Showing posts with label eid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eid. Show all posts

Sep 12, 2016

Labaniah (Saudi Milk and Pistachio Candy)

Labaniah Saudi Milk and Pistachio Candy recipe easy simple no bake

From Saudi Arabia comes this sweet treat. Indian Muslims on Hajj brought milky mithai with them on their pilgrimage to Mecca. The Saudis liked the traditional Indian sweets so much they made their own version! Humble milk powder is transformed into delicious bite sized candies with the rich flavors of saffron, cardamom, and pistachios in this easy recipe.

The best milk powder ever!
(No, Nestle did not pay me to say this nor provide any products in this recipe.)
When I first tasted labaniah as a gift from a friend who had visited Saudi Arabia I thought they tasted a lot like doodh peda or kalakand (the traditional Indian fudge like milk sweets.)  A little research proved I was right! Labaniah was most certainly inspired by milk sweets brought Indian Hajj pilgrims to Mecca. I found the original recipe for this candy on Nestle's Saudi Arabian website. I thought it was a bit too sweet so I halved the sugar. I also wanted to make it a bit luxe and a tad more Indian so I added some Kashmiri saffron. The result was delicious! So simple to make but elegant enough to serve with afternoon tea, as dessert at a posh dinner party, or for Eid al-Adha tommorrow.

1 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 tsp lemon/nimbu juice
Seeds of 5 green cardamoms/elaichi, ground finely
8 to 10 strands of saffron (optional)
1/4 C pistachio nuts, chopped finely
4 C  full cream milk powder
Extra whole pistachios for garnishing

Here's what to do:
1) Place sugar, water, lemon juice, cardamom, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat low heat for 4 minutes or until it turns into a thick syrup. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2) Add 2 C of milk powder and chopped pistachios to cooled syrup and stir until well combined.

3) Gradually add the rest of the milk powder and stir until a stiff dough forms. Add more milk powder if necessary.

4) Form the dough into small smooth balls. (I used a tablespoon sized scoop as you can see in the photo to get uniform amounts of dough.) Garnish by pressing one whole shelled pistachio into each ball. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for up to one week.

Helpful Hints:
Labaniah tastes like doodh peda but has a slight chewy texture, not fudgy like kalakand or malai burfi. 

To make the labaniah taste even more Indian try wetting your hands with a few drops of kewra or rose water when rolling the dough.

Sep 9, 2016

Baed Eid

Next week starts the most holy celebration of the Islamic year called Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) in Arabic or Baed Eid (Big Eid) in Kashmiri. The festival begins at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj.  During the Hajj, Muslims remember and honor the trials and triumphs of great patriarch and Prophet Abraham. This holiday honors the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son. Just when the Prophet Abraham was prepared to perform the sacrifice, the angel Jibra'il (Gabriel) intervened telling him that his sacrifice had already been fulfilled.

The Sacrifice of Isaac  by Caravaggio 
With this act of obedience the Prophet Abraham had shown that his love for Allah was above all others, and that he would willingly lay down the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah. Muslims commemorate this trial of the Prophet Abraham by the halal slaughtering of an animal such as a sheep, camel, cow, or goat. Allah has given us dominance over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. 

Kashmiri women at Eid prayers
On the first morning of Eid ul-Adha, Muslims worldwide attend morning prayers. Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayers. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, the exchange of greetings (Eid Mubarak), and give gifts called Eidi.

Kashmiri men at Eid prayers
At some point during the festival Muslims who can afford it sacrifice a halal domestic animal such as a goat, sheep, camel, yak, or cow in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. The sacrificed animals are called qurbani and must be of a certain age and standards of perfection or the animal is considered unacceptable. (In Kashmir a sheep fattened up on cashews and other goodies is preferred. Every once in a while some affluent Kashmiri buys a camel or yak to show off I suppose. Camel and yak really don't taste that great.)

Sheep being sold for Baed Eid in Kashmir
The animal (qurbani) is slaughtered in the halal manner and the meat is traditionally divided into three portions. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends and neighbors, and one-third is donated to the poor. This act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us in order to follow Allah's commands, to strengthen ties within the community, and to help those who are in need. 

Traditional Kashmiri mutton-a-palooza!
(Every part of the sheep is used in a specific dish)
In addition to distributing qurbani to the poor the meat is prepared and often served at mosques so that those less fortunate do not miss this sacrificial meal. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them with Islam and Muslim culture. (This means Bibi's going to be cooking a lot- not just meat but treats too!)

