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Shabana Azmi talks about the grand Eid spread she enjoyed over the years

Exclusive: Shabana Azmi talks about the grand Eid spread she enjoyed over the years
I grew up in a family that was not religious but placed great value on India’s composite culture and embraced its pluralism. All festivals were celebrated with much fanfare. Holi, Diwali, Eid and Christmas. It was an open house as people dropped in at different times. There was sheer korma, dahi wadas, Rooh afza and khus (flavoured milk drinks) being served through the day. The paandaan was brought out especially. No alcohol was served. Lunch on Eid was standard fare. Hyderabadi biryani, shaami kebab, baghare baingan, fried dahiwali mirchi and green chilli ki chutney – all cooked by my mother (Shaukat Azmi) helped by our fabulous cook Yusuf miyan.

Preparing sheer korma was a stressful affair because vast quantities were made, which required careful browning of the sevaiyan. The milk used to be bought the previous evening and there was never enough place in the fridge to store it. Added to that the tension of whether the moon was going to be sighted or not! All of us used to sit with mom and finely cut the pistas, badams and chironji (cuddapah almond) for the sheer korma, making sure the knives were not smelling of onion! I’d tire of it soon and quickly put mehendi on my hands to be spared from the cutting and chopping!

We had to wear new clothes – the only thing Abba (Kaifi Azmi) insisted on and the special joodas of bangles got from Hyderabad. Eidi was something we looked forward to… crisp notes of one or two rupees were given to children by most guests. Zul Vellani (actor/director) used to give us ` 20 and Baba (Azmi), my brother, and I would swoon with joy.

Today the tradition continues. But the hectic activity has reduced. Lunch is elaborate and generic. People come on invitation. But I still pull out my gharara and enjoy dressing up. I miss the informality of the Eid that we enjoyed in childhood.

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