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!