Prayers and sermons resonating from Eidgahs and mosques in different parts of the world unfurl the celebrations of Eid al-Adha, aka Bakr-Eid. There’s an infectious flurry of excitement everywhere as Bakr-Eid is one of the most important Islamic festivals world over. Exchange of greetings, razzle-dazzle of outfits and finery, henna hues on firm and wrinkled palms and of course the salivating aromas wafting from household and public kitchens… The “Feast of Sacrifice” or qurbani, as it is called, is believed to have a distinct flavour as it commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command. Bakr-Eid is called the ‘salty Eid’ in contrast to the ‘sweet Eid’ or Eid-ul-Fitr; the delicacies on the platter range from barbecues to rice preparations made with meat.
When talking of the feast of sacrifice, can the ubiquitous biryani stay far behind?! The very mention of this cuisine makes even the staunchest of health freaks give up their calorie count at least for this one day! Now, that’s precisely why we take you on a culinary tour of the best savoury destinations for biryani and other delicacies of meat and rice.
1. Isfahan Beryouni of Iran
Did you know that this very Middle Eastern country is widely believed to be the land of origin of the all-time favourite with non-vegetarian food connoisseurs – the biryani? The word ‘biryani’ comes from the Persian term ‘berya,’ meaning roasted. Irani cuisine has been influenced by the surrounding Middle Eastern and West Asian region. Isfahan, the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, is world famous for its beryouni, a must try this Eid!
On your Platter: Isfahan Beryouni is baked mutton and lungs minced and then cooked with a pinch of cinnamon. Served with taftoon and other breads.
2. Meat & Rice Pilaf of Turkey
True to its geographical location (largely situated in Western Asia with smaller part in Southeast Europe), Turkey best exemplifies the transcontinental fusion of cultures. However, the Ottoman cuisine is a fine blend of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Balkan and Caucasian culinary traditions. Pilaf or pilav was once a special delicacy reserved only for Eid but has now become a regular feature in everyday meals.
On your Platter: Rice/cracked wheat/couscous or bulgur, meat/chicken, tomatoes and onions sautéd in butter separately; meat broth, additional ingredients to taste and water added to achieve desirable consistency. Served with beef or lamb kebabs and grilled patties.
3. Mandi of Yemen
This Arab country in the Southwest Asia boasts of a cuisine that’s very different from the rest of the Middle Eastern food. Ottoman and Mughlai influences lend a distinct appeal to the culinary spread of this region. Mandi is a popular delicacy in Yemen that has also travelled to Egypt and Jordan. In fact, you’ll be surprised by its presence in the Malabar region of Kerala, India. Now check this out: What makes mandi different from others is the meat cooked in the heat of burning dry wood in a taboon (tandoor), a special type of oven.
On your Platter: Rice, lamb or chicken meat and spices cooked in taboon. Raisins, peanuts or pine nuts added to taste.
4. Fattah of Egypt
Also known as the Cradle of Civilization, Egypt is an awe-inspiring cultural destination that amazes you in every sense of the word. Talking of its gastronomy, legumes, vegetables and pita bread play a major role in Egyptian cooking. The country’s culinary tradition is also influenced by the Eastern Mediterranean cooking. Fattah is a customary delicacy popularly prepared on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. No wonder, many a grand mom has bequeathed the perfect recipe of ‘Fattah’ meal to her succeeding generations!
On your Platter: Meat soup poured over baked and crushed pita bread. Rice layered over it along with meat chunks. Garnish with fried garlic and vinegar.
5. Biryanis of India
A potpourri of languages, ethnicity, religions and climatic conditions, India has a vast gastronomic variety that’s quite unique. With such enormous culinary diversity, it’s not easy for you to decide your pick of biryani. If the Lucknowi biryani or Awadhi biryani, popular in Lucknow and Delhi, is influenced by the Mughal cuisine, the Hyderabadi biryani is a melting pot of Arabic, Mughlai and Turkish influences. From the Malabari-styled Kerala biryani to community-specific Memoni and Sindhi Biryanis, you are spoilt for choice!
On your Platter: Varies from one style of Biryani to another. The variety of options for side dishes includes mirchi ka salan, onion raita, kebabs, boiled eggs.