Delicacies around the world to break the virtuous fast of Ramadan

After a month long of fasting from sunrise to sunset, the Muslim community from all over the world will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr starting today. The festivities mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan- a month of fasting and abstinence from the materialistic pleasures of the world. As the new moon ushers in the next month of Shawwal, celebrations begin with community prayers and scrumptious feasts. Though the traditions and rituals vary from country to country, the merrymaking revolves around food. Food is not only primal for our existence, but is also central to any festival, any culture and any religion.

My passion is to consolidate food from different parts of the world and distribute it to geographies all over. With our global offices spread across Middle East, Asia and Europe, I have had the opportunity to witness Eid festivities in almost all the geographies. Eid ul-Fitr is one festival I’m crazily fond of because it is a “sweet Eid” with sweet dishes being heavily consumed on this occasion. I have characteristic sweet tooth and it is a pleasure to indulge in the sweet fantasies of Eid ul-Fitr! I remember being served a mouthwatering breakfast ‘Klaichas’, a date-filled, rose water scented pastry in Iraq by one of our customers. I was told that a similar cookie filled with dates and ground walnuts, ‘mamoul’ is served in Lebanon, Syria and neighboring regions. Butter cookies made of almonds or pine nuts are served in Palestinian region. If you happen to be at our Rotterdam office, you would feast on a high-maintenance cuisine called ‘spekkoek’, a thousand spice cake. In the Asian region, sheer khorma (a milky pudding of toasted vermicelli noodles) constitutes the traditional Eid breakfast. Protein rich nuts and dates are an important part of the Eid breakfast. Later in the day, families gather for a big delicious meal, with an assortment of tempting dishes. Again, there are regional variations. In South-East Asian regions, the focus is on beef, while in Egypt, it is more about fish. Iraq and Indonesia relish lamb. Asian Muslims savour ‘Biryani’ (steamed rice cooked with meat and spices). Spicy mutton stew (Hyderabadi Haleem), kebabs and gosht are peculiar to the Indian sub-continent. ‘Ketupat’, rice cake dumplings made with coconut leaves is a famous delicacy on the streets of Indonesia. Whatever is eaten, is eaten collectively, sharing amongst the friends and family. The Prophet’s message of “eating together, and not separating; because blessings are received in the company” is greatly admired.

As a kid, I was excited for the ‘Seviyan’ and ‘Eidi’ I used to get on every Eid. Over the years, my fondness for Eid has grown manifolds as I have developed a sense of deep reverence for the Islamic culture. The devotion, perseverance and self-control they exercise is commendable. Every religion has learning to offer, it depends on how we imbibe. The universal message of brotherhood and compassion is ubiquitous.

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