10 Traditional Eid al-Fitr foods enjoyed around the world
The traditional Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr is one of two major holidays on the Muslim calendar. Though both holidays are often referred to as Eid, there are a few major differences between the two. Eid al-Fitr comes first and takes place in the 10th month of the Muslim calendar. In contrast, Eid al-Adha is celebrated in the 12th month of the Muslim calendar, taking place 70 days after the first holiday. Besides the fact that they fall on different dates, different dishes are enjoyed during each holiday. Eid al-Fitr is known as the Festival of Breaking the Fast and has culturally gained the monikers “Sweet Eid” and “Festival of Sweets”, due to the sweet treats enjoyed during this time.
This three-day festival sees Muslims across the world unite to enjoy an elaborate array of exquisitely prepared dishes as they feast in each other’s company. In celebration of the upcoming Eid al-Fitr, here is a small selection of the best foods enjoyed around the world, sweet or otherwise.
South Africa: Samoosas
We start our journey in familiar territory - our home base of South Africa. Known as the “Rainbow Nation”, South Africa is a melting pot of culinary delights and this can certainly be seen in the foods we choose to consume during religious holidays. Drawing from Indian and Malay heritage, samoosas have become a staple on the Eid table and it’s easy to see why. Packed with delicious filling and folded into bite-sized triangles, these tasty snacks are often enjoyed with a side of dipping sauce and are simply satisfying!
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Sheer Khurma
Made of toasted vermicelli-esque noodles known as seviyan, this milky dish is sometimes topped with almonds or dried dates and is sometimes known as shemai. This dessert is akin to a sweet noodle soup and can be served both hot or cold, depending on personal preference.
In the United Kingdom, one of the most popular Eid dishes is easily a classic biryani, which combines meat and rice in a highly flavourful, heavily spiced dish. While chicken is the usual go-to, the whole spectrum of meats can be used in an Eid biryani. This dish is usually served with a traditional raita (cucumber, mint and yoghurt dip), salad and pickles on the side.
One of the most traditional Afghan dishes enjoyed during Eid is bolani - a traditional flatbread stuffed with either leafy greens, such as spinach, potatoes, pumpkin or lentils. Bolani is usually cooked on a round iron griddle called a tawah and served with a tangy yoghurt sauce.
Morocco: Laasida and Tagine
Moroccans kick off the day with laasida, a dish that is similar to rice pudding but consists of couscous, better, honey and seasoning. Although this simple, yet sweet dish may start the day, it is the tagine that ends it. Popular throughout North Africa, tagines most commonly use chicken, although it’s not uncommon to see mutton tagines with dried fruit instead.
Indonesia: Lapis Legit
Influenced by the country’s Dutch colonisation, Muslims across Indonesia often tuck into this delicious spice cake to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Known as lapis legit, this dish remains popular in The Netherlands and is perhaps one of the most time-consuming Eid dishes, with each layer having to be made from poured and broiled batter, before being assembled into the final product.
Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq: Butter Cookies
They’re known by different names in different countries, but their closest English equivalent is butter cookies. In Palestine, they’re known as ghraybeh and include either pine nuts or almonds, while in Syria and Lebanon, they’re referred to as maamoul and typically feature walnuts or dates. Iraq knows them as klaicha and in Egypt, they’re called kahk and are filled with a honey-based stuffing.
China: You Xiang
Often served with rice or soup, this is a simple fried, flour-based snack that translates as “oil fragrance”. It is marked with multiple rituals surrounding its preparation and consumption, although this is dependent on location.
Sometimes known as aseed, this Yemen dessert looks similar to a Mexican flan and is also enjoyed in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Libya. Made primarily from wheat and honey and is typically served piping hot and devoured fast!
While Eid al-Fitr is known as Hari Raya in Indonesia, there are still plenty of traditional dishes associated with the celebration, the most notable of which is rendang. This spicy coconut curry often includes beef as the main ingredient and is also enjoyed in Indonesia and the rest of the Malay diaspora.