Saudi youth dance as they celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in Riyadh. (Reuters/File)
Updated 24 sec ago
April 21, 2023
- In some places, families share their Eid breakfast with neighbors, either by inviting them into their homes or joining together for an outdoor street party
- In the Kingdom’s central region, among other places, families typically cook mufattah, a traditional meat dish reserved for special occasions such as weddings or the Eid holiday
RIYADH: There are many popular Eid Al-Fitr traditions among the people of Saudi Arabia. Some like to hand out sweets to children, for example, while others exchange gifts. One of the most common is for families to get together on Eid morning for a special breakfast.
This is no normal morning snack, it is a veritable feast many families enjoy together after returning from the early-morning Eid prayers. In some places, such as Hail in northern Saudi Arabia, families share their Eid breakfast with neighbors, either by inviting them into their homes or joining together for an outdoor street party, complete with seasonal decorations and carpets, for which each family prepares food to share.
In the Kingdom’s central region, and some other areas, families typically cook mufattah, a traditional meat dish reserved for special occasions such as weddings or the Eid holiday. Although only eaten once or twice a year, it is highly popular in Saudi Arabia and usually made with lamb.
Asim Alotaibi, the owner of Asim’s farm, a butcher’s shop in the Alnarjis neighborhood of northern Riyadh, said: “The animal itself should be clean and healthy. At our farm, we feed our animals grass and barley. The animal can either be young or old; therefore the taste of the meat differs according to the age of the animal.
“The most important thing to me is the quality of meat, and you won’t fully know how good of a quality your product is unless you fed the animal yourself, you managed the process of feeding the animal, and know exactly what your animal is eating.”
Alotaibi said his shop specializes in locally reared lamb and wild camel meat. He owns his own farm in the desert outside of Riyadh, where he said it is important the animals, especially camels, are able to roam free and graze naturally.
This style of organic, free range farming has its challenges, however. Alotaibi told Arab News that it means livestock is more vulnerable to theft, for example, and on one occasion he lost 120 sheep to thieves while his business was preparing delivery orders for a large number of customers a week or two before Eid.
When asked what people should look for when buying meat, Alotaibi said that the way it has been prepared and stored is no less important that the initial quality of the meat itself. Often, people look for what they think is the freshest meat at their local grocery store without paying any attention to how it has been stored, he added.
Khalil Mohammed, a butcher at a supermarket in northern Riyadh, explained how he ensures meat remains at its best.
“We first wash the meat immediately after we skin the lamb,” he said. “Then we wrap the meat in a white cloth. After that, the meat must be stored in refrigerators in cool temperatures ranging from 0 to 5 degrees Celsius.”
He said that storage temperature is key to ensuring the quality of the meat remains high. The lower the temperature, the better the chance it will remain fresh and flavorful for longer.
In terms of the quality of the meat itself, Mohammed said that “the ratio of meat to fat matters,” along with the quality of veterinary care the animals receive.
“The animal must be examined by the veterinarian before it is slaughtered, to ensure it is healthy,” he explained.
Eid Al-Fitr, which begins on Friday in Saudi Arabia, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the start of three days of celebrations and family gatherings.
Categories: Arab World, Muslim World, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, World
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