September 10th, 2010
02:00 AM ET
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CNN Producer Amir Ahmed and wife Mona Megahed share the story of how their family celebrates Eid al-Fitr - the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. From dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings. Click through the gallery above for images of Eid fare around the world.

Ramadan and Eid are special times of the year when people from various parts of the globe enjoy cooking and sharing their traditional foods. Muslim families typically break their fast together and savor the scrumptious meals that have been prepared that day. We have tried a variety of traditional food during this Ramadan but we must admit; our favorite is the Egyptian cuisine. Perhaps we are biased because we trace our roots to the Middle East.

Breaking the fast is a truly social event. At dawn, typically Egyptian families invite friends and relatives to break their fast with either dates or a drink of "Qamar-eddeen" - an apricot juice with small bits of different dried fruit and nuts.

The delicious drink – almost exclusively served during Ramadan – is supposed to supply the body with a much needed dose of sugar after many hours of fasting. It contains raisins and bits of figs, dates, apricots, pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Next on the table is a traditional bowl of lentil soup, which is also common among Mediterranean and Arab nations. Egyptians squeeze lemons on it and add extra garlic.

One of the most popular main dishes during this holy month is "mahshi." Rice, parsley, dill, tomato juice, and diced tomatoes are mixed together and rolled in either grape leaves or cabbage leaves . Some choose to stuff carrots, bell peppers , squash or white eggplant with the same ingredients giving these vegetables a distinct and flavor.

If you want to truly speak of a distinct Egyptian dish, then it has to be molokhia. This vegetable, the leaf of the jute tree, is diced into chicken broth with garlic, dried cilantro, salt and pepper. It is made into a slimy green soup, but the taste is addictive.

Another dish that is unique to Egyptian culture is the famous mesaka’a. Turks make a similar dish to it called moussaka. It is made of fried eggplant that is left to dry before adding ground beef, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, tomato sauce, and onions. The key to good mesaka’a is to drain the eggplant after frying it. It makes for a delicious, yet low calorie alternative for all the health-conscious folks out there.

Another must-have and easy-to-make dish is "batatis bil frakh." This translates simply to potatoes with chicken. One slices the potatoes into five or six pieces, adds a little bit of diced onion, tomato sauce, chicken broth and pieces of chicken. After 30-40 min of cooking in the oven it is ready to serve.

Ramadan is well known for its many unique and rich desserts. "Kahk" is definitely on top of the list. "Kahk" is Middle Eastern sugar cookies, made only twice a year to mark the end of Ramadan and the Hajj festivities. Parents usually get together with their young ones and turn the making of "kahk" into a family event. The children enjoy playing with the dough and throwing the sugar atop the sweet smelling cookies. Most of all, they enjoy biting into the sugar cookies and have them melt in their little mouths.

Do you celebrate Ramadan? Share your stories on iReport.

Previously - An iReporter breaks the fast with Iftar

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Egyptian • Eid • Holidays • Middle Eastern • Ramadan • Ramadan

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soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. wpolscemamymocneseo

    this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this also – taking time and real effort to make a good article. Really what I needed. Thanks I have been looking for this sort of info for a long time.

    January 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Katy

    I just want to point out to many folks that food is not religious e.g. Islamic, Hindu, Jewish etc, but cultural. Many Jews eat similar foods as Muslim Arabs e.g. Hummus because they all live in the Middle East. Similarly, there is overlap between between Pakistani and Indian food even though Pakistan is Muslim and India is Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian and others. To call a food Islamic is nonsensical. Finally, there is a picture of wrapped candy too - Islamic? I think not - global.

    September 12, 2010 at 10:43 am |
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