The Eid Bytes!

The Islamic food-filled holiday Eid al-Adha, also known as the “Festival (or Feast) of

Sacrifice”, coincides with the new moon to mark Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice

his son, Ishmael, as an act of devotion, and unquestionable submission, to God.

Muslims around the world began celebrating the Greater Eid, which fell on

September 11 th or 12 th this year, respectively, with delectable dishes that not only

vary by country, but also by individual communities and families.

Local differences aside, the holiday is centered on iron-packed meat—cow, goat,

lamb, and/or camel, depending on the local terrain. However, the livestock of choice

should be sacrificed using the same method: after placing the animal on its side with

its head facing toward Mecca and reciting “Bismillah Allahu-Akbar” (In the name of

God, God is great), the butcher slits the animal’s neck with one quick swipe, cutting

the large arteries to ensure minimal pain and a quick death, and then allows the

blood to spill at his feet.


Next up: a barbeque that gives the fourth of July a run for its meaty money starts off

the annual meal for many. A variety of kebobs, some on skewers, others made with

ground meat, and tender pieces of liver and kidneys tend to be served first during

the feast.


In the UAE, the dishes are influenced by countries across the Middle East, where

sheep—or their younger counterpart, lamb—reigns as the meat of choice. But, in

2016, livestock can be hard to organize, so residents can be found hunting at

supermarkets and butcher shops, post sacrifice. In addition, cooking an entire

animal—head to tail, ensuring zero-waste—can be daunting and unpractical.

Therefore, Emirati, Saudi, and Yemini restaurants take special orders for the


Toasted pine nuts and almonds on saffron flavored rice is a regional favourite, as is

tabbouleh made with fresh parsley and bulgur (partially-cooked, dried wheat).

Iranian-spiced lamb shanks, za’atar covered chickpeas, multiple types of kibbeh

(fried, baked, or raw), and Egyptian fattoush (a salad made with fried pita bread)

are all Eid options. Eggplant is a staple ingredient: from baba ganoush to the

multiple recipes that including lamb and tomato sauce. Kabsa—a dish originally

from Yemen, but eaten in several Gulf countries (sometimes called makbus)—is

made with layers of long grain rice, meat, and a spice mix often containing

cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried lime powder, cumin, and saffron, but recipes

are specific to each chef.


In many areas of Pakistan, the holiday has earned the name Bakra Eid, which

translates to goat in Urdu (not to be confused with the Arabic word Baqarah,

meaning cow), reflecting the popularity of goat for the occasion. Beef places second.

You’ll often find nihari—a slow cooked curry, made with shank meat, and hearty

chunks of bone—in the north of Pakistan and surrounding countries, while

haleem—boneless meat with wheat, lentils, and barley—is traditional for families

from the southern areas of South Asia. The rice-based dish that you’ll find in the

region is a brightly colored biryani.


No matter where you celebrate Eid al-Adha, you can be sure to expect a carnivore’s

delight. But, while you’re busy digesting platefuls of savory meat, make sure you’ve

left room for dessert. Eid in the Indian Subcontinent calls for kheer (rice pudding),

kulfi (a cousin of ice cream), and deep-fried, bright orange jalebi (also popular

throughout north and east Africa), while dates, honey, pomegranate molasses and

filo dough fill plates from the Levant to Dubai!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s