | 100 gm ground garlic | 100 gm ground ginger | 30 gm red chilli powder | 4-5 clove | 3 sticks of cinnamon | 3 pods of elaichi |100 gm onion | 100 gm toma-to | 100 gm curd | ½ cup mint leaves | ½ cup coriander leaves chopped | 2 lemons | To taste salt
- Heat oil in a vessel. Sprinkle curd. Add to it clove, cinnamon and elaichi. Sauté the garlic paste first and then the ground ginger. Both garlic and ginger are never ground together.
- Now, add the mutton along with salt to the other ingredients in the vessel. Onion must be added next and then tomato. Stir everything together for just a minute.
- Add coriander and mint leaves to the mixture along with the remaining curd. Add a litre and a half of water and keep the vessel closed over a low flame.
- Meanwhile, partly boil the rice, filter the water and keep the rice aside.
- When the mutton is cooked, add the rice to it. Close the vessel tight and switch off the stove.
4 nendrapazham (ripe banana) | Oil for deep-frying | 1 tbsp ghee | 2 cups grated coconut | ½ cup sugar | ½ tsp cardamom powder | 2 tbsp cashew nuts | 2 tbsp raisins or kishmish
- Cut the banana in half. Place it in steamer and steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the banana cool a bit, then peel off the skin and mash it well. Divide it into equal portion and set aside.
- In a pan, melt ghee, add in cashews and raisin/kishmish and fry for a min. Add coconut and toss well. Add in sugar and cardamom powder. Mix well till the sugar start to melts. Remove it to a bowl and let it cool a bit.
- Take one portion of the banana dough, flatten it and spoon some coconut filling in, cover it well and seal it. Deep fry it in oil till golden. Drain onto tissue paper.
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour | 1/2 cup sugar | 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds | 1 teaspoon oil | 2 table-spoon yogurt | Approx. 3 tablespoons water | Oil to fry
- Mix whole-wheat flour, yogurt, sugar, fennel seeds, and oil, add water slowly as needed to make the thick consistency batter.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat.
- The frying pan should have about one inch of oil. (To check if the oil is ready, put one drop of batter in oil. The batter should come up but not change colour right away).
- Slowly drop 1 teaspoon of batter at a time in to the oil. Don’t over crowd the frying pan.
- Fry the gulgulas till golden brown on all sides, turning them occasionally. It will take 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the gulgulas and place over a paper towel so that the excess oil is absorbed.
Hyderabadi Sheer Khorma
½ kg thin vermicelli, roasted | 2 cups sugar | 2 litres milk | 250 gm evaporated milk (khoya) | Hand-ful of dried dates | 3 green cardamom pods | 200 gm pure ghee | 2 drops of orange food colouring (optional) | 50 gm of assorted cashewnuts, makhana, watermelon seeds, cucumber seeds, basil seeds and raisins
- Roast the dry fruits and seeds in 2 tbsp of ghee till they turn golden-brown. Likewise, roast the ma-khana separately also in ghee.
- Separately, soak the dates in water for a couple of hours
- In a big pan, pour in the milk, sugar and soaked dates and bring to boil. The colour will begin to change and reduce it by a little. Add the cardamom pods also.
- Stir in the evaporated milk and allow it to further reduce. Keep the flame on sim.
- (Optional) In a separate bowl, take two teaspoons of water, mix orange food colouring and add it to the milk. Bring it to boil and then add it to the milk.
- Continue to cook until the mixture thickens, but not too much.
- Turn off the flame and take the pan off the gas stove and keep it aside. Add the vermicelli and immediately cover it with a lit.
- After it cools a little bit, add in the roasted dry fruits, makhana and seeds.