Features 4 minutes 10 April 2024

How Four MICHELIN Restaurant Chefs Celebrate Eid al-Fitr

Four UAE chefs of diverse cultural backgrounds share how they traditionally celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

After a month-long Ramadan, filled with moments of self-reflection, self-restraint and fasting, comes the festive period of Eid al-Fitr. During this time, Muslim families get together to celebrate the end of Ramadan, practice zakat (charitable donations) and, of course, indulge in decadent feasts.

Religiously, the celebration of Eid al-Fitr is similar across different cultures; however, traditions and foods vary depending on where you are in the world, particularly in the UAE. It’s home to over 200 nationalities and naturally, this diversely colourful community brings a range of traditions spanning the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and so on.

In this article, we speak to four expat chefs of Bib Gourmand restaurants in the UAE who share their memories of Eid al-Fitr growing up, the traditional foods and celebrations they enjoy during this festive period and what it means to them.

READ MORE: Discover the UAE's most beautiful spas


Akmal Anuar - Singaporean/Malaysian

Otoro, Abu Dhabi
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Abu Dhabi 2024

“Back in the 90s, I would go for morning Eid prayers with my dad and would return home to dress nicely in our traditional and matching Baju Kurung. We’ll all have light bites, and then gather around to seek forgiveness amongst each other. It’s a very special moment in our family as we’re given the opportunity to ‘clear-out our chests’ and to ‘let out and let go.’ Right after, we would all drive to visit our grandparents, where we’ll get to meet the rest of the family.

Some of my first memories as a kid were bonding with our cousins – as for some, we only ever meet or catch-up once a year. On top of that, our elders would give us small envelopes of cash, and that would instantly make our day.”

What is one dish your family always made to celebrate Eid?
One dish that we all look forward to back in Singapore was definitely the Rendang. Rendang originates from Sumatra, and Malays inherited that dish or recipe where everyone has somehow made their own version. It is usually made with buffalo meat, but we now use beef in our household. We stew or slow-cook the meat with rempah or spices, along with fresh coconut milk, where it is simmered for a period of time until everything evaporates and leaves a rich, thick dark brown goodness. It’s definitely a winner when paired with ketupat (rice cakes).

RECIPE: Make a traditional Lamb Ghouzi, the Emirati dish perfect for any occasion

Abolfazl Shirazipour - Iranian

Shabestan, Dubai
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

"Eid al-Fitr is a joyous occasion for Iranian families, filled with religious traditions, family bonding, and of course, delicious food. We decorate our home with colorful lights and flowers to create a vibrant atmosphere. The celebrations begin with Eid prayers, a special congregation held early in the morning of Eid. Mosques are filled with families dressed in new clothes, offering thanks for the strength to complete Ramadan. After prayers, families come together for a big Eid breakfast and congratulate each other.

Special dishes like Shirin Polo, sweet pastries and dates are enjoyed to break the fast. Visits to extended family and friends are a cornerstone of Eid. We visit our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, exchanging Eid greetings and strengthening family bonds. Children also receive new clothes and money as gifts from elders.


After the prayers, the real celebration began! We feasted on a delicious meal with all our relatives, I remember my father cooking Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian herb stew) and I was so interested to learn how he cooked it. The scent of spices and roasting meat filling the air, everything was perfect. I can still remember the laughter and stories that were shared that day, and I received the most amazing Eidiyya from my grandfather, Kaaseh!

The first Eid after I fasted for is a memory I hold close to my heart. I remember the excitement bubbling in my tummy as I put on my brand-new white dress, the fabric stiff and the smell, you know it’s new. The air was filled with the sweet scent of dates, and everyone was giving Eid greetings as I walked to the mosque with my dad. I felt overwhelmed when I joined the large prayer gathering, but mostly I was proud of myself for completing Ramadan."

What is one dish your family always made to celebrate Eid?

Our Eid table wouldn't be complete without a steaming pot of Baghali Polo Lamb Shank with a side of succulent Khoresh (stew). This dish is more than just a delicious meal; it's a family tradition passed down from my grandfather. His recipe uses a unique blend of warming spices like turmeric and cinnamon, giving the rice a beautiful yellow hue and a depth of flavour that can't be replicated. For us, these dishes symbolise abundance and nourishment, a reminder of the blessings we receive throughout the year. It's a dish that brings the family together, filling both our bellies and our hearts with warmth and joy.

Chef Salam Dakkak - Bait Maryam - MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2022.jpg

Salam Dakkak - Palestinian

Bait Maryam, Dubai
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

“We normally start getting ready for Eid a week in advance, cleaning the house, preparing all the traditional desserts we normally have during the holidays. Of course, during the Eid holiday itself, the families go around visiting each other and we always look forward receiving our Eidiyya (Middle Eastern Arab tradition of gifting cash to children and family members) - mainly the tradition is the brothers go visit the married sisters and then vice versa so the entire family celebrate together. It's a very joyous occasion for us and we always look forward to it.

One of my favourite memories is the dress my mother, Maryam, used to prepare for us to wear during the Eid celebration. She always spent the last few days of Ramadan preparing mine and my siblings’ attires to make sure we're all ready for the celebrations. She always wanted us to be special, so she would make us our outfits herself. On the last day of Ramadan, each of us would hang our dress or outfit by our beds and go to bed in excitement impatiently waiting for the morning so we can wake up and start getting dressed - this is by far one of my favourite memories of my life.”

A display of traditional Levantine biscuits filled with date, pistachio and walnut. Credit: Bait Maryam
A display of traditional Levantine biscuits filled with date, pistachio and walnut. Credit: Bait Maryam

What is one dish your family always made to celebrate Eid?
Our favourite dishes to include during the Eid holidays are our traditional meat BBQ - or what we call Mashawi and Alayet Bandoura Bel Lahme. These dishes are always part of our spread and has sentimental relevance to us.

TRAVEL: Check-in to the UAE's must-visit escapes 

Mohammad Orfali - Orfali Bros - MICHELIN Guide Dubai.jpg

Mohammad Orfali - Syrian

Orfali Bros, Dubai
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

“Growing up, Eid al-Fitr was a special time for my family. We would begin the day by attending Eid prayers together, followed by a visit to the graveyard to pay respects to our departed loved ones. Then, we would gather at our family house for my grandma's breakfast spread.

Some of my earliest memories of Eid al-Fitr include the hustle and bustle of the day, the joyous atmosphere, and of course, the delicious food shared among family and friends. Eid was a time of togetherness, you visit family, they visit you, even those you haven’t met in a long time. So, the earliest memories of Eid al-Fitr for me are family, bonding, the spirit of sharing all over food.”

What is one dish your family always made to celebrate Eid?
Can’t possibly name one since Eid-al-Fitr for our family- in fact, every family means FEAST! We would have a breakfast spread of Maamuniyya, Shoabiyet, with salted Aleppian Stracciatella Cheese on side and Kaymak or Qashta. For lunch, we’d have two to three kinds of Kibbeh, absolute staple vine leaves which is called Yabrak. And for dessert we’d have Kaak el Eid, Karabij Halab and Natef and Maamoul.

Illustration image: Veliavik/iStock


Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading