The Turkish Tradition of 'Kurban Bayramı,' Or Eid el-Adha

It's A Great Time To Enjoy Classic Turkish Cuisine

The Festival of Eid el-Adha, better known in Turkish as ‘Kurban Bayramı’ (koor-BAHN’ buy-RAHM’-uh), or the ‘sacrifice festival,’ is considered by many as the most important Islamic holiday of the year. Depending on the lunar calendar and the days of the week on which it falls, it usually results in a four to five-day public holiday throughout Turkey each year.

What Is ‘Kurban Bayramı’?

‘Kurban Bayramı,’ as the name suggests, celebrates the story of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of his son on...MORE Mount Moriah, which proved his utter obedience to God. According to the story in both the Holy K’uran and the Bible, God stops Abraham's hand at the last moment and directs him to a ram for sacrifice in place of his son while praising him for his faithfulness.

On the first day of the festival, the ritual of providing a lamb or steer for sacrifice by the head of the household keeps this tradition alive today. A simple meal is made from the meat where friends and family are invited to share. The excess meat and the hide are donated then donated to charity.

What To Eat During The Festival

Like other religious holidays and celebrations, ‘Kurban Bayramı’ is a time when families and friends gather and spend time with one another. Entertaining, eating and feeding the needy are a large part of the festival’s traditions.

Naturally, it’s a great time to enjoy classic Turkish cuisine, regional cooking, and traditional family recipes. Famlies enjoy a full course meal including a traditional Turkish soup to start, followed by the main course of meat and side dishes made with rice or bulgur.

One or more vegetable dishes made with olive oil are usually available for sampling toward the end of the meal.For dessert, traditional desserts like baklava, ‘şekerpare’ and ‘ekmek kadayıfı’ are usually presented after a good cup of Turkish coffee or tea.

For a rundown of some of the most common dishes served during Eid al-Adha, or ‘Kurban Bayramı.’

  • 01 of 06
    Turkish wedding soup has rich lamb flavor with a slight tang of lemon. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Soup is always served at the beginning of the meal. Go for classic recipes like the ones here.

  • 02 of 06

    Meat Recipes Suitable For ‘Kurban Bayramı’

    'Tandır' is an ancient way of pit-roasting meat from central Asia. In Turkish cuisine, 'tandır' refers to any meat roasted over coals, in the oven or on the stovetop. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Many families who don’t eat much red meat throughout the year are able to enjoy the meat donated to charity during the festival. Here are some meat recipes served during ‘Kurban Bayramı.’

    • Tencere Kavurması
    • Saç Kavurması
    • 'Hunkar Beğendi', or stewed meat over hot eggplant mash
    • 'Kuzu Tandır,' or roasted lamb shank
    • 'İslim Kebabı,' or oven-baked lamb and eggplant wraps
  • 03 of 06

    Side Dishes To Go With ‘Kavurma’ And Other Meats

    Bulgur pilaf with tomatoes, onions and peppers makes a delicious, hearty side dish. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012

    Side dishes rich in carbohydrates are always part of the Festival table along with the meat. Here are some of the most popular.

    • Bulgur & Vegetable Pilaf
    • Rice Pilaf With Orzo
    • Turkish stuffed peppers
    • Stuffed vine leaves
    • Layered Yufka & Cheese Pastry, Or 'Börek'
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    Vegetable Dishes With Olive Oil

    Romano, better known as Italian flat green beans, prepared Turkish-style. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012

    Turkish vegetable dishes are usually cooked in olive oil and served cold. Here are some ‘Kurban Bayramı’ favorites.

    • Romano Beans in olive oil
    • Pinto beans in tomato sauce
    • İmam Bayıldı, or Turkish vegetarian stuffed eggplant
    • Leeks and carrots in olive oil
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Festival Dessert Recipes

    Baklava made with pistachio nuts is the finest kind of baklava in Turkish cuisine. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

     ‘Kurban Bayramı’ is a time when traditional desserts take the forefront. The best choices are desserts steeped in syrup or classic milk desserts.

    • Baklava
    • 'Şekerpare,' or semolina cookies steeped in syrup
    • Revani
    • Ekmek Kadayıfı, or Turkish bread and cream dessert
    • Sütlaç, or baked rice pudding
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    Beverage Recipes

    tea-cups
    Authentic Turkish tea is a deep red color. It's served in tulip-shaped glasses with saucers. Photo © Westend61_Getty Images

     Anything but alcoholic beverages can be consumed along with the meat. The meal is always topped off with Turkish coffee or tea.

    • Turkish coffee
    • Turkish tea
    • Ayran, or plain yogurt drink
    • Beet juice, or ‘şalgam suyu’
    • Lemonade
    • Soft drinks and juice