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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Dates with Eggs تمر بالبيض

eggs with dates

Dates with eggs might not be your typical Yemeni dish that you would run into in a Shaibani or a Hadramout restaurants. Few families do it, and usually served as a specialty breakfast for recently delivered mothers.
It is believed that dates and eggs have the richest ingredients that would help in providing the baby with the most nutrition’s during their breast feeding phase.
Dates and eggs have dear memories from my childhood. As a kid I would have it in my weekends on a family Friday breakfasts. I used to go with my family to visit my grandma, and my aunt would cook it for us and serve it with mint black tea, and warm freshly made Molawah bread (مُلَوْح)The warm aroma’s of cooked dates with traditional smoked ghee and the mint tea made me stick to my aunt while she was cooking. At the time, my height would only reach the oven knobs, and my presence was a hazard. Somehow, my wanderings around the Kitchen would always end up by me helping her either serving bread, or serve tea cups for everyone before the main dish is served. She really knew how to make the best of my energy. The food was usually served in the middle of a bright room with big windows and bright half mooned frosted glass mosaics on their upper parts )Qamaryaa )قمرية). My grandfather’s house was a traditional one. It had a 50 cm irregular stairs height (1.6 ft), thick walls of stone, almost a hundred years old massive wood entrance door and wonderful views to some of the most grand artifacts of the Rasoliete Kingdom in Yemen (Alrasolyeein Dynasty-(الدولة الرسولية-

Simple yet intricate motives and washed with white plaster is one of the unique endangered architectural styles in Yemen.The flute shape is a Fattimied architectural style that can be seen in Egyptian mosques as well.

Simple yet intricate motives and washed with white plaster is one of the unique endangered architectural styles in Yemen.The flute shape is a Fattimyed architectural style that can be seen in Egyptian mosques as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Mo’tabiaa mosque(مسجد المعتبية) named after Mo’taab the princess, The Ashrafyaa Mosque(مسجد الاشرفية) that was named after king Al-Ashraf,and The Qahira Castle (قلعة القاهرة) are only footsteps from the house, as it was in the heart of the old city of Taiz,and laying under the foot of Saber mountain. This city was surrounded with walls at the time, but sadly huge parts of it are ruined right now, and many new slums started growing within the gated city,using the stones of the original historical walls. It’s a shame that so much destruction had happened to the older city of Taiz. Elder generations recall that the land part of the mosque property(Waqf-وقف) were sort of an “agricultural parks” for the people.They used to grow crops on them, and where places to catch a fresh breathe while having a walk before sunset.
Taiz in 1952

Old Taiz

The Old entrance gate of Old Taiz City

The Old entrance gate of Old Taiz City

Mosques Property -Waqf-Were people's green lush parks

Mosques Property -Waqf-Were people’s green lush parks

The Rasoliete era (1229-1454 A.D) in Yemen was considered one of the brightest (of few) in Yemen’s history. 225 years was the longest time were one entity was able to rule ALL of Yemen, up to Thofar in Oman, and with Taiz it’s Capital.
Arab countries at the times were under two powerfull dynasties,the Abbasides ruling from Baghdad in Iraq,and Fatimmyides,ruling from Egypt.Yemen was shifting its loyalty between both dynasties,and sometimes dividing the country to two or three smaller states,each having their own authority that follows the Khalffiets either in Baghdad or Cairo.
Initially Rasoliete were Kurds who ruled under the umbrella of Abbasside dynasty in Iraq.They came right after the Ayobbides whom,Toran Shah, brother of Saladin Al-Ayobi was one of the famous rulers in Yemen,and whose loyalty was originally for Egypt.He built the Qahira Castle in Taiz.
Stories say that he was the one who designed Taiz, naming it at first “THEE-ODAINA” after his doctors recommended its location for its fresh clear air,and nice moderate weather for him,since he suffered a chronic illness.He also was not happy with his deployment to Yemen after living all his life between Damascus,Cairo,and Baghdad,major glamourous cities at the time.
However,he created a legacy and managed to get out the control of Fattimyeds in Yemen and prepare for Noor Al-Dien Al Rasooli,the first Rasoliete,whom was Kurdish like him,to rule after his life, all of Yemen.

What made Rasolietes era so unique was the government’s interest in education and literature. Every Mosque was designed to include a library and a school (Madrasah-المدرسة) where students would have sessions in Arabic literature, religion, math, and even philosophy.
The spirit of Rasoliete and their passion for education is still in the people of Taiz. It was deeply imbedded in their culture that today it is considered the most literate city in Yemen, and most of intellectual Yemeni women come from there too. Taiz brought the most brilliant minds of the country and it now proudly holds the title of the cultural capital of Yemen.

Later in my college years, I grew a friendship with a Kurdish Iraqi friend, who once in our long talks about native food of our countries, she told me that they also have a meal consisted of dates with eggs, and that it was also served as a specialty food for new moms, or guests!
My astonishment and excitement was more than anyone could believe, as growing up in Yemen, I never knew any of my school piers, or neighbors or closely anyone but my family who knows that meal, except later on in my life, I found my mother in-law knows this recipe too.
Even my dad recalls an adventure trip of his own in 1964 to Aden, when it was still a British colony. He remembers he was in a pick-up car with half-dozen people traveling, and then something happened to the car right before Al-Rahida village (one hour away from Aden) and needed to stop.
In that remote area there was nothing served by the villagers for dinner but eggs and dates so he offered making that dish, who nobody knew it existed.Thirty years later,he met one of those travelers in a complete incident and he reminded him of that dish that he made.Needless to say how much he loved it.

So what is the story behind this one of best hidden secrets of Yemeni food?
Eggs and dates is a common meal in Iraq and Iran.ofcourse it must be, both of these countries are famous of their top quality dates around the world! This meal could found its way through Rasolietes ruling who,as Kurds, came to Yemen with all their customs, and foods. However, as a Yemeni dish, it was flavored and tweaked to fit the Yemeni tasting buds as it’s seasoned with nutmeg and cardamom for extra taste. Families who lived in older neighborhoods in the big Yemeni gated cities must have picked that up, which actually explains why I never met anyone out of my grandparent’s neighborhood who would know it! Stone dish makes an extra flavor to it as it slowly transfers the heat to the dates and builds up a sweet crispy layer at the base of the dish,which I love digging at the end of the meal as an extra treat after a sweet,heart warming meal .

This Recipe is very simple, easy to re arrange the ratio of dates to eggs depending on wther you like it more sweet or savory and calls for three main ingredients; and served with warm bread.

Ingredients:
3 Eggs
2-3 spoons of Butter or clarified ghee
1 cup of seedless Dates
Seasoning:
Salt and pepper, & Cardmom, Nutmeg (if desired)
Ingreditents

-First heat the stone dish and put the butter in until it melts completely.
-Add the dates and start making a purée or until it becomes completely soft and combined together like a dough.
-Make a hole in the center and add the eggs. There are two ways to do it, either by whisking the eggs in a separate dish then pour it to the center or break the eggs directly.
As for me, I prefer the second one, maybe because this is how my aunt used to serve it to us on our Friday visits.

butter

sizzling dates

hole in the dates purea

egg in the dates

Sources
http://alamree.net/alboum-taiz_2.htm
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/08/19/khorma_tokhme_morgh_dates_and_eggs_recipe/