Is Eid Like Your Christmas?
Celebrating Eid (an Islamic religious festival) as a child was a very different experience to what it is now. At school my friends and teachers would ask "is it like YOUR Christmas?" Just for an easier life and wanting to fit in, I would say "yes it's just like Christmas". Remember this was the mid 70's and multiculturalism didn't really exist the way it does these days. However, today, I would like to politely retract that statement and say that, 'no - it's really not like Christmas"...Well unless you take into consideration that the whole family gets together for a huge festive meal; children are spoilt and over-indulge on overly-sugary treats; there is always a family drama (or is that just us Asians?) and there is always a ton of washing up to be done. Actually, thinking about it - it's not too dissimilar to any major religious festival, whether it's Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali or Eid. O.K perhaps I may have painted a rather generic picture but you can see where I am coming from.
I think that all religious festivals need to have two key ingredients (oops! cookery term pun definitely intended) FAMILY & FOOD!.. For me personally, Eid was always a vibrant, joyous occasion full of love, family gatherings and lots and lots of mum's delicious dishes. I remember as a child the feeling of excitement, as I knew that I would receive 'Eidee' - a gift of money, usually only given to children. The first person to give me Eidee was my dad. After he and my brothers came back from Eid prayers, the first thing he would do is give my mum a long loving hug and wish her 'Eid Mubarak' (Happy Eid). She would always cry but I now know they were tears of joy of having all her family together. Dad would then, turn by turn, give all us children a one pound note (yep, a paper pound note!). Again there would be more tears as dad would hug my big sister and I, saying that he was a blessed man to have the love of his wife and daughters.
As we get older our childhood memories seem to become all the more precious and nothing evokes
happy memories for me more that certain fragrances. The aromas of gently simmering cardamom milk and pilau rice wafting through the house and my dad's Old Spice aftershave as he hugged me on Eid morning. All these years later, I make a conscious effort to keep some of these Eid traditions alive for my own children and it all begins with simple breakfast of sweet milky cardamom vermicelli.
Even though, I like to cook traditional dishes that my mum used to make like Pilau Rice with Lamb Chops,
Samosas, Mutton Curry with Potatoes and Carrot Halva (Gajar Ka Halva, mum's signature dessert). I am now setting my own traditions like making my Kulfi Lollies, I first made these for my ITV show. They are my cheat version and they are so easy to make. Of course you will need ethnic ingredients like saffron, cardamom, mango pulp and a whole array of other ingredients, but luckily SaveCo Online stock everything and anything you need to make my recipes. Just browse their store, click and have it delivered to your door.
Now if someone asks me 'is Eid like your Christmas? I say "not really." Eid is a religious celebration to commemorate the completion of Hajj (the holy pilgrimage to Mecca) for Muslims all around the world and no, there isn't a large white-bearded man and a big belly stuck in our chimney, but there is a large black-bearded man with a full belly stuck in his chair after too many samosas, rice and carrot halva...That big guy was my dad ☺
Happy Eid dad, and Happy Eid to everyone,
To Download Parveen's Recipes For
- 1 x 400g tin condensed milk
- 1 tbsp rose water
- ½ tsp ground cardamom pinch of saffron, soaked in tbsp hot water (optional)
- 285ml double cream
- 30g pistachios, finely chopped
- 100ml tinned mango pulp
- Whip the cream in a bowl until it holds it shape.
- In a separate bowl beat the condensed milk, rose water, cardamon and saffron then fold in the cream gently.
- Divide the mixture in half adding the chopped pistachios to one half and the mango pulp into the other then stir each half individually.
- Oil the lolly moulds then pour in the mixtures then freeze for 5 hours or overnight to set.
- To serve - carefully remove the lollis from the moulds then sprinkle the rose water half with the edible rose petals and the pistachio half with the nibbed pistachios - enjoy!
PARVEEN’S TIP 1 - to give your pistachio lollies a crispy coating simply dust the inside of the moulds with chopped pistchios before adding the mixture.
PARVEEN’S TIP 2 - if you don’t have any lolly moulds simply use a small airtight container then scoop out like ice cream when ready to serve
GAJAR KA HALVA
- 800g carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 L whole milk
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 level tsp ground cardamom
- 150ml double cream
- 100g butter
- 50g mixed dried fruits (e.g. raisins/cranberries/sultanas)
- 50g pistachios, shelled and crushed vanilla ice cream to serve
- gold leaf to decorate (optional)
- Place the carrots, milk, sugar and cardamom into a large heavy based saucepan and place over a high heat. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer then cook for 30-40 minutes or until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the butter and cream to the pan, bring back to the boil then cook, over a high heat, for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down a little if it starts to stick.
- The liquid will have now evaporated completely and the carrots will have broken down and will have a deep orange colour. Add the dried fruits/berries then simmer on a low heat for a further 10 minutes or until the ‘butter’ begins to bubble around the edges and all of the liquid has cooked out.
- Spoon into serving bowls then top with large scoops of ice cream, sprinkle over the pistachios.
- Garnish with the gold leaf for that little bit of Bollywood - enjoy!
CHICKEN PILAU RICE
- 500g white basmati rice
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 2 black cardamom pods, crushed (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
- 2 green chillies, halved
- 2 tsp salt
- Wash the rice in clean cool water until the water runs clear, then soak for 30 minutes to remove any excess starch, this will help avoid sticking
- Heat the oil in a large pan then frying pan then add the onions. Fry until dark brown then add the cinnamon and cardamom.
- Add 20ml water then cover with a lid, turn the heat to low then leave for 1 minute.
- Remove lid then add the tomatoes, chillies, garam masala, cumin and salt. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down. Add a splash of water if it starts to stick.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pan, cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. The chicken will start to take on the colour of the onions.
- Add the chicken stock and water whilst bringing to a gentle simmer then add the rice and bring to a boil. Cover then simmer for 25 minutes - don’t be tempted to lift the lid though as the rice needs to ‘do it’s thing’!
- Serve topped with the fried onions alongside poppadoms and mango chutney then enjoy!
(for extra tips, watch my YouTube tutorial on Parveen The Spice Queen)