Ramadan is the most important month in the Islamic calendar, a time for fasting during the day and feasting after sunset and until sunrise. If you can’t ﬁnd date paste, use an equal amount of pitted dates and process with cinnamon and butter in a food processor until a smooth paste forms.
- 2 cups (350 g) semolina flour
- ¼ cup (50 g) baker’s sugar or superﬁne sugar
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. (50 g) all-purpose ﬂour, plus more for surface
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 Tbsp. orange blossom water
Date Filling and Assembly
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Mix semolina flour, sugar, yeast, and ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Add butter and work it in with your fingertips until fully incorporated. Add orange blossom and rose water. Knead dough in bowl until smooth and elastic. Roll dough into a ball and place seam side down on a lightly ﬂoured work surface. Cover with a very damp cloth and let rest in a cool place 1½ hours.
Date Filling and Assembly
Combine date paste and cinnamon in a small bowl. Gradually add butter, working it in by hand until a smooth, soft paste forms. Pinch off a small piece and shape into a disk 1½" (3.5 cm) in diameter and about ¼" (6 mm) thick. Transfer to a plate. Repeat process with remaining paste (you should have 40 disks). Cover with plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 400°. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll into a walnut-sized ball. Flatten on your palm to form a 3" (7.5 cm) disk about ¼" (6 mm) thick. Lay a date disk in center of dough. Fold edges of dough over date to cover. Pinch edges together—the date disk should be covered with an even layer of dough.
Lightly press into cookie mold. Turn mold over and tap top edge lightly against work surface while holding your other hand underneath to catch dough as it falls out of mold. Slide dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or silicone baking mat. Repeat with remaining dough and disks.
Bake cookies until lightly golden, 15–18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Do Ahead: Cookies can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Ramadan Treats: These Assorted Ma’amoul Shortbread Cookies Will Satisfy All Cravings
These cookies are traditionally created using three beautiful wooden moulds, each engraved to identify their fillings.
Ma&rsquoamoul Shortbread Cookies Makes 25-30 pieces roughly
Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus chilling and resting
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients for the dough
&bull 140g/5oz/scant 1 cup semolina, plus extra for dusting
&bull 35g/11&frasl4oz/1&frasl4 cup farina (potato starch)
&bull 2 tbsp caster sugar
&bull 1&frasl4 tsp ground mahlab or ground almonds
&bull 75g/21&frasl2oz butter, melted
&bull 1 tbsp orange blossom water icing sugar, to dust
&bull 35g/11&frasl4oz/1&frasl4 cup pistachios 1 tbsp caster sugar
&bull 1&frasl4 tsp orange blossom water
&bull 35g/11&frasl4oz/1&frasl3 cup walnut pieces
&bull 15g/1&frasl2oz caster sugar
&bull 1&frasl4 tsp orange blossom water
Date & Walnut Filling
&bull 40g/11&frasl2oz/1&frasl4 cup pitted dates
&bull 4&ndash5 walnuts a pinch of ground nutmeg 5g/1&frasl4oz butter, melted
1. Put the semolina, farina, sugar and mahlab in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter along with the orange blossom water and beat well. Knead the mixture for 3&ndash4 minutes, working it into a pliable dough. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for two hours.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings. For the pistachio filling, put the pistachios, sugar and orange blossom water in a small food processor or blender. Whizz for one minute to form a rough paste, then transfer to a bowl and wash the food processor.
3. For the walnut filling, put the walnuts, sugar and orange blossom water in the washed food processor or blender. Whizz for one minute to form a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl and wash the food processor.
4. For the date and walnut filling, put the dates, walnuts and nutmeg in the washed food processor or blender. Melt the butter and add to the mixture, then whizz for one minute to form a rough paste.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes before kneading it for two minutes.
6. Divide the dough into three even-sized amounts and roll out each piece into a long, thin, rod-like shape. Pinch off small lumps of the dough (about 2.5cm/1in pieces), and atten them with your palms, making sure it&rsquos quite thin but not so thin that it will tear.
