Eid al-Fitr is a three-day Muslim celebration that begins with the new moon following Ramadan and marks the start of the 10th month of the lunar calendar, called Shawwal.
What Is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holiest of months for Muslims. Starting at the new moon in the 9th month of the lunar calendar, it’s marked with fasting from sun up to sun down for the whole month. Breakfast is eaten before the sun rises during the month of Ramadan, and fasting begins with the morning prayers.
Dinner is eaten following the end-of-the-day prayers after the sun has gone down. In some cultures, people will not eat until nightfall.
The fasting is a way of practicing self-restraint, reminding themselves of the people in the world who are less fortunate and thinking of those who might not have food on their tables.
Another practice during the month of Ramadan is generosity, giving to charities, and supporting those that need help.
What Happens When Ramadan Is Over?
After the month of Ramadan, the daytime fasting reaches an end with a feast day called Eid al-Fitr, which means "Festival of Breaking the Fast."
It is a 3-day celebration that revolves around food...lots of food shared with family and friends! Gifts of money, accessories, or flowers are often given, and especially to kids. The gifts are called "Eidi."
Breaking the fast of Ramadan usually begins with eating dates. Widely cultivated across the Middle East, North and Central Africa, and Southern Asia they are an important source of food among the people from that region.
Muslims come from all sorts of different cultural backgrounds, and that means there’s a lot of variety with the foods they enjoy.
One traditional dish for many of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations is called sheer kurma, also known as semai in Bangladesh.
It’s warm, sweet vermicelli milk. The dish is made from milk, fragrant spices, like cardamom and saffron, chopped pistachios and almonds, raisins and dates, and vermicelli noodles.
Other Eid al-Fitr Foods From Around the World
If you need some ideas of what to prepare for your Eid al Fitr feast, check out these amazing dishes from around the world:
Dahi baras: Lentil fritters topped with yogurt, tamarind chutney, mint, coriander, and chaat masala, which is a spice made from dried mango powder, cumin, coriander, chili powder, dried ginger, and other spices. This dish is from India and Pakistan.
Beef Rendang: A spicy beef dish stewed in a coconut curry sauce from Malaysia.
Haleem: a slow-cooked stew of meat, bulgur wheat, and lentils found in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and central Asia.
Sheermal: Slightly sweet, saffron-flavored flatbread in Iran, Bangladesh, and India.
Lokum: A sticky, sweet candy, also called Turkish Delight, from, you guessed it, Turkey! Sometimes the recipe calls for rose water made from rose petals. This makes the lokum taste just like a rose smells. Yum!
Ras malai: Sweet cheese dumplings soaked in chilled cardamom- and saffron-spiced milk from India and Pakistan.
Tagine: Often served in North African countries like Morocco and Algeria, it’s a slow-cooked meat stew (often lamb or beef), made with vegetables and/or fruits, like plums and apricots. Tagine is actually the cooking dish, not the food inside! You can try a tagine recipe found in our eat2explore Morocco box.
All about the gathering of friends and family, doro wat is a hearty Ethiopian stew or curry. Prepared with chicken and eaten with a sourdough-tasting bread, called injera, it’s served as a communal dish. That lets everyone dig in and enjoy the food and the company. You can find a delicious doro wat recipe in our eat2explore Ethiopia box!
Chaaybiyet: Originating in Lebanon, these flaky dessert triangles are made with phyllo dough and filled with ashta cream. To make the fried cream pies even more delicious, they can be flavored with rosewater or orange blossoms. Sugar syrup is drizzled on top to create a plate of yum!
In Indonesia, the celebration is marked with a cake called Lapis Legit. It’s a variety of a traditional Dutch layer cake, made with flour, butter, and eggs.
Spices like cardamom and clove are used, which are traditional to Indonesian cooking. A traditional lapis legit cake contains at least 18 layers! The batter is added and cooked one layer at a time.
That’s a serious cake!
Because making the cake takes a lot of time and patience, it’s a delicacy enjoyed on holidays and special occasions.
The foods for Eid al-Fitr are rich and full of spice and flavor. Trying the different foods from around the globe is a great way to eat2explore the world around you!