Barbecue's always been an essential part of our cuisine but our love for grilled meat is especially pronounced on Bakra Eid; everyone has at least one barbecue scene to attend out of the three days of festivities.
If you're hosting one, you need to do something to make yours stand out; let's redefine what barbecue means this year a little. We don't have to eat the same old masala packet glazed boti, and we definitely can stop serving them in that sad looking hot-pot (you know the one I'm talking about).
Here's a few tips and tricks I've picked up along the years that will help you take your BBQ game up a notch:
Experiment with sauces
No shade to mint raita or tamarind chutney but there's so much more out there in the world of condiments.
And the best thing is, this way, you can cater to a number of different tastebuds; like me and my friends are big on plating barbecue with chipotle but others might want to pair their meat with Thai sweet chilli sauce, or a Peri Peri sauce.
Psst: since imported goods are heavy on the wallet these days, we recommend looking into Dipitt, a local brand with a wide range of interesting options.
Either that or let loose in your kitchen. Caramelise your favourite fruits into a sauce, like has anyone ever told you that plum makes for a mighty good sauce with spicy barbecued meat?
Marinate it as soon as possible
Prepare your marinade mixture as soon as the meat arrives because it takes time for the spices to soak into tougher meat, particularly beef. If left for days in the refrigerator, I assure you, you are in for a flavourful kicker so ideally, maybe host your Eid barbecue on the third day...
Pro-tip: please abandon the age old method of using yoghurt as a base to marinate your meat in. Remember, it’s not the foundation of marinade, it's just one of the ingredients.
Use Coke to baste
Pakistani palates are big on spice, but we sometimes forget to balance flavours. Barbecue also needs heat so we recommend using some Coke to caramelise the barbecue first.
Now hear me out, I haven't lost my mind. It's a better alternative to sugar to leave a hint of sweetness on your barbecue and helps ground the flavours more.
So brush some cola on your seekhs as you barbecue them on the grill periodically, just like you would do your oil brushing routine.
Think outside your company-produced packaged spice mixes:
And by that, I mean quite literally, think outside the box.
These mixes have standard proportions of different spices which means your barbecue will taste the same each time. Tweak these proportions as you prepare your own masala mixes at home.
This ensures two things: you get to use freshly ground masala which has a different taste of its own, and you get to add your twist to it.
Three words for you: fresh green papaya
While we usually rely on company-manufactured meat tenderisers that we can easily stock up on, this year's Eid ul Azha happens to coincide with the season of a natural alternative, papaya.
Head to your local fruit vendors, and grab some green papaya, peel it and then ground the green bits of the flesh into a paste. Add that to your marination mixture, and you will definitely get better results than your packeted meat tenderiser.
Prep in advance
Ensure you are stocked up on coal. Fire up your angeethi way before your guests make their way to your home because the process is quite lengthy, and can quickly become frustrating. Lighting the angeethi produces way too much smoke so please save yourself the hassle, and your guests the tears.
Get the wider seekhs instead of the round ones; they're more sturdy and the meat cooks more evenly.
Oil is your friend
Brushes over spoons make all the difference.
Also, don’t use extra virgin olive oil, it isn’t the right choice of oil for BBQ. Extra virgin olive oil is likely to burn off quickly and smokes as soon as it comes into contact with the meat so use light olive oil or vegetable oil instead.
So next time you have teary eyed relatives, and loud coughing sessions interrupting hearty conversation, know what you have to do.
Presentation is key
You shouldn’t just dump freshly barbecued meat into a hotpot in a newspaper like we all tend to usually do; those containers are airtight which makes the boti moist, almost soggy. The newspaper's ink starts to leak, which contaminates your food. I say just munch onto your seekhs as you get them, we all love doing that, don’t we?
But if that doesn't work, a glass bowl is your best bet; either way, switch away from using hotpots and disposable cutlery that isn’t biodegradable.