Bakra Eid and the whole animal tradition
November 6th, 2011
01:30 PM ET
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The celebration of the Islamic holiday of Eid-ul-Adha is a reminder of whole-animal food preparation, an essential process throughout the developing world that is enjoying a renaissance in modern American dining.

Eid-ul-Adha – or Bakra Eid (Eid of the goat) as we called it – is a day on which Muslims around the world sacrifice cows and goats in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Growing up in Karachi, I remember trucks stopping door-to-door picking up animal skins, excited chatter about the treats we would soon enjoy, and visiting friends and family to share carefully packaged cuts of meat.

My appreciation and understanding for this tradition took on a new perspective two years ago when my grandmother visited me in Atlanta. My sister and I were discussing this crazy new food movement in the American south that used buzzwords like farm-to-table, organic, and whole-animal cuisine.

“Can you imagine, Alishba? A restaurant that actually utilizes each and every part of an animal! How ingenious! They use the good, the gross, AND the ugly!”

Insert grandmother Nani: “Sweetie, is that what they are really doing? Oh well, it’s good that people are now catching on to methods we have used since donkey’s years!”

Me: “Hold on, what do you mean Nani? How can you say that? We don’t eat a whole animal – like ALL of the parts!”

“No, you do, maybe you just didn’t notice. Don’t you remember Eid!?” Suddenly, I began to see my 22 years of Bakra Eid experiences from a new perspective.

Saima Ali was raised in Pakistan, and continues a Bakra Eid tradition with her family in Atlanta. Although she has lived in Atlanta for over thirty years, Ali and her family travel to a family farm Calhoun, Georgia every year to select, slaughter, prepare, and consume a cow. “I want my children to be able to know where their proteins come from, and to respect the animal they sacrifice and eat.”

Alpharetta, Georgia mother of two Mobiha Murad puts particular emphasis on the quality of meat used during the holiday. “The taste of fresh meat prepared for an Eid feast tastes like no other dish through out the year; the meat is fresh, aromatic and has a soft and subtle texture.”

Murad uses the opportunity of the whole animal to prepare classic, labor-intensive south Asian delicacies like kata kat, paya, and varieties of kababs.

Similarly, celebrated Atlanta chef Anne Quatrano has gone “meatcentric” in a special way with her two year old venture, Abattoir. Quatrano’s menu at Abattoir includes dishes made with head cheese (a terrine made from head meat and jellied stock), feet, and innards. “We use locally-raised proteins to produce high quality, affordable food.”

Explaining the origin of the local-animal concept, Quatrano notes, “We had great relationships with local farmers, butchers, and herders (by purchasing produce for her other restaurants Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, and Floataway Café); we knew the way their products are nurtured, cared for, and butchered.”

And the Abattoir experience goes beyond the dining clientele. “Using a whole animal is a spiritual experience for me and the staff here because we respect the animal that has given up its life for us to consume.”

That respect extends to the environment outside the restaurant for Kevin Ouzts, owner of The Spotted Trotter, a chic charcuterie in Kirkwood, an Atlanta neighborhood. Ouzts is a great advocate of thoughtful, environmentally conscious decisions about meat.

“As far is travel and cutting time is concerned, buying the whole animal locally streamlines the process and you then avoid wastage of both energy and non-recyclable materials used in packaging proteins or then preserving it.” Further, Ouzts buys whole animals only from local farms where animals are raised on organic feed.

Although some of Quatrano’s and Ouzts’s menu selections would be literally foreign to Nani, I think she would recognize and appreciate the care, precision, and respect that goes in to the dishes. Brain masala today, tripe ramen tomorrow.

Previously - Five reasons to consider the goat and An Egyptian family's Eid al-Fitr feast

For more on religion, visit the Belief Blog

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Filed under: Cultural Identity • Culture • Eid • Holidays • Meat • Offal • Religion • Rituals

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soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Pat

    Why does someone always say "respect the animal that "gave" up it's life" DUH! the life was taken not given – the whole thing of eating animals is disgusting and the cruelty that goes into the practice is even worse – stupid people

    November 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  2. Bob Creeper

    You are what you eat, I hope you've heard of that.
    Well I don't know what animal they are eating in Pakistan but they are now killing doctors.
    Pakistan celebrates Moslem holiday – Eid, by executing four doctors (Dr Ashok, Dr Naresh, Dr Ajeet and Dr Satia Paul) in Karachi for the crime of being Christian/Hindu. Pakistan, where everyday is a 7th century day in the cesspool.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Patels Subway

      I am a Muslim and condemn such acts for no matter what reason that is insane!! Although minority hate crimes are common in Pakistan and India, it's very common in the US as well. Hate crime, minority or not, is absolutely inhuman act. I am praying for their families.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  3. Bob Creeper

    Pakistan celebrates Moslem holiday – Eid, by executing four doctors (Dr Ashok, Dr Naresh, Dr Ajeet and Dr Satia Paul) in Karachi for the crime of being Christian/Hindu. Pakistan, where everyday is a 7th century day in the cesspool.

    November 8, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  4. Patels Subway

    Do you have zoo's in India? If you do, then do you have lions? and if you do have lions then what do you feed them? meat or lettuce? You see where I am trying to get at. It is in the nature of lions to eat meat. We aren't any different but have intelligence; therefore, we have the choice. There are people of many faiths who choose to eat just vegetables. The issue here is the faith and not the choice and the people on this board are just doing that! If Hindu religion sees consuming meat as abhorrent then its ok but that shouldn't apply for everyone. It’s a circle of life. And it is not the one we saw on Lion King. It doesn't work like that.

