Eid al-Fitr, commonly known as ‘Lebaran’ in Indonesia, is one of the most significant celebrations for Muslims. Within all of the joyful hubbubs, food is a big part of the day, where families spend most of the day gathering around the dining table, eating, and having a great time together. In Indonesia, the types of main staples that are being whipped out during Eid are abundant. From opor ayam, rendang, ketupat (diamond-shaped rice cake) to different kinds of cookies and snacks, most food selections people devour on holiday are not exactly light and healthy.
So, every time Eid comes, there will be days when I would regret devouring too much food and end up having no space for the ones I actually crave for. A wise strategy is needed to decide what goes into the breadbasket, especially when it comes to jars of Eid cookies lining up on the table. So, this year I decided to rank the iconic cookies I often find at my house during Eid (and most likely yours, as well). You can use it as a guide to deciding which is worth having or simply to compare your taste to mine, up to you!
My Best To Least Best Lebaran Cookies
Cheese Sago (Kue Sagu Keju)
If you’re like me and prefer sweet and salty nibbles, the cheese sago cake will hit the spot among any other Eid cookie options. They are made using sago flour, which has a delicate, somewhat sweet flavor and a distinct crumbly texture. This texture is complemented by the cheese’s savory flavor as well as the richness and nuttiness of the butter. Add a little sweetness from the sugar, these sago cheese cookies are a unique balance combination of sweet, savory, and slightly nutty with a beautiful swirl shape that deserves the first spot on my list.
The love for cheese is again met with another Eid miracle, Kastaangel. And weirdly, we have the Dutch to thank for it. The name refers to its ingredients and shape, where kaas means “cheese,” and stengels means “sticks.” With the golden exterior and shredded cheese topping, this “cookie” is truly inviting, and once you pop one, becomes addicting. Especially if you get one made traditionally with Edam (a type of Dutch Gouda), the tiny block of ‘cookies’ packs a punch of tantalizing nuttiness and sharpness from the cheese. Even if you’re not keen on strong cheeses, the subtler type of kastaangel made with parmesan or cheddar still makes a great savory finger food to snack.
Putri Salju (Vanillekipferl)
“Putri Salju,” which literally translates to “snow princess,” reigns a third place on my list. They are known in Austria/Germany as ‘vanillekipferl’ and are popular during Christmas (thus the snow), but they are also uniquely popular at Muslim festivals in Indonesia since the Dutch brought them over centuries ago. Aside from their beautiful appearance, these cookies are delightfully buttery, crumbly in a good way, and, though covered in powdered sugar, somehow managed not to get overly sweet. Though it can get quite messy to eat and potentially ruin your new clothes, I still can’t resist these snowy, melt-in-your-mouth sweets. Besides, after those stains of curry, red sambal, and opor, a speck of white sugar can’t hurt that much, right?
These thumbprint cookies are internationally popular, and they are surely a fun and festive addition to the Eid celebration. Though these shortbread cookies are delicious, I put this particular one in the middle for a reason. These thumbprint cookies are essentially a buttery vessel for a filling, be it a chocolate spread, fruit jam, or nut butter, and consequently, my ranking toward them can swing left and right, depending on what’s in the middle. But overall, there is no doubt that these are tasty and fun to eat. Even better, if you made it yourself, you could get as creative with the toppings and fillings as you’d like.
Here’s the thing about Nastar. It’s so iconic around the time of Eid that I can guarantee that almost 99% of houses have it during the season. So, it’s easy to find and usually plenty. If you find the good one, oh, they are the best. Buttery, a little sweet and tart, with neither flavor taking over too overwhelmingly. But with them being so ubiquitous, let’s be honest; people often just buy one from anywhere, and most of the time, well, they.. could be better. The not-so-good-ones can be a little dry, stick to the roof of your mouth, or, even worse, have a one-dimensional taste (either too acidic or just pure sugar). So, usually, if I’m not sure of the quality, I will choose another type rather than play the guessing game with the nastar.
Gem Rose (Kue Kembang Gula)
These cute little treats go by many names. From the ‘candy cake (kue kembang gula)’, and ‘button cookies (kue kancing)’ to ‘gem rose biscuits.’ They were a familiar snack that I often had when I was little. Nowadays, they are rarely found or sold, only sometimes tucked away in specialty cookie shops, or appear once a year on Eid day. Personally, this cookie holds a special place in my heart purely for the nostalgia point, and I’m sure many others who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s feel the same way. However, objectively, they are simply tiny plain biscuits topped with a colorful meringue swirl that is primarily made of sugar and can get too sweet most of the time.
Peanut Butter Cookies (Kue Kacang)
Well, first of all, I have to admit that the reason why these peanut butter cookies came in the last spot is mostly, totally personal reason. I don’t love peanuts because they can be so strong and take over any other flavor around, and that’s exactly what happened in this particular cookie. Compared to softer and crumblier cookies like nastar or putri salju, peanut butter cookie textures are also denser and drier, making it even less appealing for me, who prefers a lighter and flakier one. Also, there are so many more cookies with more exciting flavor combinations; why choose one that tastes like one thing?