Eidi or the gifts given over Eid traditionally take the form of money, presents such as smartphones and perfume, or even flowers. Usually it is children who receive eidi from uncles and their parents.

From our family to yours:
May the blessings of Allah bring you hope, faith, and joy!  Happy Eid ul-Adha 2016!

Aug 5, 2016

Eid in Kashmir

So we finally made it to Kashmir for Eid al-Fitr!
Usually everyone dresses in their finest new clothes (specially bought for the holiday) and goes to visit close and immediate family on Eid al-Fitr. While visiting gifts of money are exchanged, all sorts of foods and treats are served.

This is an example of all the goodies typically served to Eid guests. Kashmiris don't bake at home but purchase their baked goods at neighborhood bakeries. Kashmiris have a lot of unique breads that are cooked in tandoori ovens and are similar to what you'd find in Iran or Afghanistan.

Here's a smaller spread of treats, the brown round breads in the center are called kulchas and are baked in a tandoori oven. The large round cookies on the right are giant coconut macaroons. The swirly and squiggly bits and bobs in bowls are delicious savory, spicy, and crispy fried batters made from dals. The pale round cookies on the far left are Moroccan goraybah biscuits I made and brought from Nepal. (I'll be featuring the recipe later on the blog.) Either Lipton chai (Lipton tea boiled with milk and sweetened with sugar) or noon chai (Kashmiri salt tea) is always served to the guests.

This stunning supermodel to be is my niece, Minha. She wins Bibi's prize for best Eid ensemble. She chose the elegantly gold embroidered and white stone embellished navy velvet lehenga over yellow lace palazzos lined in satin herself. A matching dupatta dip dyed navy over pale yellow with gold lame ribbon trim completes the look. I wish you could see her matching bejeweled gold sandals better but such is the nature of palazzo pants. Carefully coordinated earrings, bangles, and pendant provide the perfect accents for Ms Minha's festive attire. I was trying to get her to pose in a manner that would show the gorgeous mehendi on her hands but unfortunately she ended up looking like she's going to give someone a karate chop. I think we'll have to watch a few episodes of Top Model to develop a more graceful pose and perfect that that smize or "smiling with your eyes" look as Tyra Banks calls it. Oh well, plenty of time for that. Everyone says Ms Minha looks and acts just like her Aunty Bibi. I have to admit she does indeed favor me in looks, taste, mannerisms, and temperament. In fact many of the neighbors think Ms Minha is really my daughter because, you know, us white women just squirt out babies and leave them all over. 

Speaking of fabulous clothing, my brother in law sells Kashmiri textiles wholesale and had a huge bundle of these beauties! This is a traditional Kashmiri embroidered coat. The traditional tulip pattern is hand embroidered in chain stitched silk on the blue wool of the coat. Kashmiri arts and crafts have a heavy Persian influence. The ancient Persians loved flowers as an artistic motif, in their gardens, and for their fragrances. 
This is another traditional chain stitched Kashmiri floral pattern hand embroidered in peacock blues and teals on black hand loomed silk. 

Here's is a modern floral pattern chain stitched by hand in bright corals and cool fuchsia silks. This coat is full pashmina (that's right I said FULL PASHMINA). We're talking beaucoup $'s here! That particular muted pink shade of the pashmina coat is quite popular and called noon chai as it is the same color as Kashmiri salt tea. 

After all that dressing up, chatting, visiting, and eating we went for a ride around Dal Lake in Srinagar. What a mistake that was. Traffic was horrendous. Due to the depressed economy in Kashmir there's always a lot of unemployed young males standing around (which usually means trouble anywhere on the planet). In addition to the horrific traffic night people seemed extra loud and obnoxious. Something seemed to be going on. Anyway, I got this lovely photo of the sun going down over the lake.

And then all hell broke loose. 
A militant commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen and two accomplices were killed in an encounter by Indian security forces in a village in southern Kashmir. This set off protests, riots, stone pelting, and attacks on police stations and kiosks across all ten districts of Kashmir. Tear gas, lathi charges, pepper gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, and pellet guns were in use. Curfews were set, internet suspended, land and mobile lines cut being off, news and media bans intermittently imposed- this was to be the ongoing 2016 Kashmir unrest.
To be continued...