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Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is celebrated by Muslims all over the world. After 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting and solemn self-reflection, Eid brings the faithful together to show gratitude for what they have and to share their abundance—with family, friends and those less fortunate.
And as with many festive traditions, food lies at the heart of the celebrations. Eid feasts are generally associated with biryani and sheer khurma—but there is so much more. Indulgent meals are laid out in homes everywhere, with platters of sweet and savoury dishes that are intrinsic to each community—two of which we explore here.
The Bohri Kitchen Diaries
The Bohris are known for their communal 'thaals', and The Bohri Kitchen, founded by mother-son duo Munaf and Nafisa Kapadia, has been popularising their cuisine since they launched a few years ago. (Nafisa serves as head chef, while Munaf's designation is Chief Eating Officer.)
What started as a home-dining experience has now evolved into a delivery service across Mumbai, serving up authentic Bohri food, including zam zam pulavo, mutton paya and their popular mutton samosas—and this year, they've launched a special Eid menu.
Munaf says that growing up, Eid was always a grand affair—a day when the entire family would come together (siblings, cousins, in-laws, even his sister's in-laws). The invitation would extend to as many people as they could fit into their home. "It's the time of year when Mom cooks with her earlier motivation—her family—and Dad always wakes up at 5 am a day before to source the best ingredients for our feast."
Eid this year is particularly special for Munaf and the team at The Bohri Kitchen because they've just relaunched in a new avatar. Last year, when the pandemic hit, the business was in a phase of rapid expansion—they had four kitchens, a QSR outlet and were scaling up. The extended lockdown proved to be a massive blow to their business, with Munaf almost ready to shut shop.
But his wife Zahabia and operations head Kadir said they should go back to their roots and do what they do best—serve up home-style Bohri food—but have it delivered to customers’ homes. So, they reopened in 2021 and have managed to get back on their feet in just three months, right in time for Eid.
They have a special menu of Iftaar platters, sweets, and savouries, orders for which need to be placed three days in advance. (The marination time for dishes like raan is 48 hours, so you must order ahead.)
Here, Munaf shares his family recipe for mutton khichra, the Bohri version of haleem, a silky stew made with ground meat, lentils, broken wheat and spices. Says Munaf, "In my opinion, mutton khichra is far superior to haleem—it's milder and more flavourful, with a different proportion of pulses. Our version is served with slivers of ginger, ghee, birista (fried onions) and is accompanied by an onion and imli kachumber, which provides a beautiful contrast to the rich stew."
The recipe requires some patience and coordination at the stove—but the result is well worth it!
Mutton Khichra Recipe
For the wheat
For the mutton
*For the green masala (prepare beforehand)
A Taste Of Karachi In The Capital
Delhi-based writer Maliha Khan straddles both sides of the border—originally from Karachi, she now calls the Indian capital her home. Maliha’s mother-in-law, the late author and culinary expert Sadia Dehlvi, specialised in the cuisine of her Punjabi Saudagaran community—so Maliha has been exposed to a variety of flavours on Eid and other occasions! (A self-taught cook, she is currently working on a book about the food and culture of Karachi.)
She says, "Growing up in Karachi, Eid was always the most festive affair and my favourite celebration of all. The Eid morning was somehow different and special from any other… we wore our new clothes and went to our relatives' homes one by one to wish them Eid Mubarak, and they came to ours. The elders would give us Eidi (money), and everyone would relish the delicious Eid spread in everyone's homes!"
One thing that stood out was that there would always be two different kinds of sawaiyan served (vermicelli pudding). The pandemic means Maliha can't travel to Karachi—but she's bringing a piece of her family to the table with her mother’s recipe for qemami sawaiyan. "Most people are familiar with sheer khurma, or the sawaiyan made with milk – but there is another kind of sawaiyan called qemami sawaiyan, with plenty of ghee and sugar."
Maliha says her mother's version is the best she's tasted because it's neither cloyingly sweet nor too rich. "Now that I have moved to Delhi, I make this sawaiyan every Eid to remind me of my mother who is in Karachi." Two things that she says one mustn't compromise on when making this dish are the dry fruits and nuts—she insists there must be lots on hand for garnishing!
Qemami Sawaiyan Recipe
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