“So why don’t you chop the bigger meat ribs into smaller pieces now that they are tender enough and add some spring onions to it for tonight’s supper?” My husband helpingly added to already too-long-to-handle Eid list. I, of course had already prepared the ‘Sheer khurma’ vermicelli cooked in milk with nuts and coconut, an Eid must-have at our Eid breakfast on the day. For the meat portion; yes indeed you need to have protein as you have happily deprived yourself of such delights for the whole month of fasting – Ramadhan, I made ‘pasande’ which are flattened beef strips cooked in a gravy of onion, spices and yogurt. Adding to the list, I made chicken Korma, which is chicken pieces cooked in spiced sauce in yogurt. Now how can we do without starch, so then I made ‘Aloo tarkari’ potatoes in gravy with cumin seeds and coriander leaves. This cannot be served on its own as bread is part and parcel of our Eid breakfast. Now, this won’t be your usual Wonder whole wheat bread from Superstore, just around the corner. This is ‘puri’ a home made flat piece of bread deep fired in oil and served hot with the above mentioned list of items for breakfast. No matter how many dishes I make on the list, my list seems to keep growing.
This is how Muslims usually prepare food on the eve of Eid day, the yearly Muslim festival that celebrates the end of Ramadhan, the month of fasting. After a month of not eating between dawn and dusk, we tend to indulge in whatever food that comes our way during the day of Eid. In Regina, an estimated 5000 Muslims gathered at the Canada Place Building in Brandt Centre during last year’s Eid prayer. Eid day starts with a morning prayer around 8:30 am. After the congregation, we all exchange hugs and say ‘salam’ to everyone who crosses after path until we exit the door. By the time we reach home, its already 10:00am and like many other years, I find myself in a panic attack as my friends, that I usually host at home for an Eid brunch, start pulling their cars up on my drive way. Will I be able to serve warm ‘puris’? Will the ‘aloo tarkari’ be enough? Will the chicken pieces in Korma survive hungry Muslims? To be honest, I always lived to tell the tale. We have done it for six years and enjoy every bit of it. Adults rejoice for the day taking a day off work, wearing new clothes, adorning themselves with perfume and jewellery (mostly women do) and visiting friends and family. Children get gifts from their parents and close relatives. A celebration like this brings a piece of our culture and tradition to our otherwise normal Canadian lives. My friends and I are just like any other Canadian the rest of the days of the year; pulling through day by day in a 9 to 5 job, paying taxes, going camping , looking for summer sales, making snow angels and tobogganing in Winter, until Eid arrives. That day, we become harbours of adding diversity to the vibrant fabric of Canadian culture.
After the list of cooked meals, I subdivided a section of the paper to start another list: Pick up cake from Sobeys, pick up a bouquet for a friend we are visiting for a come-n-go lunch, get tea items ready for the brunch at 2:00, call my cousin who had a new baby, rebook hair appointment some day this week that I totally forgot I had on Sunday, call my parents and in-laws in Pakistan to wish them Eid Mubarak. Perhaps the last item on the list should be the first.
This year Eid is on Monday July 28. Rain or shine, summer or winter, either it’s a casual Monday or a slow weekend, it doesn’t matter. This is how our Eid day starts; with a to-do-list and we always manage to see the end of it (the list, I mean).