Eidul Azha: Of cattle and cuisines

Published: November 6, 2011
Take a look at the various dishes eaten around the world during the three-day festivities. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

Take a look at the various dishes eaten around the world during the three-day festivities. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID


For Muslims across the world Eidul Azha marks the end of the Hajj.  Also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid”, it has varying traditions associated with it in different countries but the spirit of celebration remains the same for all Muslims. Food is central to the celebrations, and often are in the form of elaborate family feasts.


In Morocco, Eidul Azha is referred to as Eid alKabir (big holiday) and after Eid prayers families either convene for the sacrifice or do it individually at their own homes. Prior to this, they will enjoy a breakfast with herbel (wheat and milk soup) and harsha (semolina pancakes).

Hafsa Soussi, a 28-year-old school teacher states, “It’s a tradition to prepare organ meats such as the liver and heart on the day of the sacrifice, which is generally the first day of Eid. The next few days include meatier dishes like steamed lamb and mrouzia (a beef casserole with raisins).

In Somalia xalwo or halwa, made from sugar, cornstarch, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder, is a popular confection served during Eid celebrations. Yasmin Suleyman, a 23-year-old art student, reminisces about her Eid festivities as a child in Somalia, “We would travel to our village on Eidul Azha and sacrifice cows or a camel there and distribute some of the meat amongst the poor. My mother would let the meat slowly cook overnight and on the second day of Eid she would make meat pies from the camel mincemeat”.

Similarly, Eid for Nigerian Muslims is also all about community gathering.  Amala — prepared from dried yam powder which is boiled and made like semolina — is the common Eid meal. It is eaten along with condiments. “Mulokhia (a green herb) is prepared with different kinds of pepper and tomato along with meat,” said Om Abdussamad, a Nigerian homemaker. “We also have something similar to Indian biryani, but less spicy called jellof,” she said, reported thepeninsulaqatar.com

Middle East

Apart from the obvious meat dishes present on the table, sweets are particularly popular. Iraqis make a rosewater-scented, date-filled pastry called klaicha. A similar cookie called mamoul, served in Lebanon and Syria, is filled with dates or ground walnuts. Palestinians make a butter cookie with almonds or pine nuts called ghraybeh.

In Saudi Arabia, “You will always find small dishes that contain different types of tateema” (platter of olive variations, cheese, honey, jam and different breads). On the other hand, shakshookah, a Saudi variation of scrambled eggs  mixed with vegetables, is made minutes before Eid breakfast as it needs to be served hot,” states Ahmad Khalifa, a Saudi businessman.


Although the majority of European population comprises of Christians, eastern Europe consists of a large Muslim population, especially residing in the “tan” countries.

Eid is known as Orozo Ait in Kyrgyztan and sees, “Dishes of fruit, candy and salads placed on the table for self-service. The family feasts on plov (a traditional dish with rice, carrots and sheep meat), “reveals Yaqubov, a college student.

In Turkey, dishes often eaten at Eid include “bulgur kospe (cracked wheat parcel, filled with mincemeat and deep fried) and hellimli-zeypinli bitta (haloumi and olive bread)”, states aspiring Turk musician Elkin Ali. However desserts are more popular on Eid. Things like baclava, lokma (deep fried syrupy dumplings), sutlu borek (very thin pastry, covered in syrup), ekmek kadayifi (bread pudding) and kurabiye (a biscuit, dusted with icing sugar) are very popular.


Pakistanis like to devour all the meaty delacacies like kaleji (kindneys), maghaz masala (brain curry), nihari (beef curry) and paye ka salan (sticky curry made from goat hooves). Sejal Tariq, a homemaker, reveals, “I’m very finicky, never liked eating qurbani ka ghosht, so Eidul Azha is a time for me to turn vegetarian.” Seviyan, or vermicelli noodles, kheer (rice pudding) and sheer khurma are the traditional Eid breakfast in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

In Malaysia, Eid is called Hari Raya. Beef rendang and nasi lemak (spicy meat curry cooked with coconut) are the highlights of Eid. Ayam masak merah — slow braised fried chicken with sweetish tomato and chilli gravy is also famous in the southern parts of Malaysia, reports tourismmalaysia.com.

Smriti Husain, a Bangladeshi based in the UK, states that “Desserts like feerni, kheer are eaten for breakfast! For lunch usually we prepare polao, beef rejala, chicken roast, beef masala and different types of salad. Some prepare haleem as an afternoon snack.”

Did you know?

1. Eidul Azha is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the last month of Islamic calendar.


2. In Pakistan alone nearly 10 million animals are slaughtered on Eid days costing over $3 billion, reports asiancoresspondent.com.


3. The Muslim population around the world in 2011 is estimated to be 2.1 billion, reports islamicpopulation.com


4. Eidul Azha falls approximately 70 days (two months and 10 days) after Eidul Fitr.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Ali
    Nov 6, 2011 - 11:19PM

    1) ‘tan’ countries are not Europe but Central Asia
    2) kaleji is not ‘kindneys’ but the liver. Kidneys are called gurdas.
    3) What about the largest Islamic country Indonesia?


  • Homa
    Nov 7, 2011 - 5:24AM

    KARMA and cycles of violence–Torturing animals for sacrifice is bad karma and cruel. It creates the karma of violence and bloodshed. When an animal is killed it undergoes a lot of pain, fear, anger, frustration and other negative emotions. These negative emotions trigger the release of physiological toxins into the flesh of the animal being killed. When people eat the flesh of the animal, they also absorb these chemicals, emotions, the pain, hate and the stress of the dying animal into their own body and this toxicity becomes a part of their physiology and also becomes a part of their karmic baggage.


