Growing up in an Industrial Township in an eastern state of India with the most diverse and multi-religious environment are my memories of childhood. Most of my friends spoke different languages, wore different attires, believed in different theologies, however culturally we were all human beings. Religion was never discriminatory, food was always a connecting element and everything relating to the stomach was irrelevant or trivial. One of the icons of Indian culture and its renaissance, Swami Vivekananda remarked thus:
As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God – Swami Vivekananda.
Celebrations meant flaunting our best self to others, wearing new clothes, visiting friends, sharing delicacies and goodies made at home and cultural enjoyment.
My culinary memories of Eid include Sevaiyan (vermicelli stewed in sweetened milk and nuts), haleem (stewed lamb and lentils cooked to a mash) and gosht dum biryani (steamed lamb and fragrant rice cooked in a pot together) to name a few. After the month long fasting during the day, the complete experience is overwhelming, when you are getting used to a particular diet regime and then after all those moments of sacrifice and self-atonement, it is sumptuously rich food and celebration all around. There is happiness and merriment, greetings and wishing going around above all the food provision is diverse and opulent. Visiting a home celebrating Eid was purely a thrilling experience, among my most favourites was the vermicelli pudding sevaiyaan. The richness and medley of preparations spoke aplenty about one’s state of mind.
Jami at-Tirmidhi 1854: “O Mankind, spread peace and feed people…”
Gluten & lactose free kheer
- Flax seeds: 1 tbsp
- Sunflower seeds: 1 tbsp
- Chia seeds:1 tbsp
- Sesame seeds (black & white): 1 tbsp
- Almond powder: 2 tbsp
- Almond flakes: 2 tsp
- Coconut milk: 1 lt
- Honey: 1 tbsp
- Saffron strands: a few
- All spice powder: ½ tsp
- Preheat the oven to 140°C.
- Place all the seeds on a tray and dry roast them for about 15 min. till crisp but without changing colour.
- Place all the roasted seeds in a grinder and grind them along with 1/3rd of the coconut milk to a smooth paste.
- Bring the coconut milk to a simmer and whisk well. Add the spice, saffron and honey.
- Add the nuts paste and simmer well for about 15 min till thick.
- Dry-roast the almond flakes and keep aside.
- Serve the thick pudding garnished with the almond flakes and a few strands of saffron. Serve hot.