5 easy beef dishes everyone can make this Eid

It is that time of the year again when our fridges are hopefully stocked with months’ worth of beef. This means many daily meals of the lovely ‘bhuna mangsho’. For breakfast, lunch, dinner and for afternoon snacks. Some say that there cannot be too much of a good thing, however, after 10 days of traditional beef stew and bhuna, one can’t help but wish for other ways to eat beef.

Explore other cuisines and amaze your family and friends with your culinary creativity. So, here are some simple yet thoughtful dishes you can make with all that beef/mutton and earn some points with those snarky relatives you try so hard to avoid.

1. Chilli Beef

This is a foolproof dish for the main course any day! 

Prep time: 5 mins; Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • Beef: 400 gms
  • Soy sauce: 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
  • Chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Tomato sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Crushed pepper: 3/4 tsp
  • Onions: 2, cubed
  • Capsicum: half, cubed
  • Ginger: 1/2 inch, sliced
  • Garlic: 6 cloves, sliced
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Cornflour: 1 tsp
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Salt and extra pepper to taste
  • Chopped green onions are optional (for garnish)

Instructions:

Cut the beef into thin strips. Add oil in the pan and brown the beef with some salt and pepper and then add 1 tbsp soy sauce.

Heat a wok or a pan with 1 tbsp oil and add in sliced garlic, ginger, green chillies, and onions. Stir fry for two mins and transfer to a plate. Then stir fry the cubed capsicum for a min or two. Add in a fat pinch of salt and pepper and then toss it around and transfer to a plate.

Add in 1 tbsp oil and then add in the cooked beef. Once the beef is heated through, stir fry for a minute and then push the beef to a side. Into the oil, add in 1 tsp chilli powder, mix it well and allow it to get roasted lightly so that the raw flavour diminishes. Remember to put the flame on low.

Add in the tomato sauce, the remaining soy sauce, and 3/4 tsp crushed pepper. Then add in the stir-fried onions and capsicum; sprinkle some salt and pepper.

Make a corn slurry by mixing the cornflour with water and Add it to the curry, it’ll take a minute to thicken up. Allow it to simmer for a minute and then garnish with chopped spring onions and switch off the flame.

2. Spaghetti Bolognese

A classic Italian dish we all love getting at restaurants these days. It’s actually not that hard to make and tastes even better made at home, with love. 

Prep time: 10 minutes; Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g beef mince
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp of ginger paste
  • 1 tsp of crushed black pepper
  • One medium-sized carrot, grated
  • About 6 chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil)
  • 400ml stock or water 
  • 400g spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and once hot add the beef mince and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the mince until well browned and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the saucepan you browned the mince in and turn the heat to medium. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and fry gently for 5-6 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the grated carrot then pour the mince and any juices in the bowl back into the saucepan. Add the Italian herbs and black pepper.

Add the tomatoes to the pan. Pour in the stock/water, bring to a simmer and then reduce the temperature to simmer gently for 45 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and rich. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

When ready to cook the spaghetti, heat a large saucepan of water and add a generous helping of salt and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Once the spaghetti is cooked through, drain and add to the pan with the Bolognese sauce. Mix well and serve.

3. Seekh Kebab

Make this if you don’t want the usual ‘pulao-gost’ but still want to keep things traditional.

Prep time: 10 mins; Cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 500 Grams Minced Meat Beef/mutton
  • 4 Green Chilis 
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Coriander Chopped
  • 1 Medium Size Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger and Garlic Paste
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ Tsp Chilli Flakes
  • ½ Tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • ½ Tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ Tsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ Tsp Coriander Powder

Instructions:

Add green chillies, fresh coriander and minced beef to a food processor/blender and process until just combined (don’t turn it into a very smooth paste). Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Grate one medium-size onion, then squeeze the water out completely (otherwise there will be too much moisture in your beef and they will fall off the skewethen add it to your beef.

Then add the garlic-ginger paste and all the seasonings to the meat and mix everything using your hand until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the meat mixture for at least 1-2 hours to marinate.

To form the kebabs, first, wet your hand with water so the mixture doesn’t stick to your hand, then scoop out a medium size ball of the meat mixture and pierce it through a wooden skewer, then spread the meat on the skewer with your hand. Starting from the top push down on the meat, press your middle finger in a diagonal angle down the beef skewer to make the signature grooves on the kebab. Repeat the process on both sides until you get the desired shape.

Heat your pan/skillet over medium heat, then brush the pan with a little cooking oil.

Add the kebabs to the pan and cook, flipping them to brown all around. (3-4 minutes on each side). Also, brush the kebabs with oil while cooking, if necessary. You can cook 4-5 kebabs at a time, depending on the size of your pan.

Serve them with naan/paratha. This recipe makes 8-10 medium-sized kebabs.

4. Beef Poutine

Canadians have ruined French fries and we love it! Poutine is essentially fries with gravy and cheese curds and if made right at home, you won’t have to go and buy those peasant cheese fries that restaurants try to pass off as poutine these days.