  • Khan
    Nov 7, 2011 - 7:47AM


    are you suggesting we all become vegetarians/vegans?


  • sweet dee
    Nov 7, 2011 - 9:31AM


    Go cry to PETA


  • Sana
    Nov 7, 2011 - 1:53PM

    I have a question. Do you mean it in philosophical sense or does this happen really?


  • Khan of quetta
    Nov 7, 2011 - 4:13PM

    Dont forget to give it to the poor YOURSELF


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 7, 2011 - 8:48PM

    Bakra chef look good but little tired…


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 7, 2011 - 8:51PM

    First i cry then laughed like hell.hahahahahhahah karama of eating meat…..


  • whocareswhoami
    Nov 7, 2011 - 9:16PM

    Pakis should have spent the $3 billion in the economic restructuring of their country. Allah has always commanded that one shouldnt beg unless all other sources of earning have dried up. Very sorry to see an Islamic state not following the main principles of Islam.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 7, 2011 - 11:59PM

    Bakra (goat) look like taliban beard bakra.


  • kris
    Nov 8, 2011 - 12:33AM

    What a sad day for Animals. God never said Muslims should do this every year or never said, he likes this sacrifice either. Is it really a sacrifice? How? What we did is, spent few hundred rupees from our part. That’s our sacrifice! For the Goad it is her life and brutal death. Thank you GOD, you didn’t accept Abraham’s son itself. Then imagine, what would have happened then…


  • Faraz Talat
    Nov 8, 2011 - 12:42PM

    Homa, I’m a strong advocate of vegetarianism (even though I’m a meat-eater myself), but what you just said is plain, superstitious nonsense.

    We don’t need an elaborate tale of psychogenic toxins to help us understand that causing tremendous pain and suffering to animals is unconscionable, especially when we have perfectly good and healthy food alternatives available.


  • aqs 64
    Nov 8, 2011 - 1:48PM

    in-spite some errors ..it is a good source of information


  • Nov 8, 2011 - 6:17PM



  • antony
    Nov 8, 2011 - 7:17PM

    @Kris , I wish atleast it is written that way in the book as you have feared .I imagined the world to have less population of one kind offered as sacrifice every Eid ..Its the power of Love towards Allah by our fellow human beings Recommend

  • Homa
    Nov 8, 2011 - 8:10PM

    @Faraz Talat: Karma (law of cause and effect) is not superstition (expecting virgins in heaven certainly is!). Every choice made, every action produces vibrations that attract similar consequences/results/ experiences down the road. Also, ones consciousness is influenced by what one eats, its a subtler law of nature. You are what you eat, what you eat becomes you, and you become what you eat — in terms of the energetics. Research in Consciousness Studies is independently confirming this. By the way, if you feel revulsed by the brutality, feel compassion towards animals and and are a strong advocate of vegetarianism, more power to you. You are right, we have no excuse — there are lots of healthy alternatives available, especially in our cultures. Go on a light vegetarian diet for two weeks and see for yourself how clear, peaceful, energized and cleansed your body and mind will feel as the system gets detoxed through a balanced and healthy – and preferably organic – vegetarian diet.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 8, 2011 - 11:51PM

    Can you lived in MInus 3 digrees cold on vegies please i wanna know…???I bet u will be
    yellow and allmost dead by evening.


  • Sharma
    Nov 9, 2011 - 1:21AM


    I live on complete vegeterian diet in -25 degree celcius!!

    I completely agree with homa.

    Are we not human enough ?killing bad animal is bad karma!!

    I am seeing that europe and america is getting more vegeterian and india which was 40% vegeterian is becoming more western!!

    I wish to pray for world where there is no crime against any living beings.
    We all live with love;the very basic concept of universal brotherhood preached by sanatan dharma!!


  • Homa
    Nov 9, 2011 - 8:47AM

    @Ali Tanoli: Do u live in the north pole?


  • Homa
    Nov 9, 2011 - 9:13AM

    A proper vegetarian diet does not mean you eat only vegetables. It includes a balance of The following: whole grains (rice, wheat, barley, oats, quinoa, corn, millet, spelt, kamut, ragi etc,) diverse legumes, peas, beans, pulses/lentils, fresh vegetables, various leafy greens, fresh and dried fruits of varied kinds, nuts, seeds, natural cold pressed oils, unprocessed natural sugar/sweeteners, balancing roots, herbs, spices, with an emphasis on variety and freshness, and handled with reverence, hygiene and awareness. Water and Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt etc. incorporated according to ayurvedic guidelines for radiant physical, intellectual and emotional health. (Also no artificial colors, chemicals, preservatives etc.)


  • Nov 9, 2011 - 12:13PM

    @Homa: what about the chicken beef meat all eat daily ????
    whole world is not vegetarians… lol stupid comment


  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 9, 2011 - 9:51PM

    How many peoples in america are vegies can u tell me % please what i know america is
    world biggest beef consuming counrty.
    @Homa Hakeem ji,
    Please can u tell me why even doctors told me eating meat is healthy why they say???Recommend

  • Homa
    Nov 10, 2011 - 8:31AM

    Lahore –Dozens of people ended up in hospital with stomach problems during the Eid holidays.
    A doctor at the Mayo Hospital emergency ward said that 90 percent of the patients that came in during the Eid holidays had gastroenteritis. Some of them were hepatitis C patients who fainted after eating too much red meat, he said. “Others suffered from indigestion due to over-eating,” he added.//

    Tribune news item nov 10, 2011


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