Intensely flavourful and rich, this traditional Malay beef Rendang is a classic favourite during Eid, when Muslims in Singapore and Malaysia break their fast with a feast. Rendang is a dry curry that originated among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra and later spread throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore and it all begins with a fragrant homemade spice paste.
Popular throughout all of North Africa at this time of year, the low and slow braise is common during Eid and you can expect to see the likes of chicken, mutton tagines cooked with dried fruits and spices. The combination of fragrant spices, fruit and honey helps to cut through the richness of the lamb in this recipe, and the result has a wonderful balance of sweet and sour flavours. Served atop fluffy couscous, this is perfect cold-weather food.
During my parents’ time there, people bought these from the local bakeries called kulchah feroshees, which used age-old techniques, and had special ovens to bake biscuits and pastries to perfection. An Eid celebration must, this recipe calls on baking staples with a pistachio hit.
The Xinjiang province (home to the Uyghurs) borders Mongolia, Russia, India and all the Stans and was the link on the Silk Road between Asia and the Middle East. As a result, Uyghur cuisine meets somewhere in the middle between central Asian and Turkic tradition, bubbling away from the melting pot of that famous trade route. The Uyghur ethnic minority is predominately Muslim and so its cuisine is Halal, with lamb as the base of many dishes. Hand-pulled noodles, steamed buns, dumplings, bread and spiced skewers. Marinated in a blend of spices including cumin, chilli, ginger, coriander and nutmeg, the fragrance of these spicy beef skewers as they cook on the chargrill make this dish a definite crowd-pleaser.
Kobeba (also known as kibbeh and kibbe in other areas of the Middle East) is made with beef or lamb. It can be made as a slice or rolled into balls. Traditionally, pine nuts are hidden in the centre of each piece as a treat and you'll definitely go digging for them! Try your hand at this Egyptian beef and cracked wheat slice.
One of the most popular Eid dishes is easily a classic biryani. Meat, rice and spice all come together harmoniously in one satisfying dish. While chicken isn't typical, it's common to find a range of meats feature when Eid is in play. And the flavour-kicker in this Iraqi-style chicken biryani is the Mandaean spice mix: cinnamon, clove, black pepper, ginger, sweet paprika, cardamom and nutmeg.
If savoury pastry had an all-time favourite filling, you know cheese would be involved. Welcome to börek – paper-thin pastry known as yufka is filled with a cheese or meat stuffing and then rolled up before being baked. “When you’re kneading the dough for börek, it’s ready when it’s as soft as your earlobe,” explains Turkish chef Gulay Karci. The spectacle, when the tray is taken hot out of the oven, is second to none and expect a silence as this cheese and herb börek is served and then chatter and laughter as the feasting begins.
A Lebanese favourite, ghraybeh are butter cookies made with either pine nuts or almond, stuffed or plain. This ghraybeh recipe is subtly scented with orange blossom water, but you can easily use rose or vanilla as well. In Syria and Lebanon, they're called ma'moul and typically feature walnuts or dates, while in Egypt, they're called khak and have a honey-based stuffing.
In countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, This creamy and milky vermicelli pudding is usually topped with almond or dried fruits and is a popular breakfast and dessert option for Muslims during Eid.
Lapis legit is a traditional Indonesian dessert, which has been around since the Dutch colonial era. Once a treat only the affluent Dutch population could afford, lapis cake is now popular throughout South East Asia, particularly on special occasions and is a great way Indonesians celebrate the end of Ramadan. Making it at home entails baking many thin layers of batter and then sticking them together (typically with jam or a similarly sticky substance) to form a multi-layered, multi-coloured cake rich in butter, eggs and spices.
Similar to the Turkish, it's all pastry, nuts and hot sugar syrup in Bosnia, as well. If you love syrupy baklava then ružice is the tray for you! This baklava-like dessert gets its name because once you cut and turn the layered pastry pieces onto a tray they resemble the rosebud. Traditionally, these are made with walnut and tirit filling but if you are running low on time you can skip the tirit and use only walnuts as your filler, this works just as well. The combination of butter and oil between your pastry sheets ensures the pastry remains crisp during the baking process.
You can definitely see why they called Eid al-Fitr the 'sugar festival' and these Persian honey, almond and saffron caramels are a must-make. A popular feature on many Persian tables, it's the honey that is often used to add an aromatic sweetness to Persian confectionery. Celebrating the many honey varieties - such as orange blossom, thyme and clover - these sweets are the perfect after-dinner-sweet or gift of appreciation.
These shortbread-like biscuits are popular across countries like Syria and Lebanon. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings including date, walnut, rosewater and orange blossom - all the good things. You can use a ma’amoul mould for this recipe, available from Middle Eastern grocery stores, but it is also possible to shape the biscuits without one.
For more Eid al-Fitr recipes to devour over the three-day festival, check out our recipe collection here.
These crisp golden pastries are filled with ashta cream – a clever Lebanese unsweetened faux clotted cream – and then drenched with a fragrant syrup. Znoud el sett translates to ‘upper arms of the lady’ apparently referring to the similarities of the shape, look and texture to a particular Lebanese lady that they were originally named after – I’m not sure if that was intended as a complement!
This rich dessert is delicious, it’s crispy, it’s divine. It should be eaten hot, while the cheese is still oozing. In Turkey, it is generally cooked in a wood-fired oven, but of course you can also use an electric or gas oven.
Lgeimat are small fritters, or doughnuts, coated in saffron-infused syrup. They are a popular Emirati dessert, especially during Ramadan.
Sue tasted moghrabieh for the first time at a very young age, when her mum's neighbours brought a plate of it over to their house, following a cultural Lebanese tradition of exchanging plates of food between neighbours. The whole family loved it, and her mum asked for the recipe. Sue has kept ever since and proudly put in her book, Tayta’s Lebanese kitchen.
Translating to “arranged at the bottom”, this traditional Persian dish features crisp saffron-infused rice layered with chicken, yoghurt and tangy barberries (zereshk).
If you love rosewater then these sweet delights should be on your menu. Red food colouring is most common but you can get creative with other colours if you wish.
This vegetable and noodle soup is traditionally prepared to welcome in the Persian New Year. Noodles are believed to bring good fortune so this soup is also prepared for those embarking on something new. Packed with pulses and vegetables and finished with a refreshing burst of fried mint and garlic, this restorative soup serves as a hearty meal.