A little late on a post here. Apologies to my feasting friends, I've been traveling--for pleasure and for work--and am just now trying to get my house to look like grownups live in it. Good thing I wasn't planning on having fifty of my nearest and dearest over for Eid-al-Fitr!
Eid-al-Fitr, as many of you know, is the big iftar (break-fast) for Ramadan. It is sometimes known as the Lesser Eid (in relation to Eid-al-Adha). The holiday begins on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and can lead to feasting and rejoicing for three days. This year, Eid began on July 18 in the US (so I'm just getting this post in under the wire). The mood is festive and, for some Muslims, this is an occasion of gift-giving.
Perhaps I'm overly tuned in to holiday coverage these days, but it does seem like major US news outlets are spending a lot of time on Ramadan these days. I'm thrilled, but I wonder what has led to the sudden discovery of this holiday that well over one billion people observe. Is it finally the mainstreaming of Ramadan or is it an over-correction? Whatever the reason, I'm happy about it if it leads to more sweet treats highlighting cardamom.
And since my own kitchen is a bit of a train wreck these days, I leave you with one such recipe published recently in The New York Times but inspired by the lovely blog My Tamarind Kitchen:
4 to 5 green cardamom pods
½ teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter or high-fat butter
½ cup chopped pistachios, plus 1 tablespoon whole pistachios
6 ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut, for serving
1 tablespoon raisins, for serving
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, for serving
1 cup khoya (thickened milk solids) or heavy cream, for serving
- Crush cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife and remove seeds (discard husks).
- Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove 1 tablespoon of boiling water and use it to steep the saffron. Keep remaining water hot.
- Heat the ghee in a wok or large skillet over medium-high. Add chopped pistachios and cardamom seeds and stir-fry until the cardamom is fragrant and the pistachios begin to lightly brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add vermicelli. Cook, stirring constantly, until vermicelli is browned and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium low and add boiling water and steeped saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vermicelli is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in sugar until dissolved and cook 2 minutes more. Serve warm topped with the coconut, raisins, almonds, whole pistachios and khoya.