Thursday, October 17, 2013

Finding My Way Back to Eid and Sheer Khurma

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!

Sheer Khurma

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.


  1. I think this is where our differences are most apparent. I have no idea what Eid is. Care to give a woman a lesson? The dessert, however, looks amazing.

  2. Yes little man does need to see you observing your traditions. A nacho bar and donuts, why didn't I grow up in a house like that. I've never seem this pudding, but I know I need to try it. I love hearing about other peoples traditions, I always learn something.

  3. The Mom Chef, here's my CliffsNotes explanation. Eid is a major Muslim holiday that comes around twice a year (at the end of Ramadan, and then again about two months later). Families celebrate the holiday in different ways. Ours happens to involve donuts and nachos (like most celebrations in our lives) :)

  4. Ahhh, so glad to see you making your own traditions. This post resonates with me on so many levels. the traditions we dropped all came racing back once our little girl was born. Once we were now a real family and we had to make some memories for her. I love Sheer Kurma, one of my favorite desserts. We never made it at home for eid, always had our muslim friends sending so much of it over. I miss those days ..sigh.

  5. These are wonderful traditions...They are fun and filled with family and friends. Continue to embrace and share these traditions with your little one. Love it.



  6. It's such a pleasure to read about your family's traditions! I actually Googled Eid and learned. I am now enjoying passing on some of my traditions to my little granddaughter. All I can say is to hang on to every moment with your son because it all goes so fast!

  7. Yuuuummy yum yum. This sounds very similar (if not exact!) to Payasam or Kheer! Kheer usually being made with just rice and in North Indian and Payasam the Southie variety with the vermicelli. This instantly reminds me of pujas and religious holidays in our house and my mom making it along with carrot halwa. I love reading and hearing about your family traditions! <3

  8. Such a sweet, sweet post. I can so relate! I think that the last two Eids have been relatively uneventful. Especially since we moved to NY and know no Muslim people here! I will make more of an effort because Maya will definitely miss out if I don't.

    The donut thing is so funny. Not sure where that tradition came from but we had the same thing growing up. And the itchy outfits too!

    Have a great weekend my friend.

  9. SO, that's where the tradition comes cool.
    Sheera is such a festive dish and sings of happinesss. Hope you had a great time on Eid. Love reading your post. Happy weekend girl.

  10. I was so confused throughout a lot of this because I was pretty sure Eid already happened! But I didn't realize it was twice a year. I am SO up for traditions that involve good food. This sheer khurma sounds fabulous.

  11. Traditions truly are dying out... It's great that you're trying to keep them alive, and really, when sheer is part of the celebration, is there any reason not to?

  12. just love sher khurma :) i like ur presentation too quite good :)


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