A Culinary Tour of Eid al-Adha Dishes Enjoyed Across the Middle East

Dates, Wallnuts and Pistachios Maamoul. Photo to the author of the post taken during easter

Dates, walnut and pistachio-filled maamoul. Photograph taken by the author during Easter in Lebanon

Like in any celebration, food occupies a central place during Islam's Eid al-Adha traditions, which took place over the weekend. Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice culminates the Hajj season, which this year attracted 2 million pilgrims from around the world to Mecca.

In Arabic, Adha means sacrifice. During the Hajj ritual, Muslims around the world commemorate the day when Abraham was about to willingly sacrifice his son Ismael, before God asked him to sacrifice a lamb instead. It is therefore more than common to see a lamb meal served on the the lunch tables of Muslims on that day.

Dentist and food blogger Laila shares her recipe for a roasted lamb leg both on her blog and YouTube channel:

But you cannot talk Eid al-Adha in large areas of the Middle East without mentioning maamoul.

Eid al-Adha is often referred to by Muslims as Eid al-Kabir (Eid meaning celebration and Kabir meaning important or big). Christians in the region refer to Easter as Eid al-Kabir too, with maamoul also being their most famous dessert.

Holly S. Warah, an American married to a Palestinian, explains on her website Arabic Zeal how to make maamoul stuffed with dates. “These pastries are all about the dates. Use the best quality dates you can get,” she says before giving the ingredients and the recipe. 

On her part, Laila shares a YouTube video of how to make maamoul here:

Speaking of dates, Lebanese Louloua from Pearl's Powder greets her readers with photographs taken during her visit to the dates market in the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. She described:

Exciting thing too see in this city are the Palms farms all around and this explains the plenty of dates shops. Different kinds, different flavors and colors! It was like a “dates” heaven for those who love dates! This reminds me, who is excited for Mamoul this Eid?

Happy Eid Adha! :)

The Dates market in Medina KSA, Photo originally taken by Louloua from the blog "Pearl's Powder" posted under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

The dates market in Medina. Photo originally taken by Louloua from the blog “Pearl's Powder” posted under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Some sweets might not be typically intended for Eid al-Adha, but are welcome especially when presented with twist. Take knefeh for instance. Anthony from No Garlic No Onions culinary blog highlights chocolate knefeh and croissant knefeh he sampled in Lebanon. 

Lebanese-American Joumana Acad, blog owner of Taste of Beirut, shares another no less eccentric recipe: loukoum ice creamLoukoum, more commonly known as Turkish Delight, is a sweet paste often mixed with nuts, pistachios and flavored with rosewater, mastic and other ingredients:


2 cups vanilla ice-cream

8 Loukoum, flavor of your choice

1. 30 minutes before serving the ice-cream, cut-up the loukoum and mix it with the ice-cream; place back in the freezer. Serve in individual bowls. 

NOTE: I have noticed that the ice-cream ordered at restaurants ends up with the loukoum’s texture being too hard, which is why I’d try to do the mixing as close to serving as possible. 

We continue our culinary trip to Morocco with Hasnaa and Lamia, who teach us how to cook Mrouziah, a caramelized meat cooked with dried raisins, on their H&L Recipes YouYube channel:

Egyptians can't imagine their Eid meal without fatta to the extent that some of them have it for breakfast. But take note: the Egyptian fatta is different than the Levantine, made usually with chickpeas, onions, eggplants sometimes and yogurt.

Egyptian Fatta. Credits to the Blog "Julia Al Arab"

Egyptian fatta. Credits to the Blog “Julia Al Arab”

Under the the nickname Julia, an Egyptian housewife and blogger gives us a step-by-step recipe for an authentic fatta a l'Egyptienne. It requires the following ingredients:

2 cups steamed (cooked) rice
400g beef
5 tomatoes (juiced or pureed)
3 Arabian bread (about 8 inch each), cut into squares
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Medium onion
4 tbsp vinegar
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 dry bay leave
2 cardamom

salt, black pepper, cumin to taste

40g butter
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Parsley for garnish 
Libyan cookies filled with Lokoom. Credit: Libyan Food Blog

Libyan cookies filled with loukoum. Credit: Libyan Food Blog

The second preferred dessert for Libyans after the famous magroud is the kaak halkoum, or cookies stuffed with loukoum. Both are, according to the blog Libyan Food, a must have on the Eid.

And we finish this round-up of Eid dishes in Oman, with expatriate Antonio Andrade, who got to taste and experiment with homemade shuwa, which consists of an entire goat or cow roasted and cooked for 24 hours in a sand pit.

Happy Eid al-Adha everyone!

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