EID CELEBRATION AND FOOD

Collection of cookies and nuts served with smoked icy water with mistika, candy,juice and and black tea with mint

Collection of cookies and nuts served with smoked icy water with mistika, candy,juice and and black tea with mint

Eid of Ramadan is considered the first three days after the holy month of Ramadan, a holly month where all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset from eating and drinking.
Eid for countries that adopt Ramadan is the equal of Christmas in western countries.
The festivity and celebration during this time of the year comes with many memories of mine as a child growing up in Yemen.
First, everyone must wear new clothes, and be scrubbing clean. Men /some women, go for Eid morning prayers, and then get back to a large breakfast meal celebrating the first day after a long month of fasting.

Eid this year started beautifully , relatively cooler after a whole night of rain showers on City of Taiz, .We woke up to a foggy misty day!..People here love it specially when its August!

Eid this year started beautifully , relatively cooler after a whole night of rain showers on City of Taiz, .We woke up to a foggy misty day!..People here love it specially when its August!

Usually, the first day of Eid is hard on people to adjust their sleeping hours back to normal night hours after shifting them during Ramadan, and that’s why many likes to start the day with a big cup of Yemeni, spiced, and freshly brewed coffee (Bonn-بُن) and maybe one or two dates.
Kids know that they will not be punished at the night of Eid.My dad remembers, as a child, he used to be extra naughty and less caring for keeping his clothes clean while playing with other kids because he knows that no kid would sleep sad or crying at the night before Eid.
Kids were disciplined at that day by telling them that Eid flys away and refuses to arrive to a city were their kids were not behaving well. You can imagine how kids believe, just like how kids in the west believe of mysterious Santa visiting from the north pole and bromgs with him his precious gifts.
Later on, after breakfast, kids get ready to go with their parents in a series of house visits for family members.
This time of the year is considered very important for families to re-unite, get back in touch, and know each and everyone’s updates on their lives.
Problems or conflicts discussions are delayed for after Eid, and everyone look forward to spend some good time with their families, and to remember their loved ones who passed away by visiting their tombs and inviting their families for lunch and afternoon socializing.
Its very important to bring some money as a gift or as Yemenis call it “Aasb” عسب for women of the family or others with financial needs. A support system that has been around for so long to promote the strength and unity between families, and a way to help and care for others without being labelled as a charity gesture, its simply just an Eid gift.
Kids get their share of money gifts too, it’s also has another name “Oyadaah” عُياده. I remember at this age that I would get all my Oyadah during my visits, but then spend it all over afternoon buying fireworks and candy.

This year,while my visit to my grandfather’s house, I witnessed neighborhood’s kids knocking the doors asking for their Oyadah and some cookies. For none family kids its usually a nominal amount of money.I was surprised how girls are noticing women’s fashion, very different from how I had it in my childhood. Fancy big hairs styles, sparkly dresses, and big accessories. Only then, I realized that I am the one growing older, and I forgot how exciting kids become at this time and competing to be fancy and “cool” as much as they can. I vaguely remember I was nagging and begging my mom to wear high heels like her but I can’t remember if it worked or not.

Neighbor's kids meet up after finishing their visits with their families and start knocking doors asking for their candy and Oyadah :)

Neighbor’s kids meet up after finishing their visits with their families and start knocking doors asking for their candy and Oyadah 🙂


Fancy little princesses

Fancy little princesses


Noticing this moment reminded me, in a weird way, with my first experience of Halloween in the United States. Neighborhod’s kids rang my bell asking for candy, they were wearing cute crazy costumes, and most importantly, all drew huge smiles in their faces when they received there candy bars.
As I was taking those pictures was thinking that this is exactly how every kid in this world should celebrate.
henna motives
My mom used to draw beautiful motives of Henna on my hands, a tradition that is still strong in old neighborhoods of cities of Yemen. This costume is still alive and thriving in most of Yemen urban and rural area,however ,most people now use a ready to make henna tape that you put on your hand and fill in the pattern’s gaps with henna . Henna plant is considered a blessed plant . It is pretty much used for dying hair ,and making henna motives on skin. Its mixture with water is popular to cool down head from heat in hot weather.
Later on we got back our way home, and finished up the celebration with meat in the oven , Fattah meal (that could be eaten with honey or with yogurt and spicey bisbas chilli) and Saltah.
Meat,Fattah,and Saltah, what can I ask more for Eid?

Meat,Fattah,and Saltah, what can I ask more for Eid?


That’s how Yemenis spend Eid , and how family meetings continue during the first three days after Ramadan.