    November 7, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Truth

      OMG. When will you guys stop giving stupid arguments. You are not lion or tiger. They are naturally meant for killing. Can you kill a deer, buffalo or anything in wild without using any kind of arms. Can you run as fast as deer or do you have claws or teeth to cut through animal skin or can you eat raw meat? No, No and No. Humans are not naturally meant for killing and eating animals, they have adopted it.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Amit

    I would request all the reader on this forum to not be lowlife by insulting each other and each other's religion. Religion is a choice of an individual as far as it is not hurting you and human kind, whatever practice they follows should bear no argument. I am Hindu and as far as Hinduism is concerned, it is a liberal religion and does not spread hate and accept every view on religion. It does not hate or insult any religion. Therefore, those who are critisizing other religion might be just Atheist and neither Christian, Jews or Hindus. Peace.

    November 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  6. Truth

    Religion specially where you can question makes you dumb and which is what happening with religious practices. People are following it and justifying it with silly reasons. Religion is obscure in today's world. I would rather celebrate science which has given what religion used to promise. You can be treated by medicine. You can see and talk to people thousand miles away. You can make environmental comfortable to yourself and heaven is on earth. There is no heaven anywhere else.

    November 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Truth

      Sorry lines should be read as "Religion specially if you can't question it"

      November 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Richard RaceHorse Haynes AAL

      Please Cease and desist in using the name Truth on this Blog. It has already been taken by a fine man that knows how to write and spell. If you must persist in the use of his name I shall file a motion in Federal Court. Thank You and have a good day.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Billy The Kid

      If Heaven is on earth , Just maybe you can tell me how to get THERE

      November 8, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  7. happygomuslim

    I don't understand why some people go to comment on religious articles just to disrespect that religion. As mature adults we should have enough sense about dealing with other people's religious practices in a respectable manner even if we don't agree with them. As far as people who believe it is wrong to eat meat because we are hurting the animals I say then we should not eat anything because my friends it is well researched and established that all plants have feelings of hurt and pain but because they are designed differently and are different from us we cannot tell what they are expressing with our five senses. They operate in different frequencies that the human ear cannot pick up. Read the Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tomkins if you would like to know how intensely alive and full of feelings the world of plants is. And just think how "barbaric" we are by ripping them out of the ground and chopping them up to eat them. May God Almightly make it easy for us all to tell truth from falsehood. Amen. Peace to everyone

    November 7, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • freewords

      Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians Chapter 2)

      November 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Dr. Joyce Brothers

      "happy ... " You answered your implied question in that first line:
      "... As mature adults ..."

      nuff said

      November 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • A Human

      You are the missing the whole point of discussion. Your people are claiming to attain spirituality by killing an animal and using all parts and even putting the statement that it was animal who came forward for sacrifice. So go through the article and then come back to defend this bad practice.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
      • PigsandBLT

        Im sorry "A Human", before you talk, why dont you go learn about the edicts of the religion fist. The goat is sacrified, 1/3 goes to feeding the improvished/poor, 1/3 stays with you to feed your family, and 1/3 goes to aquiantances. Millions of poor people wait for Eid uladha to eat meat- especially when meat is very expensive in devloping countries- some poor families are unable to afford meat year long (and all the nutrients that come with it). Your myopic view of this practice is lacking, pathetic, uneducated, and ignorant. You, as a citizen of a country which has placed large emphasis on education and reading: I have to say, you have come out to be pretty dumb

        November 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Truth

      Why Islam have to take help of propaganda of lies to justify it? No research has told that plant has pain. It is wrong as Plant has no nervous system and feeling of pain. They don't have chemicals which produces pain. Therefore, even a person who is illiterate can say that killing animal and plant killing is not same. I have never heard such absurd argument before.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
      • beef lover

        So what's your problem.....when you guys worship every animal and even genital organs we don't object ...when your people drink cow' s ur*n and even their own ur*ne we don't care...when you aghori sadhus loath in filth eat dead and rotten human flesh and dead animals and even their own sh**...we don't say just suck it up...we are going to kill and eat meat of your god cow what ever u wanna do .

        November 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • Truth

        No doubt in-breeding has made you dumb. You are arguing and justifying you religion again on the basis of false, lies and propaganda as none of what you mentioned is a Hindu practice. Hindus don't do whatever you mentioned other than celebrating "Shiv Lingam" which is considered as symbol of male creative energy and begininglessness and endlessness of Shiva (stambha). Shiv linga does not have begining or end and represent both energy and vastness of creator. It is not celebrated as what you stupid think. Anyway, I don't care as I am atheist and don't follow religion as it has no meaning.

        November 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
      • Beef lover

        I can care less whether you believe in any religion or not. But again like your previous pathetic comments you are again full off lies. Hindus do all these disgusting and filthy it yourself on the you tube or I can post the links here.anyways don't try to be smart on something about which u don't have any clue.

        November 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  8. bronc

    Jesus is lord. I am who I am. Muslims are being led by satan please turn to jesus

    November 7, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • krm1007

      Likewise muslims are inviting you to turn to Islam as your salvation and redemption.

      November 7, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • NotGod

      You are on crack. Thats what you are.

      November 7, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  9. woW

    Well those people that think this is killing animals go to a store and see all that meat its the same thing but in a packet. This sacrifice is good for the poor 1/3 of it goes to the poor who have nothing so if you have a problem with feeding millions then I don't really care what you think.

    November 7, 2011 at 3:12 am |
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