Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, so the exact period Ramadan takes place varies year to year, but this year it began on June 5 and will end on July 5. That means Eid al-Fitr begins at sundown on July 5. As it marks the end of a month of fasting, Eid al-Fitr is indeed a celebration — and a celebration that revolves heavily around food.
"After a month of fasting, grand celebrations are encouraged with lots of food with family and friends," says Nazneen Hamilton of the blog Coffee and Crumpets. Eid al-Fitr is the ultimate feast and eagerly awaited.
The Sweetest Treat
Like Christmas dinner, what you'll find on families' tables varies, but one dish that doesn't is the traditional warm sweet vermicelli milk called sheer kurma. Sweetened with dates and raisins and spiced with cardamom and saffron, it's a treat that many wait all year for. "It's on everyone's Eid table for dessert. In fact, I'm so particular about only eating it on Eid that I won't eat it any other time and get a bit annoyed when people make it for iftar!" says Hamilton.
Read More About This Drink: Eid and the Scent of Toasted Vermicelli
The Rest of the Feast
"For us, the feast starts with eating a date," says Kaif Khan of the blog Quirk Kitchen. Dates symbolically mark the end of the fast. "We then proceed to have a dinner of biryani and meat curries, all shared with friends and family."
Others bring a mix of different cultural dishes to the table: "Sometimes our friends all get together for a potluck and then everyone brings a festive traditional dish from their native countries. We get couscous, tagines, curries, and trifle — a great variety of food," says Hamilton.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Almonds & Chickpeas
Whatever the choice of food, it is common to enjoy tea at the end of the meal. "Green tea, cardamom tea, or pink Kashmiri tea usually ends a meal," says Sumayya Usmani, author of the cookbook Summers Under the Tamarind Tree. Kashmiri tea, which is also called Noon Chai, is a special tea that is brewed with a specific tea leaf similar to green tea. The addition of baking soda actually causes a reaction that gives the drink a pink hue. Milk gives the tea creaminess, but what's really interesting is that salt is added instead of sugar, which makes for a warm, salty tea that's then topped with pistachios and almonds.
10 Eid al-Fitr Foods from Around the World
- Dahi baras: Lentil fritters topped with cool yogurt, tamarind chutney, mint, coriander, and chaat masala (India and Pakistan).
- Kokoretsi: Lamb or goat intestines wrapped around offal, like sweetbreads or kidneys, and grilled (Turkey).
- Haleem: A slow-cooked stew of meat, bulgur wheat, and lentils (Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia).
- Meat Pullaos: A rice and meat dish cooked in a flavorful broth (Southeast Asia and India).
- Nehari: A slow-cooked stew typically made with beef or lamb (India and Pakistan).
- Beef Rendang: A spicy beef dish stewed in a coconut curry sauce (Malaysia).
- Sheermal: A sightly sweet, saffron-flavored flatbread (Iran, Bangladesh, and India).
- Ras malai: Sweet cheese dumplings soaked in chilled cardamom- and saffron-spiced milk (India and Pakistan).
- Klaichi: A pastry filled with dates and flavored with rosewater (Iraq).
- Lokum: A sticky, sweet candy also known as Turkish delight (Turkey).