7. Dust the ma&rsquoamoul mould cavities with semolina and then invert and tap gently to remove the excess. Gently flatten the dough into each mould cavity and add the relevant filling. Bring the edges together and seal well, then flatten the surface to create a level base for the cookie to sit on, pinching off any excess dough. Gently release by tapping the mould on the work surface. Repeat until you have about eight pistachio cookies, eight walnut cookies and ten date and walnut cookies (which are smaller). Each of your cookies should be clearly stamped with its design.
8. Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C/400 ̊F/Gas6. Dust a baking sheet with semolina and place the cookies on it. Bake for 10&ndash15 minutes for the larger cookies and about 8&ndash10 minutes for the smaller ones until the sides are slightly golden in colour. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.
Note: I like to add the filling using the mould because I find it yields more consistent results. Alternatively, flatten the dough in the palm of your hand while making a hole in it, then stuff it with the filling, seal the edges, roll it into a ball, then finally press it into a mould.
Bethany Kehdy is a celebrated Lebanese-American chef, award-winning cookbook author, culinary anthropologist, presenter, and former Miss Lebanon (2002). The entrepreneur has cooked and consulted for restaurants, gourmet events, and high-profile figures the world over to full restaurant consultancies from New York to Mykonos. Kehdy believes cooking and eating should have no bounds and follow no superficial rules. Pushing the boundaries and dreaming up trailblazing takes on classics, neglected cuts and forgotten ingredients excites her. &ldquoI believe that cuisine, especially Middle Eastern cuisine, should evolve as it always has,&rdquo she says. &ldquoI also think it&rsquos important that we become acquainted with the roots and history first in order to build on this knowledge and maintain the cuisine&rsquos soul essence.&rdquo
Flavoring Maamoul: Finding A Mahlab Substitute
Traditionally Maamoul contain a spice called mahlab.
Mahlab is a spice that is made from ground cherry pits. It smells like a combination of almonds and cherries, with a hind of anise.
If you live near a Middle Eastern grocer, you will probably be able to find mahlab there. You can also find it online.But most online vendors we found require you to buy quite a lot, which may not be practical if you just want to experiment with it a bit.
Insted of mahlab, we us a dash of almond extract and a little anise in our date filling. The flavor might not be spot on what it would be if you used mahlab, but it will be close and is very tasty!
Hssoua Belboua (Barley Soup With Milk)
Jacek Sopotnicki/Getty Images
This classic Moroccan recipe for Hssoua Belboula combines barley grits with milk to yield a rich, creamy soup that's both nutritious and satisfying. Serve it for iftar or suhoor (the meal before fasting).
Recipe: Ma’amoul Cookies for Ramadan
Ma’moul Cookies are served during celebrations in the Middle East. This recipe comes to us from Soha Yassine. Soha is the youth coordinator at the Islamic Center of Southern California. This Saturday on Good Food you can hear how Soha and other Muslims in the Los Angeles area are breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan.
Keep reading for a recipe for Ma’amoul Cookies…
2 sticks butter at room temperature
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp orange blossom water
Pre heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine flour, semolina and baking powder, mix well.
Next, add butter, milk, and orange blossom water to dry ingredients and combine until dough is formed. In a food processor, blend walnuts until fine and crumbly, pour walnuts into bowl and add sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom water. Next, put the dates into the food processor and blend until it is formed into a fine ball, remove and add orange blossom water, set aside. To form maamoul cookies, roll dough into balls, smaller than golf balls, poke an indent into the ball and place some of the filling inside, close the opening until all of the filling is concealed. Next, wipe down the maamoul mold with some vegetable oil so that the dough does not stick, press ball into the maamoul mold and then tap down the cookie by hitting the mold on the side. Place the cookies on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until bottom of the cookie is light brown. Remove cookies and let cool completely. Dust cookies completely with powdered sugar and store in an air-tight container for up to 2-weeks.
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What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a period of fasting and spiritual growth, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures and pray to become closer to God. It’s also a time when families gather and celebrate.
Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and fasting isn’t only abstaining from food and drink. It’s also abstaining from smoking, taking oral medications, and engaging in sexual activities, as well as gossip, fighting and lying.
Food is a major part of Ramadan, with traditional dishes highlighted, especially traditional desserts. Desserts are considered the most important part of the fast-breaking meal and include treats such as rice pudding, baklava and qatayef.
