A Taste of Eid

News - Books Friday, 22nd May 2020

As the festival of Eid begins, we present BookBrunch's sumptuous new cookery book, A Taste of Eid

As 1.8 billion people around the world prepare to celebrate a very unusual Eid in lockdown from this evening, BrunchBook’s first publication, a beautifully illustrated A Taste of Eid, invites everyone, whether celebrating Eid or not, to enjoy a selection of delicious recipes evoking the flavours, scents, tastes and traditions of the festival, Emirati and UK style. Publicity for the book is lined up in the Daily Express, Waitrose magazine, Grazia, Stylist, Eastern Eye, Asian Express, Asian Sunday among others, and bookshops can order copies direct from NBNi via email (NBNi.orders@ingramcontent.com) or their usual Nielsen PubEasy link, while Gardners has stock available too.

Lucy Nathan, BookBrunch reporter, has been putting some of the recipes to the test:

As a less-than-talented chef, I was a little apprehensive when A Taste of Eid arrived at my front door. I am a better baker than cook, so my instinct was to flip to the back section, where there is a plethora of recipes for sweet treats: truffles scented with fennel, sweets made with pistachio, cranberry and coconut, and a glorious lemon-rose Eid cake that is pride of place on the cover. I make a mean apple pie so I tried out the apple and sultana filo parcels. My kitchen smelled like heaven as the fruit, sultanas, cinnamon, cardamom and honey simmered on the hob, and once they were done, the filo parcels tasted even better. Crunchy, crackly pastry, the apple mixture inside warm and sweet and spicy. Despite my limited cooking skills, the apple did not explode out of the pastry in the oven as I had feared, and they tasted magical. The next evening I warmed up the leftover parcels and added vanilla ice cream. Speaking as someone who once burned soup: this recipe is foolproof.

With that little triumph under my belt, I began to explore the rest of the book. I am a vegetarian, which means that a lot of recipe books have sections that I flip through and ignore, but A Taste of Eid has plenty of tasty veggie dishes and sides, from vegetable and oat soup to a mixed vegetable kurma to a vegetable maqluba, which usually contains meat but in this book is made from aubergine, peppers and cauliflower. There are also recipes for dips like hummus and moutabel, along with a wonderful section on breakfast foods. Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day and these recipes look glorious: roti with paneer and spinach is something I would quite happily eat every morning for the rest of my life, and I am intrigued by balaleet, which is vermicelli cooked in sugar syrup, flavoured with cinnamon, and then added to a cardamom-scented omelette.

The recipes in this book are lovely, full of flavours that make me excited to experiment in the kitchen and to try foods and ingredients that are new to me, but what makes them really special is that they look doable. There’s an introduction from Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, Masterchef winner, in which she explains the two festivals of Eid and the importance of fragrance, an understanding of spice, and a love for fresh herbs and locally sourced ingredients in Islamic culinary traditions. Alongside the recipes, there is information about the meaning of Eid, how to lay a table for it, and the traditions surrounding the festivals. It demonstrates that food is not just food: it means love, it means family, it means culture – and no matter your cooking skill or what background you come from, this book will make you feel part of it.