Explore the many sumptuous dishes of the Middle East this Eid
A brief history lesson
Eid Al Adha falls on the 10th day of the Dhu Al Hijja, which is the final month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered to be a holy month and is when the Hajj takes place. Eid Al Adha translates as the Feast of the Sacrifice, and commemorates the time when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. God gave a sheep to Abraham at the last minute and his son was spared. During Eid, it is customary to sacrifice a sheep and divide it into 3 parts: 1 third for your family, 1 third for your neighbours and friends, with the final third for people in need. As charity is such a fundamental part of the Muslim faith a great deal of importance is placed on helping others at this time. Including the sharing of food.
As in all celebrations, food is a way of bringing families and friends together. And, with the strong flavours and spices of the Middle East, this really is a total experience. Roast lamb is core to any feast during Eid Al Adha. A show-stopping dish, simple, elegant and full of flavour. Some will choose not to add too many extra herbs and spices, just letting the strong, gamey flavour of the meat speak for itself. However, if you are looking for something a little more special you can add coriander or garlic. If you want to go for something with more punch, include some chillis to satisfy those spice addicts out there.
So, now you have your succulent, aromatic, meaty leg of lamb. What do you eat with it? There are countless accompaniments! Maybe you just want some potatoes, cooked in saffron and paprika, or how about little, crispy samosas packed with vegetables and spice. You could include cumin-spiced rice with a creamy mint yoghurt raita. Basically, Eid food can be as adventurous or homely as you want. Many restaurants in Dubai will offer buffets around this time. So don’t be shy and fill your plates!
Variety is the spice of life
Because Islam is widely spread it means that every country has their own specialty dish. Eid is the perfect opportunity to go out and broaden your palate.
Coming from North Africa is the tagine. Cooked in beautiful triangle shaped earthen ware pots, this dish is slow cooked over hours to ensure the meat is falling of the bone and the spices have had the time to seep into the rice and potatoes. Tagines allow for a cornucopia of ingredients, from lamb, beef to fish, even with additions of pomegranates and apricot. But spices are key in this dish, fresh coriander, spicy cayenne pepper, earthy turmeric and aromatic cardamom. We recommend ras el hanout, a North African spice mix, containing cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and black pepper. Your taste buds will be in flavour heaven!
From Lebanon, try mjaddarah a simple rice and lentil dish; sweet and earthy this is the perfect adjunct to any Eid feast; light with a fresh, yet subtle lemony tang. And, of course from South-East Asia, the ever popular biryani is always welcome at any party. Fundamentally combining rice and meat, this is a filling and satisfying main course. With the sweetness of apricots, dates, raisins; slow cooked to perfection. The Biryani is sure to be a winner on any table.
Simply put, Eid al Adha is a celebration to look forward to. Not only is it a time for reflection and charity but it is also a chance for families to come together and bond over scrumptious and wholesome food.