After a month of fasting and indulging in more acts of worship throughout Ramadan, Eid is literally a gift, as believed by Muslims, given to them by their Creator. Eid is a festival celebrated by billions of Muslims across the globe and people of other beliefs and religions join in too. In this coming together of faith and its celebration, food acts as an important link. Every culture has its own dishes for its special occasions. Similarly, Muslims have their sets of dishes that they prepare for Eid, different dishes, and food for different cultures. Muslims of India or of the whole subcontinent has a selection of various dishes for Eid which they rightfully boast about. I will try to share with you all some of my favorite dishes and a little of their history of origin and what the dish is usually made of.
Sheer Khurma: Although Sheer Khurma is a dessert no one really bats an eye eating it even before the meal especially at breakfast. Sheer Khurma is made up of two Persian words ‘Sheer’ and ‘Khurma’ as evident. Sheer means milk and Khurma means dates in Farsi. It’s a sweet dish made up of thickened milk, with dates and sugar which sweetens it. Vermicelli is added which gives it some substance and also some saffron or cardamom for flavor. This dish is a result of cultural infusion along the historic Silk Route. Persian in origin, it spread throughout India from Hyderabad. It really is the biryani of desserts.
Sewaiyan: What’s Eid without sewaiyan? The term sewaiy is by the consensus of Indian origin and was popularized through the Babri kitchen. While Sheer Khurma has a runny texture, sewaiyan is drier. Traditionally, sewaiyan is made with vermicelli, a very fine kind of spaghetti. It is cooked using a small amount of milk, dates, and adding a variety of dry fruits to make it a truly rich and aromatic dessert. Sewaiyan and Sheer Khurma is a customary Muslim festive breakfast or dessert dish and is served to family and friends to show hospitality and joy on this happy occasion.
Korma: Korma literally means braising the meat, and in korma, the meat is braised in oil, or traditionally in desi ghee, yogurt and spices, then simmered in water till tender. History tells us of a Central Asian dish called ashqorma/qorma/ kuverma, and it is this dish that was adapted by the Rajput cooks in Akbar’s kitchen and named Korma. However, what we eat today was perfected in the kitchens of the Awadhi Nawabs with a lot of Persian influence to adapt to Indian tastes. Korma can be made with meat such as mutton and chicken and there are instances of vegetable korma as well. Nonetheless, a meaty korma gravy is a must for Eid dastarkhwan.
What to eat the Korma with though? Laccha Paratha, duh!
Laccha Paratha: Laccha paratha is a popular flatbread in Indian cuisine. It is said to have originated in the Indian sub-continent during the 12th century. The term ‘Laccha’ means ‘ring’. This paratha is made of layers of dough resting upon each other with each layer looking like a ring. The dough is frequently folded over while adding ghee to it, and frying it on a pan or in tandoor. Laccha paratha looks very similar to Malabar parotta; a flatbread popular in Kerala which is softer and flakier.
There is however no rigidity when it comes to food and korma is consumed even with a rise dish such as pulao.
Biryani: Behold, for here comes the king!
When it comes to Muslim dastarkhwan of any special occasion biryani is literally the staple. Biryani is of uncountable types and to describe its history of origin would take a separate article in itself. In this article, we will talk about dum biryani. Dum biryani originated in Persia but there is also a theory that suggests that it came with the Arab traders who arrived in Kerala during the 7th century.
Initially, pulao had more royal connotations than biryani as biryani was prepared in bulk for soldiers. All rice, meat, spices, and everything put together in a degh and put to dum or to cook only slow heath with the vessel sealed with dough. Dum literally means slow and dum biryani is the one that is slowly cooked in a sealed container. Two of the most famous types of biryani in India is the Hyderabadi Biryani and the Aloo Biryani of Kolkata which was an outcome of Awadhi Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s exile to Kolkata.
Special mentions: Shahi Tukda, Pulao, Firni, Nihari and Haleem.