Prep time: 10 minutes; Cooking time: Around 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds boneless beef, chopped to bite-sized pieces
  • 2.5 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup diced onions 
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
  • 4 cups of water
  • Half a cup of cheese curds or shredded cheese
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika to taste

Instructions:

Add a pan over high heat and add oil. Add the chopped meat and cook until browned. 

Add butter, onions, salt, pepper and paprika to taste and cook until onions are golden brown. Add the flour and cook it off for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. 

Add water and Worcestershire sauce and cook on medium-high heat until meat is tender and gravy is thick. 

Make your standard fries or go buy a pack of frozen fries (we won’t judge). Since cheese curds are almost impossible to find in Bangladesh, some shredded mozzarella or paneer works just fine in this recipe. Spread cheese over the fries and slather everything in the luxurious beef gravy you just made.

5. Keema Samosa

Make this classic afternoon snack for your family this eid. They will like you more.

Ingredients:

  • Oil 1-2 tbs
  • Beef/mutton mince 250 gm
  • Ginger garlic paste) 1 & ½ tbs
  • Green chillies, chopped 3-4
  • Coriander powder ½ tbs
  • Red chilli powder, 1 tsp or to taste
  • Chilli flakes crushed ½ tbs
  • Crushed cumin seeds, ½ tbs
  • Fresh coriander, chopped ½ Cup
  • Onion, chopped 200 gms
  • All-purpose flour, 2 tbs
  • Water 1 tbs or as required
  • Samosa wrappers (frozen)

Instructions:

In a pan over medium-high heat, add oil, minced meat and mix well until changes color.

Add ginger-garlic paste, and all seasoning powders and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add fresh coriander, onions and cook for 2 minutes. Let it cool down.

In a small bowl, add all-purpose flour, water and mix well to make a smooth paste & set aside.

Take samosa wrappers and make triangular pockets, add filling in the center and roll into the shape of samosa and seal corners with all-purpose flour & water paste. Repeat to make 15-16 samosas and fry until golden brown. Serve with ketchup or chutney.

Experiment, explore and use this free time learning how to cook these simple but delicious recipes of different cuisines so that you can eat more! Eid is the time to come together as a family and appreciate the gifts. Eid Mubarak!

Your guide to asking your koshai for different cuts of beef for steak

Eid al Adha, the festival of sacrifice, is about communities coming together, about solidarity with those in Hajj, about charity and so much more for Muslims around the world. The day commemorates the story of Ibrahim and his test of faith. For many, an integral part of the festivities is to cut meat, distribute some, prepare some and share meals. In that process, many families work with butchers or koshais. Practice is for the butcher to cut the meat into cubes. One can have an understanding of some of the different cuts of meat and guide the butcher into cutting out the pieces in specific ways for different preparations.

There are different cuts

The cow is initially divided into its big parts or primal cuts. Your butcher already has a system, so to avoid overwhelming yourself or him, choose the one cut that you want to work with and show that part. The degree of success will depend on the expertise of the butcher. This is also very difficult to explain in one go and there are many religious traditions mixed into the process.

However, if you want to take on the challenge, one of the better cuts of meat for steak to refer to, is tenderloin.

The loin is located at the top of the steer directly behind the rib, and since it’s not a heavily used muscle, it’s very tender.

Some Bangladeshi professional koshais refer to tenderloin meat as undercut. This is the portion under the spine or merudondo. The sirloin cuts are leaner cuts and best for grilling, skillet and stir fry. In general, the center has more tender cuts. because beef gets more tender as the distance from horn and hoof increases.
Another cut that is easier to access but is diverse in taste and texture is from under the shoulder of the cow. This area is referred to as the chuck in the chart below. The chuck is rich and flavorful and good for ground beef. The ribs are fatty and tender and harder to cut out in the first try.

2. Use the chart of cuts

A way to gain familiarity on the different cuts is to study the butcher’s chart.

3. Learn and explain using a video

Sometimes things are best explained by video. This video does an excellent job of going through each cut. It is not for the squeamish, but you can pick exactly which cut you want for your cooking needs and show only that part to your butcher.

Enjoy learning more about the process, the different ways to prepare and share the abundances. Remember to count your blessings and reflect on the day. Have a blessed Eid.

To Eid or not to Eid?

By the time you’re reading this, the suspense regarding moon sighting last night should not be a news of surprise to anyone. The National Moon Sighting Committee (whatever their purpose may be) has literally one job to do and people who celebrate Eid cannot trust them to do even that one right. That brings us to question the entire stunt of moon sighting. How did it come to be? How logical are the old methods and what do science and common sense say? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What is a new moon?

Not a Twilight movie. A new moon is a common astronomical phenomenon that takes place periodically in a process known as the moon cycle. A new moon occurs, after a complete cycle, when the surface of the moon facing the earth is completely away from the sun so that no sunlight reflects off it. This phase, logically, is not visible.

