Lavish spread marks Eid in Old Delhi

New Delhi: The aroma of kebabs, biryanis, niharis and kormas enveloped the winding by-lanes of old Delhi as Muslims prepared a lavish feast to celebrate Eid-Ul-Azha here Saturday.

As soon as morning prayers were offered, goats and lambs were sacrificed. After donating a third of the meat to the poor according to tradition, huge woks and grills were set up to prepare gastronomic delicacies to celebrate the occasion.

"Once the lamb is sacrificed, the liver is taken out, chopped and fried or cooked in a gravy and consumed immediately as it strengthens the immune system and makes one energetic," explained Shabaz Ali, a resident of Matia Mahal in the walled city.

Eid-ul-Azha, also known as Bakr-Eid or the festival of sacrifice, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It is celebrated to honour Prophet Ibrahim, who was even willing to sacrifice his son Ismail to please Allah.

According to Muslim belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim and replaced Ismail with a sheep just as Ibrahim was about to slit his throat - hence the tradition of sacrificing an animal.

Some of the popular dishes that are cooked every year on the occasion are achari gosht, mutton stew, fried kaleji (liver) and tandoori raan (grilled lamb thigh)-- prepared in homes and restaurants.

Another delectable appetizer is the seekh kebab made of camel meat. However, as not many sacrifice the animal because of space and financial constraints, it remains a rare delicacy.

"The celebrations are on for three days. Eid is the first day, followed by basi and tibasi. The sacrificing of animals and preparations of delicacies continue throughout,` said Haji Moin Idris, a resident of Daryaganj in the city`s old quarters.

And after the main course, come the lip-smacking sweet sevaiyan and kheer, topped up with generous amounts of dry fruits for added flavour.

The festival is a gourmet`s delight, especially for non-Muslims who get the opportunity to sink their teeth into juicy, tender meat.

"Old Delhi is always bustling with crowds, but on Eid, you just have to be here. The gastronomical delights will surely get the better of you," said Rohan Dua, a student of Delhi University.

Dua swears that the dishes taste much better on Eid than on other days of the year at restaurants here.

"I have come here with my friends and we will eat till we burst at the seams," he chuckles.