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Celebrate with Tradition: Delicut's Festive Meal Plans

Immerse in the joy of festivals with our traditional meal plans, bringing the essence of celebration right to your table.

4 Easy Traditional Meal Plans for Festivals
Dec 7, 2023 | 5 min
4 Easy Traditional Meal Plans for Festivals

Celebrating festivals is not just about rituals and decorations; it's a feast for the senses, a time when traditional culinary delights take center stage. Across cultures, festivals are intrinsically tied to special foods that bring families and communities together in a joyous celebration of flavors, customs, and shared history. 

In this blog, we embark on a gastronomic journey, exploring four distinct traditional meal plans for festivals. These curated plans not only showcase the richness of diverse cuisines but also serve as a homage to the cultural significance embedded in each dish. 

Key Elements of Traditional Festival Meals 

Celebrating festivals is not just about the rituals and customs but also about coming together with loved ones to enjoy delicious meals. Traditional festival meals often carry deep cultural significance, reflecting the history, heritage, and flavors unique to a community. Here are some key elements that make these meals special:

  • Symbolic Dishes: Traditional festival meals often include dishes that hold symbolic importance. These may represent cultural beliefs, historical events, or blessings for the future.
  • Family Recipes: Passed down through generations, family recipes play a vital role in festival meals. These recipes carry a sense of nostalgia and connect younger generations with their culinary heritage.
  • Cultural Significance: Each dish may have a story or cultural significance associated with the festival. Understanding the meaning behind the ingredients and preparations adds depth to the dining experience.
  • Seasonal Ingredients: Festivals are often tied to specific seasons, and traditional meals reflect the use of seasonal ingredients. This not only ensures freshness but also aligns with nature's cycles.
  • Community Involvement: Traditional festival meals often involve a collaborative effort within the community. Whether it's a communal potluck or a shared cooking session, the sense of togetherness is integral.
  • Sweets and Treats: Festivals are synonymous with indulgence, and sweet treats hold a special place in traditional meals. These desserts are often unique to the festival and add sweetness to the celebrations.
  • Rituals and Customs: The act of preparing and sharing a meal is often accompanied by rituals and customs specific to the festival. These rituals enhance the overall experience and create lasting memories.
  • Variety and Abundance: Festival meals are known for their abundance and variety. It's a time to enjoy a diverse array of flavors, showcasing the culinary diversity within a culture.

Festive Delights in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, festivals are cherished occasions that bring together a tapestry of cultures, creating a unique blend of traditional dishes. Let's explore a meal plan that captures the essence of UAE celebrations, featuring iconic festivals and the delightful feasts that accompany them.

1. Eid al-Fitr 

Suhoor (Pre-dawn Meal):

  • Ful Medames: A hearty dish of fava beans cooked with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Served with warm Arabic bread, it provides sustained energy for the day ahead.
  • Dates and Water: A customary start to Suhoor, offering natural sweetness and hydration.

Iftar (Breaking the Fast):

  • Lamb Biryani: Fragrant basmati rice layered with succulent lamb, aromatic spices, and garnished with fried onions and mint.
  • Harees: A traditional dish of slow-cooked wheat and meat porridge, creating a comforting and filling Iftar option.
  • Luqaimat: Sweet dumplings, deep-fried to golden perfection, and drizzled with date syrup or honey.

Preparation Tips:

  • Marinate the lamb for biryani in a blend of yogurt and spices for enhanced flavor.
  • Cook the harees slowly to achieve a smooth and creamy texture.
  • Serve luqaimat warm for a delightful sweet finish to the Iftar meal.

Note: Adjust portion sizes based on the number of guests and personal preferences.

2. National Day Celebrations 


  • Balaleet: A sweet and savory dish featuring vermicelli cooked with eggs, saffron, and cardamom, topped with fried onions. This dish pays homage to Emirati breakfast traditions.


  • Al Harees: A celebratory dish synonymous with important occasions in the UAE. It involves slow-cooking a mixture of meat, wheat, and a pinch of salt until it reaches a thick, porridge-like consistency.


  • Grilled Fish with Harees Rice: A lighter option for the evening, showcasing the region's love for fresh seafood. Grilled fish is served alongside a bed of flavorful harees rice.


  • Chabab Bread with Cream Cheese: A delightful snack featuring Emirati pancake-style bread, chabab, paired with a spread of cream cheese.

Preparation Tips:

  • Infuse saffron strands in warm water for the balaleet for a vibrant color and aromatic flavor.
  • When preparing al harees, ensure a slow and consistent cooking process for a smooth texture.
  • Grill the fish with a blend of local spices for an authentic taste.

