The Many Varieties of Traditional ‘Eid Foods

Muslims all over the world will soon be celebrating the ‘Eid ul Adha, or the celebration of sacrifice, commemorating the completion of the Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The ‘Eid ul Adha is one of two major celebrations for Muslims, the other being the ‘Eid ul Fitr, or the celebration commemorating the end of fasting in the month of Ramadan.

Because the Islamic months are based on a lunar calendar, these holidays do not fall at the same time every year with reference to the Gregorian calendar followed in the West.

Muslims come from all over the world, though the highest concentration of Muslims reside in Southeast Asia, therefore there isn’t really one particular type of food characteristic of all Muslims. What is characteristic is keeping traditional foods within the boundaries of halal, or permissible foods (no alcohol, pork or other foods deemed impermissible as identified in the Qur’an, the holy book for Muslims).

Because of the migration of Muslims to many other parts of the world, particularly to the West, traditional foods are being fused with the foods and dishes of their new homelands, making for a great combination of healthy world flavors. ‘Eid ul Adha celebration tables all over the world will surely be eye candy for foodies everywhere, insha’allah.

We decided to demonstrate just a few samples of what you might find on the tables of a variety of Muslim households and communities with specific ties to a particular region of the world- it’s truly fascinating!

*This is by no means even scratching the surface of the possibilities of ‘Eid dishes from Muslim households and communities around the globe. Please share your favorite traditional ‘Eid dishes at the end of this post. I can’t wait to hear from you!

North Africa

Tagines are popular all over North Africa from Morocco to Algeria and Tunisia. Each region within each country makes them very differently, but incorporates local ingredients and seasonings set in from generations of passed down recipes and traditions. Most meats and veggies are cooked in the tagine itself and spooned over couscous (cooked separately) when eating.

North African Tagine of Lamb Shanks, Vegetables and Couscous

Algerian style Chicken Tagine

I’m told by others such as Maroc Mama that a dish called Boulfaf (Grilled Lamb Liver) is a must on the Morrocan ‘Eid table. What a great way to utilize every part of the animal and eat whole, nutrient-dense food, masha’allah. Thanks to Amanda for sharing this special dish with us.

Another dish I found profusely interesting is a  Libyan dish called Tbeikhet ‘Eid, or Lamb, Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew with Raisins– talk about using seasonal foods! I think this will be on my table after  ‘Eid when I get a chance to use up all of that wonderful Qurbani meat. Thanks to @LibyanFood for sharing!

United States

Yes, we do have a cuisine in the United States–and it’s delicious fusion of all of the beautiful traditions and flavors that came with immigrants like my grandparents. In my house, for example, I like to serve a vegetarian option like this fresh Italian Pasta Salad as well as a roasted chicken with seasonal produce.

Italian Vegetarian Pasta Salad

All-American Whole Roasted Chicken with Cranberries over Rice using Saffron Road Artisan Roasted Chicken Broth to cook the rice and add to the chicken while roasting.

Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia

One dish that is probably popular in most of the Middle Eastern countries and spans the region up to Central Asia is kebobs- beef or lamb skewers and patties grileed and served in a variety of ways. I’ll eat them in any way they’re made, but sometimes it’s just fun to have them like a burger; others you just need to enjoy them on the skewer.

Kebob patties or even on skewers of beef and lamb meat are popular ‘Eid dishes in the Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia

…and often cooked with the fat, for added flavor, of course

South Asia (Indian Subcontinent)

Lovers of spicy food or food with a kick will truly enjoy the many flavors that come with Indian, Pakistani and Bengali dishes served up for ‘Eid and other great occassions. Here’s just a few dishes suggested by our readers as their favorites.

Biryani, a Basmati rice dish that originally came from Persia, is basically a rice dish that includes meat that is first baked or fried and then mixed in with the semi-cooked rice then finished off together. Every region in India and Pakistan spices it up a little differently; there are even vegetarian version. Since Biryani is a pretty time-consuming dish to make, it’s often served up at special occasions- my experience is that no ‘Eid table would be complete without it!

This is a mixed lamb and goat biryani that is popular for ‘Eid, typically because the Qurbani meat (sacrificial meat processed on the morning of ‘Eid) is often either from a lamb or goat- just imagine how fresh the meat tastes when served the same day!

Lamb & Goat biryani from the super well-known Chicago restaurant, Ghareeb Nawaz in the heart of Devon, also known as Little India.

Haleem (above) is another favorite dish at Indo-Pak celebrations. It’s basically meat slow cooked with grains like lentils and perhaps bulghur.  Bones are removed, but it’s healthy because it’s cooked so long with the bone-in, adding calcium to the meal. I’ve mostly eaten a more dense version and one made with lamb, but this one shown above is a Chicken Haleem, and it was just as delicious as those I’ve had before.