Credit: Dr. Phil Sutton’s Blog

The start of a new lunar month begins when the first light from the crescent moon is observed. This happens 11-15 hours after the new moon. This is our cherished “Eid moon” and our centre of all the circus.   

Do different places on earth observe different phases of the moon?

A common misconception, but no. Of course, because our earth is spherical, the crescent moon cannot be observed from everywhere on earth. The lunar phases occur at the same time no matter where you are. The only issue, naturally, is of the visibility.

From the parts where it will be visible, the same phase will be visible to all.

Our reluctance to scientific methods and common sense

In the past, a naked eye sighting of the moon marked the beginning of Shawwal and Eid day. The religion wasn’t spread worldwide like today and it was fairly easy to keep track of things for a comparatively smaller community. Modes of communication between faraway communities were extremely limited and each community relied on their own sighting to mark Eid day.

We no longer need to rely on our eyes to know the moon cycle. Thanks to the modern apparatus of science, we know how the moon cycle works and when the new moon will come up. So what bars the Islamic scholars from following this simple, harmless calculation?

If the crescent moon is sighted from any corner of the world, that means the month of Shawwal has begun.

It is pointless to keep trying to observe the crescent moon with a naked eye from a position of futile observation. It’s time the committee adopts a global means of moon sighting that almost every other Eid celebrating countries follow. It is 2019 and the future is now. Let’s not shy away from it.

Now that we’re in the clear, Eid Mubarak to those who’re celebrating. Those who are not, happy holidays!

Your ultimate guide to navigating Bangladeshi haat-bazaars

In the age of e-commerce sites that let you shop for essentials through your electronic devices and air-conditioned, neatly arranged supermarkets with helpful attendants armed with barcode scanners, shopping at an old school bazaar sounds like a daunting, unnecessarily stressful task. For the deal hunters and the dreamy socialist poets, however, these age old hubs of commerce hold an insurmountable amount of charm and heritage that is undeniable to anyone who isn’t afraid of slumming it like the majority of the country.

While there aren’t too many reasons why someone would want to put themselves through the ordeal of navigating the perilously slippery alleyways of Karwan Bazaar or New Market’s grocery sections, there is one that stands out above the rest – it’s a big part of being a Bengali. Akin to going along with the family elders to pick out a sacrificial cow from a gorur haat on the eve of Eid ul Adha, going grocery shopping to an old school bazaar is one of those things you really do have to experience, even if it’s just once.

It’s not as easy as strolling into a nearby Agora or Swapno store and piling your essentials into a basket, so here are our pointers to make sure your bazaar experience goes smoothly.

Dress appropriately

Your ultimate guide to navigating old school bazaars 1
This one is from ZARA btw, smh.

Skinny jeans and chinos might not make the same kind of fashion statement as lungis and sleeveless undershirts, but in the chaotic guts of Dhaka’s bazaars they’re not really appropriate attire. Wear disposable clothing, so that even if you get doused in fish flavoured water or kick up a hundred year old dirt and mud, you won’t care.

Footwear

Leave your expensive sneakers home. Sandals and old jogging shoes help you find grip on ground that has been rendered slippery through days old leaves, mud and dirt working in unison. That way your footwear stay out of the way of being caked in god knows what.

Get your haggle on

One of the biggest advantages of not shopping at a barcode filled superstore is finding ways to flex your bargaining muscles. Driving the price down to a reasonable level is something only a few excel at, but it’s a skill you can pick up with frequent attempts.

Use tactics like your inner knowledge of the product to bargain – if that guava looks too ripe to be true, point out that the supplier should have used a lesser amount of formalin.

There’s no standard price to pay – browse through multiple sellers and find the lowest price, then bargain from there. Haggling is an art, something you have to pick up intuitively and reflexively. Ask your elders – they’ve been bargaining for decades so they’ll have useful specific pointers.

Ditch the wheels

Your ultimate guide to navigating old school bazaars 2

Parking inside Karwan Bazaar can be one of the biggest pains you’ll face this side of stepping on Lego bricks. Forget the car, even if it’s chauffeur driven, and start walking. If necessary, walk a certain distance and hail a rickshaw, but under no circumstances should you expect that taking a car will help in any way.

Keep your stuff safe

Cell-phones, wallets, keys – keep them within easy reach and keep checking periodically to make sure they haven’t been nicked by some unscrupulous character who doesn’t care enough about groceries to be hanging around.

Quality control

Buying fish or meat? Sellers will try to give you the worst of the stock even though they’ll show you the best stuff. If you hand pick something, make sure it ends up in your bag without being switched out. Be careful of buying beef – the shopkeepers will try to increase the measured weight by including lots and lots of bony bits. Check what you’re buying before you head home, otherwise prepare to be disappointed.

Seems like a lot of hassle? It actually isn’t. Once you’re accustomed to it, it can actually save you a lot of money and in the process make you a tougher cookie. A couple of hours spent inside Dhaka’s bazaars will give you a solid perspective of how to be street smart nearly anywhere in Bangladesh.