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Fun & Festive Eid Recipes

August 4th, 2013 4 comments

Date-Filled Ma'amoul for Eid

Can you believe Eid al-Fitr is almost here? It seems only last week we were starting the month of Ramadan. No worries. There’s still time to gather ingredients and prepare some festive treats for Eid. For detailed step-by-step recipes, click on the links below.

Ma’amoul

For me, it’s not Eid without beautiful little ma’amoul pastry dusted with powdered sugar. I’ve been making the same Date-filled Ma’amoul every Eid for years. My husband’s family has finally embraced my all-flour version and has stopped pressing me to add semolina (smeed).  After all, there’s more than one way to make ma’amoul!

Date-filled Ma'amoul

I’ve also started making Pistachio and Walnut-filled Ma’amoul, which I love just as much—especially the pistachio ma’amoul which I’m a bit obsessed with. Before I made this, I had assumed (wrongly) that the nut-filled ma’amoul would be somehow trickier than the date kind. Actually, chopped nuts are faster & easier, partly because there are no dates to pit. 

Ma'amoul filled with Walnuts

Ma'amoul filled with Pistachios

I use the same dough in both ma’amoul, regardless of the filling, so it’s easy to make some of each kind—date, pistachio & walnut.

Arabic Coffee 

But what to serve with the ma’amoul? Arabic Coffee, of course! In the Gulf, this is the standard beverage served alongside pastries at Eid (along with a helping of gossip).

Arabic Coffee for Eid

I’m not talking about dark Turkish coffee, but the pale coffee served in tiny handle-less cups, made from greenish coffee beans and scented with cardamom, rose water and saffron. This is the standard welcoming beverage served in Dubai and the Arabian Gulf (with some regional variations). It’s the classic Eid beverage, elegantly served in a della or Arabian-style thermal flask.

Date Truffles

If you’d like to avoid the richness of ma’amoul pastry, I have a (somewhat) healthier alternative: Date Truffles. This is a terrific Eid sweet because it’s delicious and looks festive, but without the fattening pastry.

Date Truffles

Rose Lemonade

In case you’d like to offer your guests a cool beverage, here’s something fun: Rose Lemonade. You can adjust the taste to make it as sweet or as tart as you like.

Rose Lemonade

Meanwhile, enjoy these last special days of Ramadan. Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Eid and deciding which pastry to eat next. Wishing you a beautiful & blessed Eid!

Question: What are you serving up this Eid?

What I’m Serving this Eid

August 17th, 2012 14 comments

Tomorrow I will begin preparing my date-filled ma’amoul. I make these pastries every Eid and only at Eid time, something I have been doing for many years. Mine are made with an all-flour dough (no semolina), which is not so different from American pie dough… aside from the rose water. I load them with high-quality dates and stamp them out with a mold.

For some Eids, I have made more than a hundred of these little babies. You can find my step-by-step recipe for date-filled ma’amoul here.

Meanwhile, last year for the first time I stepped out of my rut tradition and made nut-filled ma’amoul—which I love just as much, especially the pistachio-filled pastries (below).

Then again, the walnut-filled ma’amoul (below) are pretty swell, too. You can find my illustrated recipe for nut-filled ma’amoul here.

This year I plan to make loads of ma’amoul to put in tins and give to neighbors and the men who run the dukan (little grocery store) by my house. I will also serve them to guests who come to my home over the Eid holiday— friends and my husband’s family. But what to serve the ma’amoul with?

Arabic coffee, of course!

I’m not talking about dark Turkish coffee, but the pale coffee served in tiny handle-less cups, made from greenish coffee beans and scented with cardamom, rose water and saffron. This is the standard welcoming beverage served in Dubai and the Arabian Gulf (with some regional variations). It’s the classic Eid beverage, elegantly served in an Arabian-style thermal flask. You can find my recipe for Arabic coffee here.

In addition to nuts, fruit and fatayer, I’m going to serve something new: rose lemonade—just to have something different up my sleeve. Find the easy recipe for rose lemonade here.

I also plan to prepare and serve date truffles (below) as an Eid sweet for the first time this year. After I stuff myself with ma’amoul, I can switch to this (somewhat) healthier option. Find the date truffle recipe is here.

So far, I’ve only mentioned food served to guests. We also have a tradition for breakfast on the first morning of Eid. For me, the high point is American coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls. I prep the cinnamon rolls the night before (typically around midnight) and put them in the oven Eid morning. You can find the recipe I use for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from Williams and Sonoma.

