Back in Pakistan, after the morning prayers, while the butcher would trim meat into cuts, my uncle would send cow’s liver for us to cook Kaleji—liver sauteed with fenugreek seeds, onions, spices, yogurt, chilies, and dill. Along with the morning guests who would stop by after Eid Prayers, we would have Kaleji—a specialty in our family—for breakfast.
Once we packaged the meat, my cousin and I would distribute it to our relatives and neighbors. We would then start decorating the house and preparing a feast for a few dozen people. From Beef Biryani to Beef Karahi Gosht—beef cubes stir-fried with tomatoes, green chili, ginger, and garlic in a wok-like pan—from BBQ to kebabs, we would have all the savory flavors.
When I moved to the U.S., I’d still dress up and visit the mosque to celebrate, pray as a community. Yet, without the lighted neighborhood, the sizzling of the Gola Kabab, the aroma from the grill wafting through the air, the loud guffaws filling the room, it just wasn’t the same. It was a celebration, but it didn’t feel like Eid.
A few years ago, my aunt started hosting a BBQ picnic at San Pablo Reservoir. They served burgers and hot dogs, and the rest was an open potluck—you were welcome to bring food or just bring yourself.
From nachos to traditional Pakistani fare, from Koobideh—Persian meat kebab made from ground lamb or beef—to Baklava, the picnic table would be full of food. At all times, someone would be on the grill, barbecuing burgers and hot dogs. It was the perfect melding of old traditions and new.
But this year, we have to modify our celebrations according to these unique circumstances.
For me, it’s the act of getting people under one roof, the preparation and the chaos that goes into it, the dressing up and the dolling-up-in-one-room, the last-minute arrangements, and taking care of the guests that get me excited about Eid.
I won’t have that this year. My family and I won’t be able to pray and celebrate with relatives and community members in person, but instead, celebrate with them on Zoom. We will dress up and offer prayers at home. Instead of all the ruckus in the kitchen, this time, we will cook more quietly.
As much as I like a boisterous Eid, I am honestly looking forward to a calm one this time around. I am looking forward to eating Tandoori Chicken—skinless legs and thighs marinated in a mixture of yogurt, lemon, and traditional spices—along with Beef Boti, served with green chutney and parathas.
While the day might not be as vibrant and festive as the preceding years, I’m ecstatic to be celebrating this Eid with my immediate family with the hope that we will commemorate future events with high spirits again.