Sueda’s Japanese sweet tapioca with coffee jelly
My family and I came to Australia from Japan about two years ago due to my father’s job. My mother and father are both Turkish. My mother comes from Eskişehir, a city in the north-west which dates back to at least 1000 BC and is estimated to be even older. In Turkish, Eskişehir literally means “old city”. My father is from Burdur in south-west Turkey where Salda Lake is famous for being one of the cleanest lakes in the world.
Sueda Ugurlu with her cat and her tapioca pudding. Photograph: Recipes for Ramadan
My parents met in Japan where they both lived and worked for about 20 years. My mother taught Turkish at a Turkish Cultural Centre in Tokyo and my father worked at a software company. My brother and I were both born in Japan and only visited Turkey during the summer holidays, but I feel I have a strong connection to my family’s nationality. For my parents, the connection is of course stronger they were born and raised in Turkey so they always felt far from home.
Before we came to Australia, my parents and brother were looking forward to moving, but I was strongly against it. As time has passed, I’ve gotten used to living here but if you gave my mum a ticket to Japan now, she would take it. She feels a deep longing for Japan as the country which she considers home, because of the many years she spent there.
Having spent the first 14 years of my life in Tokyo, Japan feels like it will always have a special place in my heart too. I get nostalgic at times and miss it, and I hope to visit as soon as possible.
My brother and I attended an international school, with overseas and Japanese students. It was easy to make friends because it was such a friendly environment. I had some Japanese Muslim friends too – their mother was Japanese and their father Turkish. English became my second language and Japanese my third. I struggle not to forget Japanese now.
A question I get asked frequently is whether I prefer Japan or Australia. I do not have a definite answer for this, as both countries have their pros and cons. But thinking about my future, my preference is to live and work in Australia as it has a more easygoing lifestyle and a multicultural society. If or when I have my own children, I will tell them of my fond memories and I’d like to take them to visit to experience it for themselves.
Some of the unforgettable memories I cherish from Japan are the days of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a holy month each year when Muslims try to “elevate” spiritually, which means worshipping and becoming closer to God. My goals for this Ramadan are to finish reading the holy Quran and to worship God to the best I can to get closer to him. Living in a non-Muslim country like Japan made it hard to experience and feel Ramadan’s spiritual atmosphere and its social pleasures like fasting together, breaking fasts together, praying tarawih (the special kind of prayer said only during Ramadan) and thinking about being generous together. It was also hard to find halal food in a small Muslim and Turkish community but we went to the mosque sometimes, or to a friend’s house to break our fasts with others. I appreciated what we had and made the most of it.
I treasure memories of breaking the fast and inviting guests to iftar. In any culture, tables bring people together and Ramadan iftars don’t just mean having guests, but thinking consciously about the act of sharing your food with others.
Our iftars were even better because my mother put so much effort into filling the seats around the table with Muslim and non-Muslim friends. I would help her out as much as I could. Our house would be filled with the delicious fragrances every year. You could even smell the food outside before the guests arrived.
A very special dessert my mother would make during Ramadan that my brother and I could not resist eating was sweet tapioca with coffee jelly. It is a Japanese dessert that my mother came to know and love. She has made it ever since.
Tapioca are small pearls that create a nice texture in desserts, especially those that contain coconut milk or exotic fruits. It’s easy to make and refreshing to eat during hot summers. Whenever I have this dessert, I remember the good times in Japan. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
Sueda Ugurlu’s sweet tapioca with coffee jelly, a Japanese dessert that her Turkish mother makes every Ramadan. Photograph: Recipes for Ramadan
4 tbsp of instant coffee
2 sachets Kanten (Japanese veggie jelly powder)
200g small tapioca beads
400ml coconut milk
10 tbsp sugar
Because this dish is made of chilled components, it works best if you make everything ahead of time.
To make the coffee jelly cubes, boil one litre of water, then add the coffee and kanten and stir well until dissolved.
Pour it into a flat tray and leave to chill until the mixture becomes jelly-like and firm.
To make the pearls, boil the tapioca beads in water until they become transparent. Then strain and wash with cold water.
Pour the milk and coconut milk into a pot. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Then add the tapioca pearls into the milk while it is still hot so that they cook.
Chill the milk and pearls in the fridge, until cool.
The next day, when the coffee jelly is firm, cut it into small cubes and add them to the milky tapioca mixture.
