For most people, especially kids, Eid ul Fitr is the fun Eid; lots of family, friends, sweet treats and Eidi. For us, growing up, it was the other way around.
When we moved to Defence, Lahore, we were practically the only ones there. The few neighbors we did have went off to their relatives, family villages or ancestral homes to celebrate Eid. Being migrants from Peshawar, we didn’t have any relatives in Lahore, except for our Aunt who lived next door. Since my parents liked to spend any free time they had after work with each other instead of socializing, there weren’t a lot of friends to visit either.
Basically, after Eid Salat and breakfast, we watched some ‘ranga rang’ shows on PTV together with back to back Guy Soap and Lado Sabun ads and went back to sleep.
Eid al Adha was where all the action was! My cousins and I really looked forward to my father buying the goat/goats. Usually, this was late the night before Eid. We would be waiting in excitement for the pickup truck to arrive with the animals. Then, there would be the story about how my father had found the perfect goat! My father always looked for the younger goat that had two teeth so that the meat would be tender. But the sellers were known to pull out the teeth of older goats to be able to pass them off as younger ones and get a better price for them. Then of course, there was the haggling and negotiations over price. My father having experience of all the tricks since the age of sixteen when he started buying goats for Eid did bring home animals that did him credit.
The few hours we had with the animals, was the closest thing we had to a pet! We would slowly build up the courage to pet the goats, then we would take them around the block for a walk and feed them, really enjoying looking after them.
Overnight, inevitably, the goats would break loose or chew threw the rope they were tied up with, and spend all night running around the house. They would eat all the plants in the lawn and their droppings would be scattered everywhere in the morning.
But this was nothing compared to an incident once at my aunt’s house in Peshawar that had us in stitches- they bought a cow for slaughter, and tied it to a drain pipe for the night. The cow tried to break free for a while before it succeeded, pulling loose the drain pipe as well! All the noise and din frightened the cow and it started running, with the drain pipe still tied to the rope around its neck! The more it ran, the more the pipe clattered and the more confused the poor thing got. So it ran and ran around the house, causing havoc in the middle of the night, with people climbing up walls trying to jump it, the cow in a frenzy banging up the walls, doors and windows around the house. It attacked everyone that came near, and eventually the disturbed neighbors called the police! The policemen ordered the cow to halt but the cow like all rebels spurned the order! Mercifully, the halter rope wound around an electricity pole in the front lawn and stopped the cow in its tracks.
Coming back to our own goat story; the next morning the biggest issue would be finding a butcher. Because there could never be enough butchers to be able to meet the demand on the day of Eid, all carpenters, plumbers and masons claimed to be a butcher to earn an extra buck. The end result being that sometimes you wound up with someone who had no idea what he was doing, and ended up either injuring himself, or cutting the meat into rags.
Now the real fun started! As the meat was cut and divided to be distributed, my mom started cooking! First to come was the liver sautéed in salt and pepper, with a touch of lemon squeezed on top. Then we usually hosted a lunch for our Aunt’s family, so a number of meat dishes, including Phaipra (my favorite) were made with kidneys, heart and what not.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and it just seemed like a party with all the cooking and all the food. For quite a few years I liked to go to all the neighbors’ to distribute the meat too. What a fun-filled activity day!
Things are a bit different here in the US, but we can still celebrate the spirit of this Eid by making meat, meat and more meat! This is the perfect day for a roast leg of lamb or goat. It’s unbelievably easy to make, and makes an impressive and delicious meal.
The leg that I used for this recipe was about 3-3.5 pounds, quite small as far as legs go. In such a case, get 2. It is better to get the front quarters, as the meat is more tender and juicy. The cooking time will vary a lot, depending on the size of the leg and how old the animal was.
I would recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to take the guesswork out of when it will be done. I like it well done, properly cooked through and no pinkness! This is reached at 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit (about 75 degrees Celsius). For rare meat, the temperature should be 135 degrees, and for medium, 160 degrees.
Roast leg of lamb or goat
1 leg of lamb/goat, about 3.5 pounds (lamb has a certain flavorful aroma)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp heaped coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilies
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp meat tenderizer
Juice of 1.5 lemons
- Make cuts into the meat and marinate in the above ingredients for 1-2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Put the meat and all the juices into a roasting pan or oven proof dish. Add 1/2 a cup of water and vegetables of your choice, like potatoes, peas, onions and carrots.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
- Check on the hour. Baste.
- The internal temperature should reach between 165 and 170 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. When it reaches close to that temperature, uncover and return to the oven. Baste every 15 minutes until the meat is done. Uncovering the meat in the last 1/2 hour or so will give it a nicely browned crust.
- Take out of the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Reserve some of the liquid in the roasting pan to pour over the meat and use the rest to make the gravy.
- Place the leg on a platter and arrange the vegetables around it. Pour the reserved liquid over it and serve hot with your favorite sides.
It took mine about 2 and a half-hours to cook.
Again, the cooking time will vary a great deal. I like to cook on 300 degrees for a slow roasted taste. If the leg is 4 pounds or larger; then increase the temperature to 350 degrees and increase the water to 1 cup.
If you are not sure about how much salt to use for the marinade, then simply sprinkle some evenly over both sides of the meat. That should be about enough. The same is true for all the spices that you will be using. If you are not sure about how much to use for the size of meat that you have, then just sprinkle them evenly on both sides of the meat.
This does not apply to the tenderizer! Too much meat tenderizer will completely break down the meat and make it ‘mushy;’ it will lose its texture. Sprinkle the tenderizer sparingly.
If your roast got done well before dinner, then turn the oven to warm, cover the roast tightly with foil and put it in the oven. Baste every half an hour until it is time to serve. The roast will not get dry.
If, during roasting, the water dries out, just add more.
If you feel there is too much water left in the pan and the roast is done, then just reserve some to pour over the meat, and use the rest for the gravy.
I served mine with some duchess potatoes (first attempt at making these- not perfect swirls but tasted phenomenal!), gravy, an asparagus-beet salad and a cilantro-mint chutney.
I use all the juices in the pan to make the gravy:
I make a dark roux with 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of flour. Then I slowly whisk in the juices and some water if needed and simmer until it thickens and adjust the seasoning.
3 large red potatoes OR 2 large russet potatoes
2 tbsp butter + a little more melted butter for brushing
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes until very tender. Peel and mash them until they are completely smooth and have a uniform texture. Add the butter, cream, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Do not over mash or they will become gluey. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1M or larger star tip and pipe pretty mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Carefully, lightly brush with melted butter. Bake in a preheated 425 degrees (220 Celsius) oven for about 5-7 minutes until they just start to turn golden brown.
There were no leftovers.
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