Tuesday, the 29th of July will be celebrated as Eid-ul-Fitr in India and its neighbouring countries. It marks the completion of the holy month of Ramadan; a month of fasting and forgiveness, of faith and sacrifice, and of submission and worship. Ramadan is the 9th month of the lunar calendar. Muslims all over the world fast for a whole month seeking for forgiveness of the Lord, peace of mind, heart and soul. It’s a way of cleaning and purifying one’s body and soul. At the end of the month, they celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr as a day of thanksgiving to Allah (Azza Wa Jal) for giving them the opportunity to benefit from this blessed month and gain the mercy, forgiveness and salvation from the Lord. It is celebrated by way of congregational prayer, sermons, giving out Eidi and eating and sharing sweets made with dates and dry fruits.
For most people other than Muslims, Eid is the time of celebration and feasting. Special delicacies are prepared and friends and family get together to enjoy a grand meal. Some of the popular delicacies are the sheer khurma, seviyaan, phirni, malpua, and halwas made from carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squashes. I know you want the recipes, so here are some:
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This a royal drink made of milk and dry fruits flavoured with saffron.
1 litre milk (preferably whole milk)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup almonds
1 cup pistachios
2-3 tablespoons pure ghee
1 small box of saffron/ alternatively 2-3 pinches of saffron
Method: Soak the almonds and pistachios overnight then peel them and slice them into thin, long strips. Spread them on a plate and let it air dry. Once dried, roast them in ghee over low heat in a non-stick pan. Make sure they don’t turn red; you just want them to be a little off-white and crisp. Next, bring the milk to a boil and add 1 cup sugar in it. Check if it suits your tastebuds, if not you may adjust the sugar as per taste. Keep boiling the milk until it thickens and reduces by 1/3rd. Now add the nuts and keep stirring all the while. Finally, flavour the milk with the saffron mixed in a tablespoon of water. Your sheer khurma is ready!
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This is a thick pudding made of broken rice which is so thick in consistency that if you spread it on a plate or pour it in a bowl, it takes the shape of the vessel as it cools down. Phirni is served chilled, garnished with dry fruits.
1 cup broken rice
1 litre whole milk
1 cup almond milk
1 cup sugar ground to a powder or as per taste
½ a teaspoon cardamom powder
1 cup mixed dry fruits, finely sliced
2-3 pinches of saffron
Method: Wash the broken rice thoroughly and drain it on a clean cloth. Spread the washed rice on another clean cloth and let it dry completely. Once dried, grind the rice coarsely in a blender (traditionally it is done on the grinding stone), so it isn’t very smooth. In a deep, heavy-bottom vessel, boil the whole milk on low flame. After the first boil, add the almond milk, cardamom powder, and the rice paste and keep stirring constantly to avoid burning. Keep stirring on low flame until the milk reduces by half and the rice is done al dente. Finally, add the sugar and dry fruits and cook until you obtain the desired consistency. Ideally, it needs to be a custard-like mixture. When still hot, pour the phirni in bowls or deep plates as you may like and garnish immediately with saffron and dry fruits. Let it cool in the bowl itself and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.