What would celebrations be without dessert? This Carrot Halva is a favorite on ‘Eid morning in the Indo-Pak community. I’ve personally experienced it while staying at friends’ homes during ‘Eid and it was so delicious served alongside freshly-made chappati (bread) and mildly-spiced keema (ground beef).

 Halva is the Urdu (language of many Indo-Pakistanis) version of the word Halwa, which is Arabic for ‘sweet’ or ‘candy’. And oh, how sweet it is!

This is a special Bengali dessert that I’ve been told is quite popular for ‘Eid. Laura, from Hip Pressure Cooking shared a recipe and the photo above for Rasgulla (Puffed Cheese Squares), which she uses a pressure cooker to make, saying it’s easier and faster using this method. Grazie, Laura, for sharing the recipe from Italia!

Other popular desserts for ‘Eid include Kheer (Indian rice pudding), Baklava (phyllo dough pastry) and Kanafeh (cheese, semolina, noodles, syrup).

 No party would be complete without coffee (also known as: kahwa, kahva, kaffe or kafe in languages such as Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and more throughout the Muslim world).

I really wanted to include more recipes and photos, particularly from Indonesia (Ketupat), Malaysia, Senegal and more. If you have a recipe you’d like to share, please email me: contact@myhalalkitchen.com. It just might be featured on the site!


About the Giveaway

(please note: this is not a printable coupon)

Answer this question to be entered into our giveaway sponsored by Saffron Road Food!

What is one traditional dish your family always puts on the ‘Eid ul Adha table and why has it become traditional?


Your answer in the comments section of this post will enter you into the giveaway to win FIVE free Saffron Road coupons.

Coupons will only be sent to U.S. addresses, as they are redeemable at Whole Foods Markets and Kroger Stores in the United States.

Giveaway ends at 12:01 am on November 7, 2011.

To Enter the Giveaway:

1) Leave a relevant comment after this post that answers the question above.

2) “Like” the Saffron Road Facebook Page or follow Saffron Road on Twitter.

3) Subscribe to the MHK Monthly Newsletter or sign up to receive emails of recipes and articles by email from MHK.

Entries (comments plus other requirements) must be received by 12:00 am on November 7, 2011 


Sponsored by  for ‘Eid ul Adha

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  1. Well since we usually celebrate by eating out on the days of Eid, and in Dearborn we have many halal restaurants we vary from Lebanese and American and really enjoy the variety of food available. But my favorite food is Fesenjan an Persian sweet and sour made with pomegranate and walnuts and usually chicken. Served with the best rice Persian style. I hope everyone has the opportunity to try it.

  2. I always make roasted chicken, with a different side every year, and cupcakes with star and moon sprinkles. I like to make things that I know everyone will like. I also have been making samosas for the last few Eids!

    I follow Saffron road on FB and twitter
    and subscribe to your newsletter

  3. My family always serves Sheer Khurma in the morning after Eid prayers. This is a South Asian dessert/breakfast that is described as a “festival vermicelli pudding” on Wikipedia. Follow this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheer_korma) full description as I cannot think of a better one myself 🙂

  4. we always have mamoul and it has become a tradition! we make it together as a family – every one of us has a job. it is like an assembly line and the memory of making it is as amazing as the end product. alhamdulillah!

  5. Salaam, Everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful Eid with your family and friends.. 🙂

    Here, in Indonesia, each family usually get a portion of fresh Qurbani meat (beef and/or lamb or goat’s meat). So, our Eid ul Adha Days usually are filled with cooking and eating.. :), especially dishes that made from beef and lamb/goat’s meat.

    On Eid ul Adha, my family usually cook gule, sate, tongseng, rendang, and red bean soup from the broth. They all are Indonesian traditional food and my family’s favorite. As for ‘rendang’ (that usually is very spicy), I made it in two kind: one that is hot and spicy, and another one that is not spicy (without chili) specialized for my children.. 🙂

    ‘Ketupat’ usually being served on Eid ul Fitr. It is “a must” food for Eid ul Fitr in Indonesia.. 🙂

  6. While growing up, my mother always served veal pilaf, curried liver and sheer khurma on Eid-ul-Adha, all being my father’s (now deceased) favorite. It has now become a tradition at our homes too and by serving the above, I cherish the chilhood memories of Eid-ul-Adha spent with my family.

  7. Just curious, was this winner chosen? If so, was it based on responses here on the blog or those on Saffron’s facebook page? Thanks 🙂

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