One of the most important aspects of a celebration is the special dishes. From modaks to kulkuls to bebinca, we are all familiar with the delicacies that form an important part of major Catholic and Hindu festivals in our tiny state.
But, what about the festive menu of Goa’s Muslim community? Apart from the mesmerising aromas wafting through the air during Ramadan and Eid, very little is known about the traditional food that was cooked during Eid in Goa.
EID FARE: BACK IN THE DAY
When we speak about the Muslim community in Goa, we should remember that they were 'outsiders.' They were not originally from Goa. They came from various places–some came from close by places like Bijapur, and some from as far away as Turkey.
In the days of yore, Eid festivities in Goa began well before the actual day. Recipes have been passed down through word of mouth, and have been continuing till date in many local households.
The main course, in the past, usually consisted of a non-vegetarian dish. Being close-knit and in a joint family system, with limited resources, poultry was usually the main choice. Days in advance, the fowls would be cooped, fed with the best that the families could afford, in time to fatten them up to yield a better and heavier bird. Roosters were preferred to hens.
Next, on the menu, was the rice dish–a simple, yet tasty one, made with clarified butter, which was churned at home.
This simple fare concluded with a dessert, made of vermicelli. Since coconuts were plentiful and cheap, too, they were preferred over cow’s milk, when it came to preparing the sweet.
EID FARE: TODAY IN GOA
Coming to the present day scenario: There is a nuclear setup in every family. Time, too, is a constraint during Eid, and so is the working woman factor. Yet, the lady of the house still goes to great lengths to see that her festive table is laden with scrumptious dishes.
The Biryani is the focal point of the festive meal these days. It is made of chicken or lamb. Seafood or Vegetable Biryani is never made on the big day.
Kormas, semi-gravies and dry dishes are next on the menu. Although fried food is a must, the health-conscious make a healthier version using alternative cooking oils. There are Kebabs and Cutlets, which are made a day in advance. Assorted Salads and certain exotic vegetables are also prepared.
Although there are a variety of desserts, the traditional Sheer Kurma takes the pride of place. The only similarity between festive cuisine nowadays, compared to that of the past, is the use of vermicelli in Sheer Kurma. The difference is that it was made at home, back then, and these days, it is store-bought. In those days, we used rice flour vermicelli, but now, it is made of wheat. Every home had its own distinctive flavour of kheer back in the day.
A wide array of fruits, local and imported, is also served these days. Popular choices are kiwis, lychees, as well as our own home-grown papayas and bananas.
Last, but not least on the festive table are Sherbets, Sorbets as well as milk-based coolers.
If, for whatever reason, it is not possible to prepare the Eid lunch and dinner, people place an order for the same.
TYPICAL EID MENU IN GOA IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Main course: Chicken Gravy, Steamed/Ghee Rice
Dessert: Sheer Kurma
MODERN DAY EID MENU IN GOA
Hors d'oeuvres: Assorted
Appetizer: Shammi Kebabs, Samosas, Puff pastries, tangy treats, finger foods
First course: Soups, Salads, etc
Main course: Biryani, Gravies (mutton, chicken, beef), a variety of breads (homemade or purchased) etc
Beverages: Sherbets, Sorbets, Faloodas etc
Desserts: Sheer Kurma, Cakes, Pastries, Confectionery, Fruits, Cheese, Biscuits, Icecreams etc
In addition to the above, a variety of items are served, including national & international selections, depending on personal preferences.