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May 25, 2007 06:58 AM

?muslim holiday foods

anyone know of a cookbook or resource for muslim holiday foods? recipes? history (meaning - why is a dish traditional)? etc.
I do realize that regions may have their own specialties - that's great too - just looking to learn. a stop a barnes+noble left me empty handed. help please

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  1. Your question is like asking about "Asian holiday foods." The difference is more profound than regional specialities. You would need to narrow it to country & holiday first.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JudiAU

      ok. thanks. how about New Year's?
      someone told me there's a SE Asian chicken curry + rice dish that he believes to be for New Year's. I don't know the country, but would love to know the dish.
      that's the kind of thing I'm searching for. thanks

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. There is no "muslim holiday food" because there are so many different regions of the world that are muslim, that's like asking "christian holiday foods." Also, my impression from talking to various Muslims is that sure they feast during the holidays, but there aren't certain traditional foods that are eaten on that day. I think the religion is different in that respect. However you should be able to find plenty of "fancy" recipes from muslim countries that you could use in lieu of a specific holiday food.

        2 Replies
          1. re: sarapeater

            I asked a coworker of mine who is Muslim and orginally from Pakistan for cookbook suggestions. He suggested going to Indian or Pakistani restaurants. Many of them sell prepackaged spice mixes with easy to follow recipes on the back. If you are looking for something from that region, hopefully that helps.

        1. Pretty broad question. Twenty-nine percent of the world's population is Muslim. All over the place. Majority Muslim countries are as varied as Morocco, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Gambia, and Egypt. A lot of the former Soviet Union - the Stans - are majority Muslim as is most of North Africa and, of course, the Middle East. Food is all very different.

          The best advice I can give you for a starting place is foods for iftars, the traditional feasts served at Ramadan.
          I attended several every year when I worked at State Department, which hosts its own, and we were often invited reciprocally to many around town. The White House also hosts an iftar for the Muslims in the Diplomatic Corps. The foods served at those were Middle Eastern specialties.
          Eid is the day that marks the end of Ramadan so I'd check that as well. There are other Muslim holidays and I'm sure you'll find them and the foods associated with them in different countries as you research the topic. Thank Allah for the internet.

          1. I agree with the others who say that holiday foods are going to vary by region - you're going to be doing some reading :)

            However, there are two books that I'd strongly recommend (though neither are cookbooks).

            "Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village" by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, first published in the 60s, I believe. Elizabeth and her husband traveled to a rural village in Iraq in the 1950s, where her husband was conducting research (he's an anthropologist) - it was a closed Shiite community and Elizabeth had to conform to the traditions (including dress). She became a part of the women's community and offers insight into their lives, including discussions of food, tradition, and religion. It's a fascinating, enlightening read and should give you some good ideas. Another book by the same author is "A Street in Marrakech" which offers insights into a totally different community and set of traditions.

            My other recommendation is for "Daughter of Damascus: Taken from Ya Mal Al-Sham" by Siham Tergeman (now out of print but available used) - basically an adult woman's reflections on her childhood growing-up in Damascus. The language is flowery and meandering and lyrical - it reads like snippets of memories instead of a linearally-flowing narrative - I think that it's magical but some folks don't care for the style. Her desciptions of food and preparations for special feasts (in addition to religious holidays there's also a lot emphasis on childbirth, naming, weddings, funerals and mourning) are positively entrancing. (I actually recall her descriptions of a family picnic in the country-side, down to how they cut the melons!)

            1 Reply
            1. re: ElsieDee

              thank you. I very much appreciate all the help. these are great suggestions. I do not mind doing the reading, was just not sure of the books. the idea of a memoir is a good starting point.

              I'm discovering that there are not really muslim food holidays, with the exception of the feast that breaks the ramadan fast. I had a fantasy that there was a feast-of-seven-fishes or an oil-themed meal that somehow had escaped my radar, something I should know about, if you know what I mean.