Note: Adjust portion sizes based on preferences and the number of people celebrating.

3. Diwali


  • Poha: A light and flavorful breakfast dish made with flattened rice, turmeric, mustard seeds, and topped with fresh coriander and lemon.


  • Chana Masala: A delicious curry featuring chickpeas cooked in a rich blend of tomatoes, onions, and aromatic spices.


  • Biryani: A festive biryani with fragrant basmati rice, succulent pieces of chicken, and a medley of spices. Garnished with fried onions and fresh mint.


  • Samosas: Triangular pastries filled with spiced potatoes and peas, deep-fried until golden and crispy.


  • Gulab Jamun: Soft, melt-in-the-mouth milk dumplings soaked in a cardamom-infused sugar syrup.

Preparation Tips:

  • Pre-soak the flattened rice for poha to achieve the perfect texture.
  • Simmer the chana masala on low heat to let the flavors meld.
  • Layer the biryani with care, ensuring each grain of rice is infused with the aromatic spices.
  • Fry samosas until they are golden brown and crispy.
  • Prepare gulab jamun with a focus on achieving a soft and syrupy texture.

Note: Adjust spice levels and portion sizes based on personal preferences.

4. UAE Independence Day


  • Khameer Bread with Chebab: Soft and slightly sweet khameer bread served with chebab, a traditional Emirati pancake, accompanied by date syrup.


  • Al Harees: A special UAE dish made with meat, wheat, and a blend of local spices, slow-cooked until it forms a rich and hearty porridge.


  • Mandi: A fragrant rice dish with tender, slow-cooked lamb, flavored with a mix of traditional spices and served with a side of tangy tomato chutney.


  • Luqaimat: Small, sweet dumplings drizzled with date syrup or honey, a delightful Emirati treat.


  • Esh as-Saraya: A luscious bread pudding dessert topped with a layer of creamy qaimar (clotted cream) and a sprinkle of pistachios.

Preparation Tips:

  • Ensure the khameer bread is soft and freshly made.
  • Slow-cook al harees to achieve a creamy consistency.
  • Infuse the mandi with a mix of aromatic spices for an authentic flavor.
  • Fry luqaimat until golden and coat with sweet syrup.
  • Layer esh as-saraya with care for a visually appealing dessert.

Note: Adjust sweetness levels and spice preferences according to personal taste.


As we partake in these festive feasts, we not only savor flavors passed down through generations but also immerse ourselves in the collective heritage of our communities. Traditional festival meals become a canvas where the artistry of culinary traditions is painted with the brushstrokes of history, culture, and a deep sense of belonging.

So, whether you're celebrating Eid al-Fitr, National Day, Diwali, UAE Independence Day, or any other festival, relish the dishes' taste and the stories they tell. Let the shared joy around the table echo the enduring spirit of cultural celebrations, fostering a sense of unity, gratitude, and connection that transcends borders and generations.


1. What are some traditional meal plans for festivals that are easy to prepare?

Traditional festival meals can be made easy by focusing on signature dishes that require minimal preparation and using time-saving techniques like prepping ingredients in advance.

2. How can I incorporate cultural diversity into my festival meal plans?

Embrace cultural diversity by exploring recipes from different traditions, incorporating diverse ingredients, and blending flavors to create a fusion of culinary delights that celebrate various cultural influences.

3. Are there any specific dietary considerations for festival meal plans, such as vegetarian or gluten-free options?

Traditional festival meal plans can easily accommodate dietary preferences. For vegetarian options, explore plant-based versions of traditional dishes, and for gluten-free needs, choose naturally gluten-free ingredients or alternatives.

4. Can you provide examples of traditional festival meal plans from different cultures?

For Diwali: Include dishes like Chana Masala, Vegetable Biryani, and Gulab Jamun.

For Eid al-Fitr: Savor classics like Lamb Biryani, Chicken Kebabs, and Sheer Khurma.

For Thanksgiving: Indulge in Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, and Pumpkin Pie.

5. What are some simple and quick festival meal ideas for people with busy schedules?

Opt for simpler versions of traditional dishes, consider one-pot recipes, and leverage pre-packaged or pre-prepared ingredients for quicker preparation during busy schedules.

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About The Author

Maurice Maffeo
Culinary Director, Delicut

Chef Maurice Maffeo has over 30 years of experience in the culinary world. He has been executive chef to top names in the middle east like Carlucios and Cafe Bateel and Strada Group of Restaurants in the UK.

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