Eid al-Fitr is special for many reasons, the biggest one being the end of Ramadan. The holy month of fasting, Ramadan is all about will-power, charity, and prayer. Observant Muslims begin the month with good intent, and end with gratitude and—of course—plenty of food.
Eid is celebrated all over the Muslim world, with family and friends coming together to exchange gifts, sweets, envelopes of cash, and food. In Pakistan, we enjoy a well-deserved breakfast of chana masala with fresh puris or sheer khurma (I’m a fan of South Carolina-based chef Maryam Ghaznavi’s silky, saffron-scented version). We wear our finest attire, go to the mosque for a special prayer, remember those who have passed, and spend the day eating and visiting our loved ones.
All Muslim cultures around the world celebrate Eid a little differently. In Southeast Asia, you’ll find parades, music, and fireworks; in Singapore, plates are filled with little pastries made with pandan and coconut called kuih. And across the globe in Tunisia, preparations start days before, with fresh baklava, and dancing and singing in the evening.
Animal sacrifice is also a widespread Eid tradition, so the day's feasts are often filled with stews and grilled meats, especially goat, as seen in the korma RASA co-founder Sahil Rahman’s Aunty makes. But equal importance is placed on sweets and desserts, to "sweeten your mouth" in celebration.
As much as indulgence and abundant tables are encouraged after a month of abstaining, so too is charity and the act of giving. Donating to a local mosque, and distributing food and money—so that everyone can join in the joy and fill their hearts and stomachs—is the hallmark of Eid al-Fitr. Whether you’re celebrating with family or friends, here are some of our favorite Eid recipes to tuck into during this festive time of the year.
Like many rice pilafs from the region, this one is spattered with saffron-infused water to create patches of fragrant yellow rice. The whole pilaf is wrapped in butter-saturated lavash to create a crispy, golden-brown casing that’s cracker thin. Get the recipe >
This warming lamb stew with Tunisian red chile paste makes use of the whole head of cauliflower: The flavorful stems are minced and sauteed along with the mirepoix, while the florets—broiled and added at the end—lend crunch and body. Get the recipe >
These holiday cookies are flavored with orange blossom water and stuffed with a sweet date filling. Get the recipe >
When they come in contact with the bottom of the pot at the correct heat, the pair of whole fish in this dish will form a crispy skin amid the tahdig and infuse the surrounding rice with extra flavor. Get the recipe >
Smoky red Kashmiri chile powder and rich ghee are the foundations of this recipe from Ahdoo’s Hotel in Srinagar, Kashmir. Cooked for weddings and other auspicious occasions, the Kashmiri feast wazwan can include up to 36 dishes, often including these tender lamb shanks. The cooks who prepare the banquet are supervised by a wouste waze, or master chef, schooled in the art of this meat-centric meal. Get the recipe >
Chef Maryam, of Malika Canteen, has kept up the traditions she grew up with, and continues to celebrate with the classics for Eid. Sheer Khurma is a delicate, milk based dish, traditionally enjoyed on Eid morning, after prayers, and also all-day by the guests streaming in and out of the house. Get the recipe >
Shahi translates to royal and originating from the Mughal Empire in South Asia, qorma was the dish made in the Mughal kitchens. Made with goat, chicken, or simply, with vegetables, qorma is now associated with celebrations. Get the recipe >
Cookbook author Naz Deravian’s chelo ba tahdig recipe calls for the traditional two-step method of Persian rice preparation—parboil, then add just enough fat to the bottom of the pot to turn out (fingers crossed) a crispy, crunchy tahdig. Get the recipe >
This recipe is adapted from Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes & Kitchen Secrets author Najmieh Batmangli, who describes how a friend’s mother in Yazd, Iran, used to make the treats with aromatic pussy willow flowers, which she would spread across a tray of ground almonds, flavoring the nuts with their sweet fragrance. Get the recipe >
Halwa, a crumbly, pudding-like confection, is enjoyed by many cultures across India and beyond, and may be made with a wide range of different ingredients. Get the recipe >
Chana Masala is a simple chickpea stew with many variations, eaten by a multitude of people across India. This recipe comes from author Suketu Mehta, who wrote about the dish for our 150th issue. Get the recipe >
Like chapati, puri is made from a simple durum wheat flour dough. But this flatbread incorporates ajwain seeds, which lend a lightly herbal, floral flavor, and is deep-fried in hot oil. Get the recipe >
This Nowruz staple comes to us courtesy of Darioush Wines co-founder Shahpar Khaledi, who likes to pair the traditional, saffron-scented Persian fish and crispy herbed tahdig with her family’s Napa Valley chardonnay, merlot, or their earthy and light-bodied Russian River Valley pinot noir. Get the recipe >
Instead of making large trays of layered baklava squares, Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav rolls a filling of cashews (his favorite nut) and brown sugar in phyllo into long, smooth cigars, the perfect snack-size sweets. Get the recipe >
A rich, spicy stew topped with bright cilantro leaves, a squeeze of citrus, and thin-sliced hot chiles, nihari is the ultimate comfort food for home cook and Lahore native Zainab Shah, whose mother makes this dish for her and her family. Get the recipe >