How American Chefs Are Celebrating Eid, From Playful Desserts to Lavish Feasts

How American Chefs Are Celebrating Eid, From Playful Desserts to Lavish Feasts

On a recent Monday evening in Manhattan, a flurry of guests in richly embroidered lehengas, sherwanis, and kaftans swirled around Bungalow, a stylish new restaurant from celebrity chef Vikas Khanna—who previously earned a Michelin star at Junoon—for a lavish iftar dinner to mark the end of a day of fasting. “I feel so honored to be cooking for you, especially during this holy month,” he said as he surveyed the gathering.

“Ramadan is a special month for Muslims worldwide,” says restaurateur Jimmy Rizvi, who partnered with Khanna to open Bungalow in its sprawling East Village location last month. “There needs to be more awareness of who we are as Muslims and where we come from, and to inform and educate people who might not know about Ramadan and Eid.”

How American Chefs Are Celebrating Eid, From Playful Desserts to Lavish Feasts

Bungalow’s signature dessert, Eid Ka Chand, is a celebration of the brotherhood of Muslims in India.

Bungalow

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Bungalow, which opened in New York’s East Village in March, celebrates Indian home cooking.

Bungalow

There is a thriving, diverse population of approximately 4.5 million Muslims in the United States, and while the U.S. Postal Service may have issued an Eid stamp back in 2001, it’s only in recent years that Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha have entered mainstream American consciousness. The New York area is home to nearly 10 percent of the country’s population, and Khanna and Rizvi are eager to make Bungalow a hub for Muslims in the city as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, this year on April 10.

In addition to this iftar dinner, they’ll also be hosting an Eid gala with Gold House, and Khanna is introducing a signature dessert for the holiday. Called Eid Ka Chand—”the Eid moon”—the parfait has a date kheer from Mumbai as its base and is layered with pistachio phirni from Delhi, seviyan (vermicelli pudding) from Lucknow, and rose mousse from Kashmir, all crowned with khubani ka meetha (apricot-based dessert served with cream) from Hyderabad. Khanna, who is Hindu, came up with the idea with Rizvi’s mother, Suraiya. “We kept discussing the different traditions of Eid in India, and the next morning I created a parfait celebrating the brotherhood of Muslims in India,” Khanna says.

Given the important role food plays in the holy month of Ramadan and in the Eid feast that follows it, chefs across the country have found creative ways to celebrate in a uniquely American context. For Umber Ahmad, the Pakistani American banker-turned-baker behind the New York patisserie Mah-ze-Dahr, Eid has always been about family—and in New York, that often means your chosen family. “Eid in New York is an opportunity to celebrate with friends,” she says. “Losing both of my parents, it feels as though now the responsibility and honor of creating ongoing traditions has fallen to our generation.”

On April 9, Ahmad will host Mah-ze-Dahr’s first-ever chaand raat (“moon night”) celebration, her spin on a popular tradition that takes place across South Asia the evening before Eid: “People get together to eat great food, listen to music, go shopping, and make preparations for Eid the next day,” she says. Mah-ze-Dahr’s chaand raat at Brookfield place in Downtown Manhattan will have henna artists, jewelry sourced from Pakistan, activities for children, and samosas and sliders from Lahori Kabab and BK Jani alongside her signature treats.

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Umber Ahmad, the Pakistani American baker behind New York patisserie Mah-ze-Dahr

Stephen Kent Johnson

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Baked goods at Mah-ze-Dahr

Rey Lopez/Mah-Ze-Dahr

The response has been overwhelming; Ahmad had envisioned about 50-100 people at the event, and she received more than 500 RSVPS within days of announcing it. “In New York, there isn’t a lot of attention paid to Muslim holidays. I want people to understand the beauty and storytelling and heritage we have in our culture,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate fun, festive, happy parts of our culture, and for non-Muslims to experience the best of who we are.”