Eid al-Fitr literally means “holiday of breaking the fast.” It comes after the month of Ramadan in which Muslims don’t eat when there is sunlight. So naturally this celebration is one big feast for everyone who can finally eat while the sun is still up. In several cultures, meals eaten during Eid are just bigger and fancier versions of the meals eaten every night during Ramadan. But there are also some special foods that really mark the holiday.
This shortbread cookie is primarily eaten Levantine countries like Syria and Lebanon. There are different variations of stuffing, usually dates, pistachios, or walnuts, and they are often covered in powdered sugar. Kleicha is a very similar cookie enjoyed in Iraq as well as kahk in Egypt and Sudan.
This is a Somali Eid bread similar to injera in texture but has different spices added to it. On Eid it’s typically served sweet with sprinkled sugar and topped with yogurt for a tangy contrast. This recipe is also very popular in Djibouti and may have originated there.
3. Sheer khurma
Literally translated as “milk with dates,” sheer khurma is also known as semai in Bangladesh. This sweet vermicelli dessert is an Eid favorite in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It’s prepared with vermicelli, milk, sugar, dates and, depending on the country, pistachios, almonds, and/or raisins.
Eid al-Fitr isn’t just marked by elaborate desserts. Big, grand, meat dishes are also prepared in several countries on Eid. Tajine is one of those dishes often served in North African countries like Morocco and Algeria. It is a slow-cooked stew prepared with some sort of meat (often lamb or beef), with vegetables and/or fruits like plums and apricots.
5. Doro wat
This is a hearty Ethiopian stew or curry prepared with chicken and is typically eaten with the classic sourdough-tasting bread, injera. It is typically served on a communal dish allowing everyone to dig in and enjoy both the food and the company.
What we know in English as “Turkish delight,” lokum is a favorite for holidays like Eid in Turkey. This gel-like dessert is a combination of starch, sugar, and other fillings like dates, pistachios, and walnuts. Tastes good and is also one of the most beautiful Eid desserts as it can come in many different colors.
Tufahija is a dessert enjoyed by several Bosnians on Eid. It’s poached apple drenched in sugar and stuffed with walnut. It is often served elaborately in a large individual glass filled with syrup and topped with whipped cream. A very sweet way of celebrating the end of the fast.
These dumplings are a traditional Russian Eid al Fitr food, though they can be found all over the world. It’s thought to originate in what we now know as China and is a part of Afghan, Armenian, Turkish, Bosnian, and central Asian cuisine. They’re usually stuffed with spiced lamb or beef and size and shape varies across regions.
Bolani is one of those dishes enjoyed throughout Ramadan and still eaten on Eid al Fitr and throughout other special occasions year-round. Found in Afghanistan, it is a thin-crusted bread with a vegetable filling, stuffed with foods like potatoes, lentils, or pumpkin and can be served with yogurt. It’s typically served as a side or appetizer, though it can be eaten as a main dish.
10. Lapis legit
This is an Indonesian take on traditional Dutch layer cakes that was developed during colonial times. It’s made like a typical cake with flour, butter, and eggs, but contains Indonesian spices like cardamom and clove. It takes a lot of effort to prepare the cake and so is seen as a delicacy to eat on special occasions.
11. Beef Rendang
This spicy main course is an Eid classic in Malaysia. It originated with the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia that saw the dish as an embodiment of the society’s culture with the meat symbolizing the leaders/royalty/elders, coconut milk the teachers and writers, chili the religious leaders, and the spice mixture the rest of society.
12. Spice cookies
In the United States, most Muslims celebrate Eid by going out to eat at restaurants with large groups of friends and family. But a new trend taken up by American Muslims is making spice cookies (think Christmas gingerbread) but in a more Eid-festive way by using crescent moon and mosque cookie cutters.
As you can tell, there’s no such thing as traditional Muslim holiday food with Muslims coming from a variety of cultural backgrounds that aren’t even all encompassed by this list. But one thing is for sure across all countries, the food on Eid al-Fitr is always stuffing and delicious.