The Hubster and I grew up in houses with robust Eid traditions. Come Eid morning, my mom would force my younger brother and I into itchy new shalwar kameezes, wrangle our unruly hair into some form of submission, and make us visit various relatives and friends. The only saving grace was the Eidi, or envelopes of money us poor kids received from the grownups (along with sloppy kisses and far too many cheek pinchings). Oh, and the dessert tables, of course.And while others went straight for the cookies, I hurriedly ladled massive quantities of Sheer Khurma, a luxuriously creamy milk pudding dotted with vermicelli, into my bowl.
The Hubster, on the other hand, grew up with Eids that started with a donut feast for breakfast followed by a huge open house for friends and family where the star attraction was a giant crockpot filled with fake cheese for make-your-own-nachos. Even now, when he gets together with childhood friends, they talk about that nacho bar longingly.
I'm not sure when or how it happened, but over time, we lost many of our Eid traditions. Not all at once but gradually. We were too busy, too tired, too something. First the coordinated visits to friends and family became one visit to a community fair where we were bound to see at least some friends and family. Then, the special Eid outfits were abandoned for any outfit that was already ironed. And then sadly, the desserts got cut because well, we were trying to be healthy. Eid somehow became less important. Heck last year on Eid, I went to work. We were in a particularly busy season and I just couldn't take a day off. Or so I told myself.
And then, Little Man came along. And we realized that we owed him the donut feasts, itchy outfits, and most importantly, the Eid desserts. But we'd do it next year, we told ourselves. The Hubster's parents were on vacation and mine live in another country. Except Little Man needed to celebrate Eid this year. We considered crashing an Eid party at a friend's house but in all honesty, we kinda needed to start building our own Eid traditions. So this year, after many years, we did it all. I made Sheer Khurma at midnight. The Hubster got up early to get our donuts. And we forced Little Man into an outfit he didn't want to wear (and yes, we busted out the most tried and true parenting tactic, candy bribery).
And so, we visited friends and family, we hugged and pinched random little kids (and giggled because our time had come), and doled out Eidi envelopes. And mid-day, when families all over the world got together over samosas and biryani, we had Smashburger. And napped. And when we got up, we all shared another giant bowl of Sheer Khurma. And I use the term "share" loosely here because Little Man definitely ate at least three quarters of the bowl.
So, let's talk about Sheer Khurma. Sheer Khurma is pretty much the eptiome of Eid. If you visit someone over Eid, it's almost blasphemous if they don't serve you a bowl of the creamy pudding, loaded with vermicelli and a random assortment of dried fruit and nuts. Your family likely has an uber secret recipe that you've sworn to protect. Even if you don't have a recipe, you most likely have a strong opinion about what Sheer Khurma should and more importantly, should not contain. I'm a bit of a purist so my Sheer Khurma doesn't have any heavy cream, evaporated or condensed milk. Whole milk, sugar, a bit of butter, and vermicelli (trust me, it only sounds weird) are really the only things you need.
Oh, and Eid? I'm sorry we were so lame for the last few years but we plan to make it up to you in the next few. That means lots of donuts, lots of cheek pinching, and of course, lots of Sheer Khurma. Eid Mubarak, y'all!
100 grams of toasted vermicelli noodles (sold in Pakistani and Indian stores under brand names like Shan and Ahmed)
2 tbs. unsalted butter
4 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Tiny pinch of saffron threads
Various toppings such as toasted almonds, raisins, pistachios, dates, and shredded coconut
Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Break vermicelli noodles into small pieces and add to the melted butter. Toast until the noodles are golden and smell nutty. Add 2 cups of milk and all of the sugar. Cook on low heat, stirring regularly so the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Over time (20 minutes or so), the milk will thicken. Add another cup of milk and allow it to thicken again. While the pudding is cooking, soak the saffron threads in the last cup of milk. Add to the pot and thicken. The finished pudding should have a thick milkshake consistency.
Serve warm or cold. Top with your favorite toppings right before serving.