Saliha Ciftci and her mother Sevde are busy preparing börek, a traditional Turkish savoury pastry commonly served as part of Eid celebrations.
“Börek is a layered pastry with different ingredients, which can vary from spinach or just cheese, or maybe spinach and cheese,” Saliha says. “And it’s all homemade, including the pastry.”
It is just one of the many dishes being made at the family’s business, Turkish Kitchen Sydney, in the south-western suburb of Edmondson Park.
“The most popular dish is called su börek [traditionally made with cheese and parsley], as well sarma [stuffed vine leaves],” Sevde says.
“And for the sweets, we have baklava – different types of baklava with pistachios or walnuts – profiteroles, and tres leches cake [a sponge cake made with three types of milk].”
Sevde began learning to cook when she was 14, growing up in Turkey’s Izmir, a city in the western extremity of Anatolia.
“I learned from my mum when I was young and after I moved to Sydney in 2003 I would search the internet and find new recipes,” she says.
Sevde, along with her husband, Alper, and their three daughters, will celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr this week with extended family and friends.
The Eid holiday marks the end of a full month of fasting and is celebrated on the first new moon after the start of Ramadan, meaning the date it falls on each year flfluctuates.
The Australian National Imams Council this month announced the last day of Ramadan would be on Wednesday 12 May, with Eid Al-Fitr on Thursday.
Sevde says she is glad to be returning to normal after last year’s disruptions due to coronavirus restrictions.
“In the morning we do breakfast with my family, after that we visit our friends, and in the afternoon we call our family who are overseas,” she says.
The Eid Show returns
As well as celebrating at home, Muslim families will also be returning to Sydney’s not-for-profit Eid Show at the Bankstown Showground.
The event was cancelled twice last year, for both Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
“Everything was out of the ordinary because of the pandemic and all the COVID rules, so hopefully this will bring a sense of normal back to everybody’s lives,” event organiser Ali Ayoub says.
The event usually takes up to a year to organise but preparations for this year’s event were delayed until six weeks ago.
“We’re working around the clock – one year of planning is going into six weeks [as] we were just approved,” fellow event organiser Radwan Dadoun says.
The Eid Show includes a variety of stalls, food vans and rides, and draws families from across the country.
“We got registrations from Brisbane and Gold Coast, from Melbourne, from Canberra, a lot of visitors from Wollongong,” Mr Dadoun says.
Although festivities and food are at the heart of Eid celebrations, another important aspect is fashion. Muslims traditionally celebrate by dressing up and wearing their best clothes on the day of Eid.
The prophet Muhammad is said to have worn his best cloak then.
Eisha Saleh is the owner of Raha Clothing, a women’s label that promotes comfortable, sustainable fashion.
“Eid is exceptionally busy for us. It’s the sales period for all modest-wear labels,” she says.
“Islamically, once you’ve finished fasting, part of the celebration is to get something new for yourself, your family, your children, and celebrate a whole month of abstaining.”
Eisha launched her label in 2019 and hopes to encourage people to be more environmentally aware when buying new clothes.
“The inspiration behind the brand is to change culture around sustainability: how they purchase clothing, why they purchase clothing, and to ask more questions when they do so.
“I want people to ask things like, who made my clothes? Where did they come from? How many environmental resources were used to create this product?”
As 70 per cent of Raha Clothing’s customers are Muslim, Eisha starts preparing for Eid in advance.
“We start preparing six months before Eid. It takes that long to create a collection and to go through production in Australia, so you really need to have your ideas set last year,” she says.
After weeks of hard work and preparation, Eisha says she is glad to be able to spend the day with her loved ones.
“We have lunch together, and dinner together with different family members, and we visit each other. We’re always wearing our new clothes, so it just feels beautiful.”
This content was originally published here.