Eid al-Fitr is one of the two major celebrations of the Islamic calendar. It falls at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from sunup to sundown. To commemorate the end of this holy month, a big celebration is thrown. This celebration, Eid, is an explosion of food and sees the creation of many different traditional treats.
The month of Ramadan is holy in the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar based around the phases of the moon. For the duration of this month, Muslims engage in the practice of fasting, where they will not eat or drink anything from dawn to sunset in order to grow spiritually and become closer to their faith. It is a reflective time that many also use to do good and charitable deeds.
Eid al-Fitr (also written Eid ul-Fitr) is the celebration that comes at the end of this month. Although Eid celebrations take many different forms the world over, they are all marked by a delicious spread of edible treats.
Although there’s no way of knowing exactly what day Eid will fall on this year (it’s based on the position of the moon), we do know that it will be happening towards the end of April, likely the 21st. In the lead up to Eid, moon-sighting committees around the world will be watching the skies to be able to declare the end of Ramadan when the new moon is sighted over Mecca. During this time, families and bakeries alike will be cooking up a storm for the upcoming celebration.
Ateba Malik, owner of Perth-based halal bakery Drizzled says, “The main aspect of Eid treats is to enjoy them with a group and to celebrate this holy holiday with family and friends.”
Traditional flavours of rose, date, and pistachio are peppered throughout the cooking. Typical foods that are seen at Eid celebrations include gulab jamun (fried dumplings flavoured with cinnamon and soaked in rose syrup), burfi (also known as shirpera, a milk-based sweet that comes in many different flavours), and khetayee (sweet biscuits with pistachio).
Many cultures around the world produce baked sweets like these ones and others to mark the end of the fasting month.
The way that Eid is celebrated by Muslims in Australia is changing, however. Drizzled produces predominantly cakes and brownies that do still retain some of the traditional Eid flavours.
“Every Eid, we always launch a new Eid-style cake, cupcake, and mini cupcake, for which we use flavours such as sticky date and pistachio rose—which are the most traditional Eid flavours among many cultural celebrations! We also have Eid colours that we always involve in our cakes, such as purple, green, and blue.
“The biggest variation in Eid treats is that each country’s culture will have their own important dessert. People in Australia in general celebrate Eid with people of a similar to the same cultural background, but the impact of living in Australia has also allowed different cultures to evolve. Serving cakes or brownies is becoming more common nowadays,” she says.
“I do know from years of working in this industry, people in Australia mainly celebrate Eid after prayers, and they will host brunches in which they will make a main dessert table with decorative desserts placed on it. This would include cakes, but also their own cultural desserts, which have come out of generations of family norms.”
This shift away from the more traditional baked treats has not detracted from the level of celebration that Eid normally attracts.
“Eid is our busiest time of the year,” Ateba tells me.
“Our main considerations for baking Eid treats are to ensure that the cakes not only taste amazing, but look spectacular. In the end, cakes are more than just dessert—they are a part of a great memory shared among families celebrating Eid.”
No matter the treats that are served at Eid celebrations around the country, one thing that can always be counted on to be consistent is that they will be halal.
For a food to be considered halal, and therefore okay for Muslims to eat, simply means that it hasn’t come into contact with or doesn’t contain anything that is haram, or forbidden. This means foods that don’t contain any portion of alcohol or pork products, as well as complying with some other restrictions.
For a bakery selling halal treats, this means keeping things consistent with what Muslims can consume. A lot of food additives and preservatives that are commonly used in baking contain traces of alcohol, which make them unable to be used in halal baking.
“Muslim people from every culture always want to make sure they are purchasing halal and distributing halal cakes and desserts. We are Muslims as well, and we take this into special consideration. This is the main reason our bakery is full of cake orders on every single Eid,” Ateba says.
“Having a halal baked good bakery in this industry checks a box of being able to ensure the customer will be serving halal food to their family. This helps our customers enjoy our cakes with peace of mind.”
It is important for Muslims to have somewhere to go where they know the food is halal so they can supply parties, at Eid and other times throughout the year, with treats that they can eat.
“Many people will email or call us just to check if we are halal, and we always announce that we provide halal cakes, whether it’s for Eid or a normal day. Eid is part of our Islamic calendar, so eating halal food is of the greatest importance,” Ateba says.
Being able to outsource the work of preparing for an Eid celebration is important for a lot of families, who may not have the time or energy to create a feast at the end of long days of fasting, says Ateba.
“They don’t have to really worry about working extra hard on moon night, which is the night before Eid, to prepare any dessert off their own. This takes a little pressure off the celebrations, as many celebrations do involve cooking and hosting.”