I have been reminiscing about how we spent a typical Cape Malay Eid during my childhood when my parents were alive. Eid has not been the same since my parents passed, and we are slowly making new family traditions for a Cape Malay Eid without them.
It is hard to believe that Ramadhan is nearly at an end and Eid Al Fitr beckons to the faithful, to observe the charity and celebrate the end of the month of fasting with family, neighbours and friends.
What is Eid Al Fitr?
Eid Al Fitr is celebrated by Muslims around the world on the first day of the month of Shawwal and marks the end of the month of fasting during Ramadhan. How awesome is it that a billion souls observed a month long fast in order to please our Creator and attain righteousness?
The month of Ramadhan is a period of purification during which we throw off the shackles of our sinfulness and engage in worship, righteous deeds and charitable acts.
It is obligatory for every muslim to pay the charity or Zakat al Fitr one or two days before Eid. This charity is due on behalf of themselves and any dependants on whose maintenance they are obliged to spend.
Cape Malay Eid Preparations
We moved to our current family home in May 1977 (I think), and it is there where all my Ramadhan and Eid memories seem to be.
During the last week of Ramadhan, everyone in our neighbourhood became more focussed on preparations for Eid. From spring cleaning homes from top to bottom, to changing curtains, washing carpets and occasionally even getting new furniture or having old furniture re-upholstered. When I was younger, my Uncle Vincent always came to paint our house every year before Eid.
My parents always took us shopping for new clothes in the week before Eid, and as children it was something my brother and I looked forward to. As we grew older though, we would spend a few hours in different shops, before finding something that we could all agree on. I remember being very bored with clothes shopping as a teenager, and was overjoyed when Mummy Rachel would make a selection instead from the ranges in the factory shop at TEJ.
Read more: Cape Malay Recipes and Food Customs
Our Eid routine
On Eid morning my father and brother always left home very early to go for Eid prayer at the Al Azhar mosque in Aspeling Street, Cape Town. As a young child and adolescent all that was required of me on Eid morning was to wake up and get prettified, BEFORE the neighbours came to greet us after Eid prayer.
I never asked why my mother and I weren’t invited along, as I was too happy for the extra sleep time. Eventually I would drag myself out of bed to have a shower, and then my mother would blow dry my hair and make sure I was presentable by the time the neighbours stopped by.
My mother always laid the dining room table with cupcakes, pastries, cookies, fruit cake, chocolates, cashew nuts and stalk raisins, chocolate covered brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds and candy covered almonds. On the coffee table she would serve the visiting neighbours with beverages, chicken or steak hand pies, finger sandwiches and puff pastry squares with fresh cream and strawberry jam.
During the course of the morning we had scores of the neighbourhood children coming through the doors to pass Eid greetings and have some snacks. Before they left, each one received a small gift of money, which more often than not resulted in return visitors. Although many of the children were Muslim, many of them were not, but my mother welcomed everyone equally.
While all this activity was going on during the course of the day, my mother, her sisters and Katriena were also cooking for the evening dinner gathering. My mother’s siblings and their families, as well as my father’s nephews and nieces and an assortment of my parents’ friends were regular dinner guests at Eid.
My mother never liked serving guests days old food and the only thing that she ever cooked the day before was the corned beef and corned tongue, so that they could chill for easier slicing.
My father and brother usually returned from their rounds before lunch time and collected me so that we could have lunch at my Aunty Gadija’s house, down the road. Until the year before his death, he never ate Eid lunch at our house, always with Aunty Dija and her family. Even when Eid was on a Sunday and he told my mum to invite everyone for lunch, my father still went to have lunch at Aunty Dija’s house. It would not have been Eid for him otherwise.
After lunch we would then visit my father’s sisters and brothers who lived in different parts of the city. When we finally reached home in the early evening it would be time for dinner at our house.
On the Cape Malay Eid table
In every home there was the pastry making and baking for Eid… Before homemade pastry was available for purchase at certain stores, my mother and her friends used to make it themselves. The puff pastry was used for Chicken and Mushroom pie, Jam and Coconut tarts and Cream filled horns. They made a flaky pastry for Cape Malay Pepper Steak pie,
My mother (and her lazy apprentice mini-Me) also made Spiced Boiled Fruit Cake, Chocolate Chunk Pecan cookies, Pecan Snowball cookies, cupcakes, eclairs and sponge cakes baked for the trifle. In later years I made a variety of cakes and cookies for sale and home.
My grandparents neighbours from Harfield Village, Mrs. Moodie and her husband, always arrived first on Eid morning because Mrs. Moodie wanted to help my mum with the cooking. Even after Mr. Moodie passed away she still came until she herself was too ill to get out of bed.
Mummy Rachel made her lasagna on Eid morning, as well as Chocolate cake and her Cheesecake. You can try my Chocolate Cake with ganache recipe if you love a deliciously moist cake or this Carrot and Beetroot cake if you love something different.
Aunty Josie brought her Crunchies, Milk tart and Pineapple tart and occasionally she cooked the corned meats. Aunty Betty made the loveliest French tartlets, and after she passed my cousin Rene would bring eclairs. Aunty Doreen was always there to assist my mother with the preparation and often made her Apricot cheesecake.
In my teens I started making the cakes and desserts while my mother and her motley crew were preparing the dinner. These usually included Peppermint Crisp Caramel mousse, Whipped Yogurt mousse and trifle. In addition, my mother always made a fresh fruit salad.
For dinner my mother had the tables laid out with enough food to serve a small army. Savory rice and peri-prawns were a must have… there was also usually roast beef with mushroom sauce, roast leg of lamb with potatoes and sweet potatoes, lasagna, corned beef and corned tongue, roast chicken, crumbed chops, large steak and kidney or chicken pies, lamb or chicken curry (or crayfish curry if it was in season) and akhni or biryani in Winter. In addition there were always roasted vegetables, salads, sweet yellow rice and condiments.
This recipe roundup for Eid cookies, cakes and desserts recipes from food bloggers around the world, was curated especially for the bakers who are planning their Eid festivities during the final week of Ramadhan.
Celebrate Eid with family and friends by sharing these delicious cookies, cakes and desserts from foodies around the world. For these delicious recipes please click to find 30 Incredibly Mouth-Watering Cookies, Cakes And Desserts To Have On Your Table For Eid.
Eid without loved ones
After my father passed away, Eid became a much more subdued affair. My mother still went through the motions, but she was saddened by the fact that my father’s relatives had all but forgotten her. Many would drive past our house to Aunty Dija’s house down the road, and not even bother to drop in to greet my mother for Eid.
It took many years after my mother’s passing for us to have a traditional Cape Malay Eid at home with my maternal cousins and aunt. During those intervening years we spent every Eid with my sister in law’s family because her mother became like my mother. Now that Aunty Tiema too has passed, Eid will be even sadder.
The past few months have been spent under lockdown in many parts of the world. I pray that you and your families are safe and that even during the Eid holidays you will exercise caution and maintain social distancing with anyone outside of your immediate family home.
Another Ramadhan is at an end and Eid al Fitr is nearly upon us. I pray that Allah accepts our worship and that we remember the lessons learnt during the blessed month.
EID MUBARAK TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES
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This was first published on 05/06/2016 has since and been updated.