Yes, I admit, my Eid is very heavy on the sweets and desserts. What about the main course, you might be wondering… Well, that we eat in a restaurant!

Question: What are you preparing/serving/eating/drinking this Eid?

Nut-Filled Ma’amoul ~ Easier than you think

November 4th, 2011 10 comments

Eid after Eid I’ve been making date-filled ma’amoul pastry, thinking the nut-filled pastry would too tricky. I imagined the nuts spilling all over and the pastries falling apart. So, I stuck with date filling.

Now I know better. The nut-filled ma’amoul are not only exquisite, but to my amazement, they are easier. No spills or falling apart. Think of time I could have saved! And all the pistachio-filled pastries I could have enjoyed!

Compared to the date-filled ma’amoul, the nut-filled ones are a breeze. It takes minutes to chop the nuts and mix them with some sugar and flavorings. Meanwhile, it takes hours to pit and shape the date ball fillers. If only I had known!

At Bit of Background

Ma’amoul are delicate little stuffed pastries that are served all over the Arab world for Eid and Easter. They have several fillings—dates, walnuts or pistachios—and they come in a variety of shapes. Sometimes they are made with semolina, sometimes flour. Last Eid I posted my recipe for date-filled ma’amoul.

I use a special wooden mold to shape my ma’amoul. I’ve noticed  that the round shallow molds are for dates, while oval molds are for pistachios  and deeper molds are for walnuts. Of course, if you don’t have all these shapes, just make do with what you have. If you don’t have any mold at  all—no problem. You can shape the ma’amoul in your hand with the tines of a fork.

For the nut fillings below, you can  use either granulated (caster) sugar or powdered sugar. The powdered sugar is less grainy. It’s all a matter of preference. The recipe below calls for rosewater, but orange blossom water can also be used. I suggest making both nut fillings, but you may have some nuts left over depending on the size of your pastries.

MA’AMOUL

Makes about 36 pastries (depending on the size of the mold)

Pastry Ingredients:

2½ c flour

½ lb. (two sticks or 200 g) unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon rosewater

4 Tablespoons milk

Sifted confectioner’s sugar for dusting the pastries

Pistachio Filling

1 cup chopped pistachio

½ cup sugar (granulated or powdered)

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Walnut Filling

1 cup chopped nuts

½ cup sugar (granulated or powdered)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Method

1. Make the two nut fillings. Chop the nuts and mix in the sugar. If you don’t like a grainy texture, you can use powdered sugar. The tablespoon of rosewater will make the nut mixture moist and easy to shape. Add cinnamon to the walnuts.

2. To prepare the dough, begin by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your hands or a pastry blender. Add rose water, followed by milk. Work the dough until it is soft and easy to shape.

3. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll each quarter into about nine balls to make approximately 36 balls of dough—depending on the size of your mold.

4. Fill the dough balls with a spoonful of nuts. First, flatten a ball of dough with your thumb and make a hollow. Place the nuts into the hollow. Be generous with the filling. Pinch the dough back over the nut filling, making a ball shape. Do this with all 36 balls. You will probably have some nut filling left over.

5. Next press the filled dough balls one by one into the ma’amoul mold.

To snap the dough out of the mold, tap the tip of the mold against the edge of the counter with a firm quick movement. With the other hand, catch the ma’amoul and place it on an un-greased cookie sheet. Dust some flour inside the mold if it’s sticking. Don’t worry about imperfections. They will be covered up by the confectioner’s sugar.

6. If you do not have a mold, flatten the balls slightly and decorate the sides and tops by using a fork.

7. Bake in a preheated slow oven (350°F, gas mark 3) for 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pastries will require less time.) Baking ma’amoul is a delicate operation and requires constant attention. The bottom-side of the ma’amoul will be slightly browned, but the tops should appear soft and uncooked. If the pastry tops become brown, they will become hard and their taste will be spoiled. Upon cooling, the pastries will become firm.

8. Cool ma’amoul on a cooling rack. When they are cold, dust confectioner’s sugar over them. They keep for at least a week in a tightly closed tin. 

On Eid morning in the Arab world, it’s the custom to go visiting family, neighbors and friends. The host typically offers coffee and pastry, served up with some witty conversation. Some people may visit a dozen homes on Eid, stuffing themselves with coffee, sweets and the latest gossip.

Question: Have you made ma’amoul with nuts? What do you serve on Eid?