To mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr. The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky and it is a huge social celebration where friends and families gather together. People wear their finest clothes and children are given gifts.

Having abstained from eating from sunrise to sunset for 30 days, the morning begins with a lavish family breakfast, which includes sweet and savoury treats, such as baghrir (pancakes). 

The feast continues at lunch, and most families will feature some form of a biryani as the main meal. Our version, below, features beef but you can easily swap it for lamb, or any other meat.

And a celebration without dessert is not a celebration at all. Check out our recipe for gulab jamun (sweet, deep-fried dumplings), which are traditionally served to end the meal.

Semolina pancakes (baghrir) with honey and mascarpone


Ingredients (makes about 40 pancakes)

250g (8oz) fine semolina
2 tsp flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
480ml (16fl oz) warm milk
500g (16oz) mascarpone cheese
4 tbsp honey, plus extra to serve
butter, for greasing
pistachio nuts, to serve

10 minutes preparation time and 30 minutes cooking time (plus 45 minutes proofing time)

1. In a large bowl, combine the semolina, flour, yeast, baking powder and sugar. Put the milk in a blender and add the dry ingredients. Whizz until the pancake mixture is combined and no lumps remain. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm, dry place for 45 minutes, until slightly risen and bubbles have formed on the surface.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the mascarpone with the honey and set aside. When you are ready to cook, whisk the pancake mixture – it should be the consistency of double cream. If it is too thick, add a little water.

3. Put a large nonstick pan over medium heat and grease with butter. Ladle some batter into the pan, tilting and swirling it around for an even layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom is set and many bubbles have formed on top. Using a fish slice, remove the pancake from the pan and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.

4. Dollop a spoonful of the honey and mascarpone mixture over each pancake, then fold it over to make a half moon; pinching the edges to seal. To serve, drizzle with a little more honey and scatter over the pistachios.

Beef kofta biryani


Ingredients (serves 4)

oil, for deep frying 
1kg (2lb) onions, finely sliced
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cardamom pods
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2·5cm (1in) piece ginger, grated
250ml (8fl oz) tomato paste
75ml (3fl oz) yoghurt, whipped
1 tbsp brown sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
4 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped
pickled onions, to serve
raita, to serve

For the koftas
300g (10oz) beef mince
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2·5cm (1in) piece ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red chilli powder

For the rice
350g (12oz) basmati rice, rinsed and soaked
1 cardamom pod
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp saffron
20 minutes preparation time and 2 hours cooking time

1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Deep-fry the onions, in batches, over a medium heat, until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper, using a fork to separate any clumps (this will help keep them crispy). Repeat with the remaining onions and set aside, until needed. Using the same oil, deep-fry the potatoes over a medium heat until cooked through and golden. Drain on paper towel and set aside, until needed.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, make the koftas by mixing the mince, garlic, ginger, chilli powder and 2 tbsp water, until combined. Season well. Roll the mixture into small balls around 2.5cm (1in) in diameter and drop into the boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. For the rice, bring another pan of salted water to the boil and drop in a cardamom pod. Cook the rice following the packet instructions, then drain. Leave for around 20 minutes, until dry.

3. Put the 2 tbsp milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar and add it to the milk. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds, then pour it over the dry rice; fluff with a fork. Set aside.

4. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the 3 tbsp sunflower oil over a medium heat and add the cloves, cinnamon stick, turmeric and cardamom pods. When the cardamom pods have puffed up, add the garlic, ginger and tomato paste. Add three quarters of the fried onions to the pan (reserving the rest to garnish), crushing them a little with a spoon, until they melt into the mixture.

5. Add 300ml (½pt) water and cook, partially covered, over a low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Add the yogurt and sugar; stir until combined. Add another 300ml (½pt) of water and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes more (adding more water, if needed). Add the fried potatoes and koftas for the last 10 minutes of cooking, making sure not to stir it too much otherwise the koftas will break up. 

6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Layer up the kofta mixture and rice in a deep, ovenproof dish. Start with a thin layer of gravy and koftas, followed by the rice, a handful of the reserved crispy onions, mint and coriander. Repeat, until everything has been used up, making sure the top layer is rice. Scatter over the remaining crispy onion, then cover with a lid or foil and cook bake for 20 minutes. Serve the biryani with pickled onions and raita.

Gulab jamun


Ingredients (makes 45 small balls)

325g (11oz) milk powder
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
2 pinches baking soda
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
200ml (1/3 pint) full fat milk
oil, for frying

For the syrup
350g (12oz) sugar
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tsp rose extract
chopped pistachios, to garnish

20 minutes preparation time and 15 minutes cooking time (plus 4-6 hours to infuse) 

1. Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, combine the milk powder, flour, baking soda, cardamom and milk, mixing to form a smooth dough. Set aside for 20 minutes to rest. Pull off small pieces of the dough and roll into balls, about 2.5cm (1in) wide.

2. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. To test if the oil is the right temperature for cooking, carefully drop in one ball. If it rises to the surface immediately, this means its ready. If it browns very quickly, reduce the heat slightly. Cook the balls until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Using a toothpick, poke 2 holes in each ball (this will allow the sugar syrup to soak in). Transfer the balls to a large, heatproof bowl.

3. To make the syrup, heat the sugar with 150ml (5fl oz) water. Add the saffron and simmer gently for 2-4 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the rose extract. Pour the liquid over the cooked dough balls and set aside for 4-6 hours to allow the syrup to seep in. Scatter over the pistachios to serve.

Sukaina 150x150

Sukaina Rajabali is a freelance food writer and photographer. She runs the Sips and Spoonfuls blog (http://sipsandspoonfuls.com) and lives in Dubai with her two children Maryam and Hassan and husband, Akber. 

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