Celebrating Eid: The Seafood Story

The month of rigorous fasting ends in a celebration featuring rich desserts like Sheer Khorma (vermicelli and milk pudding), and a big feast. Families and friends gather round sharing hugs and gifts. The day is spent in thanksgiving for having successfully completed Ramadan, and is called Eid al-Fitr or the Festival of Fast-Breaking.
While meat dishes are more common for an Eid feast, many nations and cultures around the world celebrate with seafood. Here are six recipes that you can easily cook up at home and share with friends and family for this festival of happiness and gratitude.
1. Moroccan seafood bastilla 
A seafood bastilla features a mix of delicious seafood in a flaky pastry and is a popular dish in Morocco.
Also called pastilla, a bastilla is a rich Moroccan meat pie that brings together savoury meat ensconced in a flaky phyllo-like pastry shell which is topped with toasted almonds and sugar and spices. Talk about sweet and salty! This seafood version uses a mix of fish sautéed individually and bean thread noodles cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, combined together and topped with cheese. All of these are layered with a flaky warqa on the bottom and top that goes into the oven and comes out glistening with butter and egg wash. You can also choose to top yours with grated cheese and broil the pie for a minute, until the cheese melts. Slice and serve hot.
2. Masgouf – Iraqi Grilled Fish
Masgouf is the technique of grilling carp on a wood fire; the dish is considered to be the national dish of Iraq
Masgouf, considered to be the national dish of Iraq, will have a different recipe depending on where you’re looking. Some call for the most basic of ingredients, while others easily list at least ten essentials. This one from Hissing Cooker is sort of middle of the road; it has all the Masgouf basics like tamarind, turmeric and olive oil, with a spinach and pomegranate salad to go along. While the traditionally cooked dish may sometimes take up to three hours to cook, this one has precise instructions to finish the job in 30 minutes. After all, who wants to slave all of their waking hours away on a day of gaiety and celebration? Feel free to bring out the grill for this, and use a whole black pomfret or Himalayan trout, if you can’t find whole carp.
3. Middle Eastern Samak Eish- Fish Pilaf
The gorgeous Samak Eish from the Middle East is scented with lemon and dried limes, along with other spices.
This delicately-flavoured rice and fish pilaf is as celebratory as it looks, and demands the freshest of firm, white fish you can find. Just enough spices to give it that Middle Eastern scented whiff, and just the right bit of tomato paste and bits to balance the sweet onion and spices make this a great example of the sometimes-elusive ‘balance in cooking’. The dried limes are a signature Mediterranean touch; if you absolute can’t find them, grate in a little lemon zest. Look for good surmai or barracuda steaks, if you can’t find hammour. Serve garnished with fresh coriander and scallions.
4. Nigerian Seafood Okro
A Nigerian seafood Okro packs in a mix of fish and shellfish with a good hit of chilli and spices.
Seafood, okra, onions, garlic—these ingredients together may remind you of a basic Louisianian gumbo, but add lots of chilli peppers (or as much as you can handle), and you’ve got the makings of a seafood Okro. A stew that most Nigerians hold dear, this is great for mains with yam or plaintains, or even by itself as an entrée. A mix of seafood is requisite; you’re looking at anything from prawns, crab and lobster to fish chunks. Don’t skimp on the okra either—it works as a thickener and adds flavour too.
5. Pakistani Fish Broast
A Pakistani broast has fish in a tasty batter fried to a crisp.
While the word broast‘ may connote a combination of broiling and roasting the world over, in Pakistani recipes it alludes to marinating and dipping meat or fish in a flavourful batter and deep frying. Whether done with a cleaned whole fish or steaks, this Southeast-meets-Far East-style fried fish has Indian spices like turmeric, chilli with a Chinese influenced soy sauce- and white pepper-flavoured batter, sometimes with a dash of ketchup. The ginger garlic component, common to both cuisines, bridge the flavour points. Perfect for rainy weather, this can be made with sturdy swordfish or bhetki.
6. Persian Sabzi Polow Mahi
Sabzi Polow Mahi from Persia is a colourful, delicately spiced fish and rice platter that will light up your feast table.
A Persian staple for Nooroz (Navroze as we call it in India), this dish works equally well to share the warm cheer of Eid. With hearty rice and fish, this dish makes for a complete meal, but is a great change from the usual spice-laden biryani. Chockfull of herbs like dill, chives, parsley and coriander, this pilaf packs in a lot of freshness, with the delicately cooked tilapia rounding off the harmony of gentle flavours. The saffron, signature of most Persian recipes, adds warm colour and sweet flavour to the fried fish, and can be mixed with some of the cooked rice to make for a colourful platter. Serve with a simple cucumber salad—a great travel companion on the freshness journey.
With a decadent Sheer Khorma for dessert, your Eid feast this year will be a memorable affair for the years to come. This is the magic of breaking beautiful bread with your loved ones around a laden table.

About the Author
An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

Image Credit: Cover
Image Credit: Moroccan seafood bastilla
Image Credit: Masgouf
Image Credit: Middle Eastern Samak Eish
Image Credit: Nigerian Seafood Okro
Image Credit: Pakistani Fish Broast
Image Credit: Persian Sabzi Polow Mahi

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