11/9/2013
Note

On that same month, I was delighted to be invited to speak on Ramadan rituals through Mafraj Radio. Mafraj Radio is a podcast organized by Will Picard, founder of Yemen Peace Project.
If you are interested in Listening to the Podcast Please, check this Link.

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Kisher Coffee smoked with Mistika – قهوة قشر مبخرة بالمستكة

Kisher
Kisher Coffee,A drink that is not quite a coffee or tea.
For many coffee lovers like me, the rituals that comes in preparation is just as important as the coffee itself.
CUP OF KISHER

Having Kisher Coffee in Yemen is considered as the classic afternoon ritual for many Yemeni households. When Kisher coffee is served, it means socializing with family and guests had started.
Kisher coffee is also good for digesting after a heavy meal, as it is usually accompanied with spices such as cinnamon, and ginger. Sipping and enjoying a long afternoon with either some sweet dessert, or Thamool, (dry salty cookies) is one of the old traditions that Yemenis had kept since forever.
I find it brilliant how Yemenis make it important to produce tasty foods and drinks with minimal waste.
Kisher coffee is one of those brilliant inventions. It is the dry shell of the coffee, which usually is thrown away .The coffee shell has a great –tea like- flavor with less caffeine than coffee and tea combined and provides a very healthy drink since it has so many anti-oxidants (1). Kisher (derived from the word Kishra قشرة (in Arabic language simply means the outer shell or skin.
It is usually brewed with spices such as ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Usually for long time like 45 mints or with less amount of time, if desired lighter. While writing this, my mom insisted to explain in this blog that these ingredients are flexible to your taste, some households add ginger only, where some people like it with cinnamon and cardamom and the other stuff. The way my mom do it at home, is adding a little of everything, and let the Kisher brew slowly in the kettle until it turns to golden brown color.

For many, this ritual is considered enough to make your cup of Kisher coffee ready, however, there is also a beautiful ritual that I would like to share with you from my family’s household that we used to do each Ramadan, or whenever we have senior guests since they still like to hold on to old coffee traditions. This ritual is smoking the coffee cups with Mistika.

Mistika

Mistika is a natural gum product from trees(Boswellia sacra) that is also known for flavoring desserts or food. It is also used in producing a pleasant smoky smells when burned with charcoal.
boswellia-sacra-a

Old Yemenis used Mistika in their rituals and prayers in their shrines, at the times; it was for Ilmaqa, the goddess of the Moon. Yemeni Merchants realized how much it was important for the prayers for many temples in Egypt, Ethiopia,and up to Jerusalem. In a route famously named with “Incense Road” طريق اللبان و البخور,Yemeni Merchants traveled and exchanged Mistika with Gold and Silver coins and valued goods from those faraway lands, as it was so much valued in the process of prayers of old times religions.
Today Mistika is burned to make houses smell pleasant, when people receive guests, and even believed to persuade the evil eyes to go away from the household and protect its residents.
This ritual reminds me with Ramadan, a spiritual month that comes every year with so many cooking, and eating rituals.
To smoke the coffee cups with Mistika you will first need to heat the Falss فلس, a block of carved stone on the oven with some charcoal to keep its heat.

FALSS فلس

SMOKING CUPS

When it turns to red and hot, cover it in your grill for a while with the hot charcoal, until you know it maintained its heat. If you do not have Maoqad موقد, you can use your grill too. When Falss turn hot and red it is then ready to start smoking the cups.

First start with putting Mistika pieces on top of the Falss. The Mistika will start burning.
Quickly put the first cup for couple of minutes or until the cup turns into yellow/brown color. This color is actually sticky too. Do not worry, soon when you drink in a coffee this colored layer will dissolve in your coffee and brings a unique smoky taste in your coffee.

SMOKED MISTIKA RESIDUE

First, Remove the first cup and quickly bring the second cup and repeat the process.
Put more Mistika for more smoke and finish up the rest of the cups.


Preparation of Kisher Coffee

Ingredients

Ingredients
¼ tea spoon Ginger powder
½ stick of Cinnamon
2-3 Cardamom seeds
2-3 Cloves
Pinch of nutmeg powder
Kisher (for every 300 ml of water, add ¼ cup of kisher)
Preparation
(There are many ways for grinding and preparing Kisher coffee, some like it to be plain and raw, and some like it to be smoothly grounded to be like powder and mixed with powdered spices all together. There is also a type of Kisher coffee that called Moshahafa coffee قهوة مشهفة that means” gone under heat very quickly” until it turns to golden color. This process brings a toasty sweet taste to your coffee.)
-Add water, sugar, spices and Kisher all together and let brew slowly until it turns to golden color.

Sources:
http://kishr.com/health/
http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86