Serve in small glasses with a spoon.
Sueda Ugurlu is a student at Amity College in Sydney. She was born in Japan to Turkish parents
Ramadan Cookies – Dates and Prayer Rugs
Last week my family and I (along with 1.6 billion Muslims around the world) began the festive month of Ramadan, and in celebration, I created some Ramadan cookies. To be exact, I made dried date and prayer rug decorated sugar cookies!
If you're not familiar with Ramadan, it's a month where Muslims don't eat or drink (not even water!) from sunrise to sunset. We wake up super early in the morning to eat a large meal. Then it's nothing. Not a single morsel of food or drop of liquid until the sun sets.
Since Ramadan is in July this year, we're talking about nearly fourteen hours without any food or drinks. Eeeks! Fourteen hours without eating or drinking probably doesn't sound like something to be excited about, but Ramadan is a special month where we focus on spirituality, gratitude, and patience. It's also a time to celebrate traditions.
And tradition is exactly why I decided to make sugar cookies decorated like dried dates and prayer rugs. Muslims around the world open their fasts with dried dates because it's an ancient tradition, and prayer rugs are a natural choice because, as Muslims, we pray five times a day.
Prayer rugs come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. My four-year-old daughter even has a mini one! Most of our prayer rugs happen to be maroon and gold. So my daughter insisted that the sugar cookie replicas look just like the ones we have at home.
The girls have been devouring these cookies all day long, and I've been eating them non-stop every night! What a sweet way to celebrate the beginning of such a special month for our family.
Ramadan Recipe: Forget the figs, try Date Newtons
The first time I tried a ma&rsquoamoul cookie, I fell immediately in love. (With the cookie, of course.)
There was something very familiar about the taste, something I remembered from childhood. Then it struck me. My favorite cookie growing up was a Fig Newton, which was a sugar cookie, wrapped around an inner layer of minced fig. The idea for a ma&rsquoamoul was the same, except the inside layer was minced dates.
Living in a land of dates, I decided to tweak a recipe I found online for homemade fig newtons, and here is what I came up with. Please note: a ma&rsquoamoul recipe is much more elaborate, with butter and rose water added to the dough, and generally shaped in beautiful molds. If that&rsquos the flavor and look you remember from childhood, feel free to tweak to your own tastes.
Ramadan Day 12 – Iftaar and Eid Recipes that Kids can Make
Every Ramadan, I set a theme in our house by which, my children can learn more about the Holy Month. In the past, we have done the A-Z of Akhlaaq series , the Prophets of Islam series and then last year, we did the Alhamdulillah for Series- Gratitude Journal together as a family. This year, I am paying extra emphasis to teaching children the different ways in which they can giving charity as well as show gratitude to what they already have.
I have a 10 year old son and two 3 and 5 year old daughters. Lucky for us, our summer break has just started and all of them are at home. I find it as a perfect opportunity to teach them more about our traditions and culture. We have a daily plan that involves a bit of learning -Quran, Dua and a book praying together, some fun craft or activity and then some chores to keep the boredom at bay. Alhamdulillah, that my little girls are a bit bigger now because in the past, juggling two toddlers and Ramadan was very busy.
Every day, through this month, I have been inviting my children into the kitchen. I’m sure you will relate that our best memories of Ramadan are definitely the sitting down together to eat at iftaar. The family life, the discussions, the connections… there is so much to learn and appreciate together.
I grew up in a family where my father put special emphasis that we all help our mother set the table so that she isn’t running about at iftaar exhausted and unable to utilize or enjoy the time for prayer. I feel, Alhamdulillah, blessed that my husband has the same belief. In the past years, even though we had little babies, he would place them in the high chairs and get the elder ones to help him with different activities like, peeling, plucking or arranging the fruits or just to run and fetch things. This year, we are taking it a step further because my 10 year old son loves to cook and my daughters enjoy helping him. We let them make a dish or two by themselves every day.
Ramadan is the perfect time to teach your children about your traditions and culture because seriously, they will not learn it by themselves. Cooking, our food, how we serve, our traditions, the way we treat others is something that needs to be taught. Cooking is a skill that your children will need to practice for the rest of their lives. While we were doing our A-Z of Akhlaaq series, we had numerous opportunities to talk about serving and feeding others as an act of charity. When we did the lesson about N for Neighbours, I let them make their own Iftar dish too. They felt pride in their dish and the fact that people had appreciated them and their efforts. This little confidence carried forward through the year.
