Editor's note: Aktar Islam is one of Britain's premier chefs, specializing in South Asian cuisine. Born and bred in Birmingham, Islam's exposure to British cuisine and the strong influence from his Bangladeshi heritage have shaped his approach and unique style. He has won several awards including the BBC Great British Menu, and his restaurant Lasan won the Gordon Ramsey's Best Local Restaurant award.
Eid in the Islam household was always a very special occasion for me; it was when I'd get to see family and friends and, most of all, I could eat myself silly, gorging on amazing Asian food!
What sticks in the memory most was the build-up; this would begin several days prior to Eid - mum would be busy preparing the sauces and marinades which were invariably rich, vibrant reds and greens. The aromas emanating from the kitchen were so intense that our mouths watered in anticipation as our bellies simultaneously whined "are we there yet?"
The celebration of the Islamic holiday of Eid-ul-Adha is a reminder of whole-animal food preparation, an essential process throughout the developing world that is enjoying a renaissance in modern American dining.
Eid-ul-Adha – or Bakra Eid (Eid of the goat) as we called it – is a day on which Muslims around the world sacrifice cows and goats in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Growing up in Karachi, I remember trucks stopping door-to-door picking up animal skins, excited chatter about the treats we would soon enjoy, and visiting friends and family to share carefully packaged cuts of meat.
My appreciation and understanding for this tradition took on a new perspective two years ago when my grandmother visited me in Atlanta. My sister and I were discussing this crazy new food movement in the American south that used buzzwords like farm-to-table, organic, and whole-animal cuisine.
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.