We’ve made it – Eid is finally here! Despite Ramadan being an absolutely brilliant time of the year – a month ideal for moving closer to God, quiet contemplation and reflection, spending quality time with family and friends and (as my bloghas gone to great pains to point out) eating some of Morocco’s best dishes – the truth is that many of us had to practically ‘crawl’ over the ‘finish line’. Yes, Ramadan is special, but it isn’t always easy, particularly when our non-Muslim friends and colleagues are obliviously chowing down on luscious lunches, guzzling refreshing drinks and munching on a seemingly endless supply of mouth-watering snacks. But it’s all been worth it… because the best holiday of all is upon us – I’m talking of course about Eid (for the non-Muslim reader, think ‘Christmas on steroids’!).
‘Christmas on steroids’ isn’t necessarily the official definition of Eid. So what is this important Muslim celebration?
If you’re Moroccan and/or Muslim you know exactly what Eid is, and you know that it is arguably ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.
And yet, despite London being such a hotbed of diversity, many non-Muslims haven’t the slightest idea what this juggernaut holiday is.
First let’s get the basics right: there are several ‘Eids’ throughout the year, and the one we are currently celebrating is called ‘Eid al-Fitr’, and it both marks the end of Ramadan and ushers in the month of Shawwal with a massive foodie feast to end the period of fasting.
Eid al-Fitr is a bank holiday in Morocco (and I presume all other Muslim-majority countries) and it involves visiting the mosque and quite a bit of praying. But when the religious stuff is over, Eid’s all about getting together with your family and best friends to exchange presents… A bit like Christmas, right?
So what’s the ‘steroid’ bit, you might ask? Well, I can only speak for how we do things in Morocco, but instead of the waves of blandness that emanate from the British Christmas lunch, the Moroccan Eid al-Fitr feast is the scrumptious stuff of foodie legend. At Zayane we are bringing three of Morocco’s best celebratory dishes to the fore for Eid this year, beginning with our chicken bastilla. We often describe this dish as a ‘pie’ but it is nothing like the pies to which we are accustomed in Britain. It is a sweet and savoury crispy phyllo parcel filled with ginger- and cinnamon-infused, melt-in-your mouth chicken. It’s amazing, so much so that you’ll probably want a second. But better to leave room for the deliciousness that is to come!
Next on the Eid menu is lamb meshwi accompanied by vegetable couscous.
Don’t get me wrong – the lamb is a real treat as it is slow-roasted shoulder seasoned with Moroccan spices. The meat is tender, falling off the bone and will melt in your mouth… But it is the couscous that steals the show! During Ramadan we typically don’t eat this omnipresent Moroccan staple because it is surprisingly light and therefore doesn’t fill you up or sustain you for the next day’s fast. So when it’s Eid al-Fitr the first thing a Moroccan will crave is couscous… often with a side of succulent lamb!
Zayane’s Eid will culminate on the mother of all Moroccan dishes – a sumptuous chicken tagine.
Just when you thought you couldn’t eat anymore, the tagine lid is lifted and a fragrant and most-appetising aroma escapes and infiltrates your senses. Breathlessly, your brain tells you to throw caution to the wind and to dive into the exquisiteness in front of you. You oblige because Eid is all about celebrating through ridiculously amazing Moroccan food!
Now that you are officially stuffed, you can tap out with some cornes de gazelle, Morocco’s quintessential biscuit, without which Eid simply wouldn’t be Eid! But if you have some more room left in your belly, you might want to consider one of my favourite summer puddings that rounds the Eid al-Fitr feast off perfectly… a slice of ice cream cake!
If you fancy enjoying Eid al-Fitr out this year, I can assure you that no one will do it as well or as lavishly as Zayane. There isn’t a set menu, but for Eid al-Fitr each item will be available to order from our a la carte and specials’ menu.
Everyone is invited to share in the delights of a traditional Eid feast… we hope to see you all very soon!