Cooking or helping set the table, children learn about responsibility, charity, respect and of course to appreciate food. It is the best way to help picky eaters learn to try other foods too.
But… what can little children cook? I’m sharing some Iftar recipes below that even your littlest can make.
Please note that children should be supervised while in the kitchen. Make sure that you are using tools that are safe for their age. Make sure you are using ingredients that are safe for their allergies or any health conditions that they may have.
Ramadan Recipes that Even Kids can Make
- Juices and smoothies: This is the easiest and the most fun way for kids. My children love to press the ‘buzz’ button. I give them a bowl to put in all the fruits and other ingredients which I transfer to the mixie jug. I fix it up and make sure that it is locked in place and they only have to buzz it. My son is old enough now to carry it on by himself but I have to make sure the little girls aren’t around him. Here are a few types for you to try.
- Strawberry milk shake: Frozen strawberries+ milk+ sugar.
- Avocado shake: Very ripe avocado+ milk+ sugar
- Pinna Colada: Coconut+ Pineapple+ milk+ sugar
- Fresh Carrot and Orange juice
- Rooh Afza
- Rooh Afza Lassi – Butter milk +Rooh Afza
- Salads and no cook meals: Salads are another fun category for kids. Every since I taught my children to make salads, they love to experiment. Simple dips and sauces are another thing that your children can make independently. Try these below.
- Corn cucumber salad : diced Corn + diced Cucumber + a simple( olive oil + salt + lemon juice) dressing
- Classic Baleela or chickpea salad- We herein Saudi Arabia love our Baleela. It is the easiest chick pea salad ever! Previously pressure cooked Chickpeas or store bought boiled ones ( drained) + pickled cucumber or beets (diced very small)+ dressing ( hot chilli sauce + 1 tsp vinegar + salt).
- Arabian salad – diced cucumbers + spring greens+ diced capsicum + tomatoes + arabian dressing (olive oil + lemon juice+ coriander powder + salt)
- Guacamole and chips
- Humus and vegetables julienne
- Folding and wrapping: I will be honest: I hate folding and wrapping 20-30 samosa! But… kids love it!! So go ahead and teach them this (life skill?). Just give them the fillings that you have prepared.
- Spring rolls
- Puff pastries
- Cutting, peeling and plucking fruits. My kids love to do this. Their father started them on this. He would ask them to pluck the grapes off the stem or peel the bananas for the salad and now it is a competition. Ok, so they will eat some ( umm… most) of it but it is ok. The older ones usually listen and mind the younger ones.
- Fruit salad
- Fruit chat
- Dates : this is my son’s favourite recipe. He has like 20 versions of how dates should be served!
- Chocolate dipped dates: just melt chocolate, fill the dates with sum dry fruit paste and dip in the hot chocolate
- Dates and almonds: Blanche the almonds or boil to soften and remove skin. Cut the dates and insert the almond in place of the seed.
- Quick desserts: When I first started cooking with my kids, I started the Montessori way. At the age of 2.5 years, I taught them how to stir and pour. The best way to teach that was to let them make these quick desserts. I used store bought packets for these. If your children don’t have allergies then once in a while this is a good idea too.
- Jello – Prepare the hot water in advance and follow the instructions.
- Crème caramel- many brands have this quick instant version of crème caramel. You only have to add milk and stir.
- Muhallabia- if you live in the Middle East, I am sure you know about Muhallabia. It comes in an instant version. You just add milk, stir and then boil and pour. I let my kids do the mixing and stirring only.
- Bread pudding with crème caramel- this is the fun recipe where you just arrange the bread and add the crème caramel (mentioned above) till the slices are soaked. Place in the fridge till it sets and then decorate.
Aren’t these recipes above so much fun? These are just to give you an idea. I hope you will try them with your little ones. Do leave a comment below or hop on over to my Instagram or Facebook page to see what we are cooking in my kitchen. You can follow my blog JeddahMom and join our Kids in the Kitchen in Ramadan theme too.
Happy Ramadan! May the Almighty accept from you and me our prayers and our fasts!