This past Sunday was my son’s (Hasan’s) aqiqah, an Islamic tradition wherein a family celebrates the arrival of new progeny with the sacrifice of an animal (one goat for a daughter, two for a son). Unlike birthdays or weddings, there aren’t a ton of customs to follow. The feast following the sacrifice isn’t widely observed, at least not in the Muslim community I grew up in. In fact the first aqiqah that I’d been to was my own daughter’s. This poses the thoroughly enjoyable challenge of creating one’s owns customs.
Menu Planning. First and foremost, who is my audience? Banglus. Don’t try to pass around beautiful, fresh tasting hors d’oeuvres. We are used to having our palates on fire. We even drink spicy lassis for goodness sake, to wash down our biryani. To start, I served my Lima Apa’s chatpati.
Chatpati is one of the great Bengali street foods. Dried white peas (or white vatana) are slow simmered in a spicy broth, then served with fresh diced tomato, onion, thai chili, cucumber, cilantro, hard boiled egg, potato chips and tamarind juice. I don’t know what her secret is…I’ve had many a bland chapati. But hers is perfectly salty, spicy, sweet and tart all at the same time. I have a feeling Shan might have something to do with it =)
On to the main course: salad and balsamic roast chicken got duped in this picture. But, that’s ok. The main attractions were the goat curries, done two ways. One is a spicy, traditional method (thanks to Hasan’s paternal grandmother) the other is a sweeter curry, made with yogurt, raisins and almonds (thanks to his maternal grandma). Then there was the mixed vegetable sauté. And the rice pilaf (palau). Don’t forget the naan and raw onions & thai chilis. Even with this spread, it wasn’t the most abundant I’d seen at some Bengali parties.
Sweet. Since the main courses were generously taken care of by relatives, I got to go all out on dessert (which is great since I really DO NOT care for bengali desserts). Fleur de sel caramels as party favors. Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream for the kids (I was less than impressed by the buttercream…the white chocolate did not shine through all the butter and confectioner’s sugar). Paula’s pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting (something seasonal), which were a huge hit! And finally, for the banglus, including my husband, a caramel-less flan (dubbed egg pudding by the banglus).
Despite the near chaos of cramming 30 some odd people into our cozy junior 4 apartment, a good time, and a good meal was had by all.
How to. Here is the recipe for the pudding. Adapted from Allrecipes.com.
- 3 eggs
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12 fl. oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place a nonstick 9 in round baking dish within a larger oven proof pan (such as a 9x13x2 glass tray).
- In a large bowl, beat eggs. Beat in condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Pour egg mixture into the round 9 in nonstick baking dish.
- Pour warm water into the larger dish so that it comes up about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch up the side of the pudding pan. Carefully transfer the whole thing to a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
- Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes. Let cool completely.