Ramadan Mubarak to all my wonderful readers who observe Ramadan :)
Today is the second day of the month of Ramadan.I wrote a little about Ramadan last year and I am hoping to explain more this year through the upcoming series of posts. I will be sharing popular recipes made in the month of Ramadan, family favorites, associated with childhood memories.You can get a sneak peak of the recipes in this album on my facebook page. If you have any special requests, send me an email or leave me a comment and I will do my best to include them. I will also be taking you on a tour in the old city markets and we will go back to Jerash to finish our visit to the old Roman city. Stay tuned :)
What I love about Ramadan is that it is a chance to slow down, step back and review the past year. On a personal and a spiritual level. It is also the month to reconnect with family and friends. Gathering for Iftar after a long day, sharing the experience and the lessons somehow brings everyone closer together.
Fasting is a school of discipline present in most religions and cultures. In Islam fasting by definition means to abstain, abstain from food and drink but it doesn’t stop there. You have to abstain from everything that is bad. Abstain from lying, gossip and using profanity.One way to look at it is that in fasting what comes out of your mouth is just as important as what goes in. Keep in mind though, that your mouth is not the only part of you that is fasting, the whole of you is. Your hands are fasting, you can’t do harm, steal or hurt others. Your eyes are fasting, you are not allowed to watch anything inappropriate. If you think about it, fasting is meant to impact the way you behave , it aims to build and develop a better person.
If there is one recipe that says Ramadan in my house then it has to be atayef. As a kid mum only made atayef in Ramadan. It was a treat reserved for this month. I fondly remember going to buy atayef with dad, waiting in line chatting with other kids about fasting, watching the baker pour the atayef with great skill and speed and then going home to help mum stuff them, sneaking a few to eat uncooked at Iftar time.
Atayef (kataif or قطايف) are thin and lacy stuffed Arabic pancakes. What sets these pancakes apart is that they are cooked only on one side, the other side is velvety because it is covered with bubbles, this allows the flavors of the filling to permeate the atayef. There are two types of atayef, regular and mini atayef (also known as atayef asafiri). The regular ones are usually stuffed with a cheese or nut filling, then they are sealed and baked or fried. Regular atayef are then served drizzled with simple syrup. The mini atayef also known as are served without cooking. They are usually filled with cream then they are dipped in ground pistachios and served with a drizzle of syrup. You can still make the atayef without stuffing them. Serve them the way you would serve pancakes, with butter and your favorite syrup. Served that way they make for wonderful vegan pancakes that are quick and easy to prepare.
If you have never tried atayef, biting into one of the regular atayef , you first get the crisp and crunchy exterior, then comes the filling. With cheese, the melted cheesy center, sweetened by the syrup with hints of mastic is the perfect balance to the crunchy exterior. With nut filled atayef, it is a joy to experience how the different textures play off each other, the nutty toasted almonds or walnuts vs. the crisp exterior. Add cinnamon and cardamom and drizzle of rosewater syrup and you have a dessert that you won’t soon forget.
The atayef asafiri on the other hand are soft and velvety filled with a luscious cream. The cream is then topped with ground pistachios for a touch of color and nuttiness. A drizzle of syrup adds the sweetness and the signature rosewater hint of Arabic sweets
The recipe I am sharing with you today is the result of more than a dozen trials. I have tried so many recipes for the dough that were too thick, too yeasty, didn’t seal, did not cook properly, you name it!! None of them worked! but I learned something from each one and eventually found the perfect balance of ingredients. To get successful atayef ,however,you need more than a great recipe, the technique is just as important. I have highlighted these technical tips in the recipe and the notes. I hope this will help you get great atayef the first time and every time.
Atayef dough/batter recipe
Makes 30 medium sized atayef. You can half the recipe
You use the same dough to make regular atayef and atayef asafiri
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)
3 cups of warm water (you may need 1/4 to 1/2 cup more- see notes)
You can prepare the atayef mixture by placing all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisking them to insure that they are properly mixed.
Add the water and orange blossom water and whisk thoroughly until you get a thin homogeneous mix. You can also place the wet and dry ingredients in the blender and blend until you get a thin mix.
Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes
Heat a non-stick pan
For small sized atayef, atayef asaferi, pour 1 tablespoon or 2 teaspoons of the batter. For medium sized atayef pour 2 tablespoons and for large atayef pour 1/4 cup of the batter.
The atayef should start to bubble around the edges.
The bubbles should then spread to cover the entire surface.If your atayef are not covered with bubbles then this means your batter is too thick and you need to add more water. Do so in 1/4 cup additions, whisk and try again
This is what the atayef would look like if the mixture is too thick
On the other hand this is what the atayef should look like if you have the right consistency
Wait until the atayef are done, you know this by watching for the surface to stop being shiny. The time depends on the size of the atayef, the small ones take about a minute, the big ones 2-3 minutes
Take the atayed off the heat, place them on a clean kitchen towel and fold the towel over them to cover them. This step is very important as it will soften the atayef making them easier to stuff and seal. It will also prevent them from drying. If your atayef become dry you will not be able to stuff them because they will not seal.
Continue pouring the atayef until you finish the entire amount.
When your atayef cool you can either stuff them immediately or you can store them in a plastic bag that is well sealed or closed for a couple of hours and stuff them later. I would advice that you don’t keep them un-stuffed for more than a couple of hours because if you do they will dry out and sealing them will become problematic.
To store them in a plastic bag arrange them so that the top bubbly surface touches that of another atayef and then layer them in the bag.
Atayef filling suggestions
For the regular atayef
2 cups nabulsi cheese
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
Cut the cheese into cubes and soak it in water the night before, this will soften it and reduce the salt content. You can use ricotta as a replacement
2 cups toasted almonds, chopped or crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
To toast the almonds spread them on a baking sheet and place them in a preheated oven (200 C) for 5-7 minutes.
Turn off the heat and leave the almonds in the oven to cool
Place the almonds in a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin or any other heavy object. This way the almonds will retain texture and won’t be ground too finely
Add the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and mix to combine
None traditional but still yummy suggestions
Sauteed apples with sugar and cinnamon
Nutella with bananas and hazelnuts
Atayef asaferi stuffing
Top the cream with one of the following
Ground pistachios or your choice of ground nuts
A sprinkle of cinnamon or cardamom
Candied orange peel or your choice of candied fruit
How to stuff atayef
The large atayef (regular atayef)
To stuff the atayef place 1-2 teaspoons of your desired filling and fold the atayef so that it forms a half moon and start sealing the edges by pressing them between your thumb and index. Make sure you do not over stuff them because that may cause them to open or burst during freezing or cooking.
Arrange your atayef on a flat plate or baking sheet and freeze them. Once frozen place them in a bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Fold the atayef into a half circle and seal it only half way as you can see in the picture
With a small spoon, fill the opening with clotted cream
Dip it in ground pistachios or your choice of nuts.
Arrange the atayef in a serving plate with some rosewater syrup, strawberry syrup or cherry syrup. Atayef asafiri are not baked or fried and they can not be frozen. You can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rose water or orange blossom water (optional)
Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot,bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes
Turn off the heat and add the rosewater if using.
You can use other flavoring agents to replace the rosewater like cinnamon, cardamom or orange peel
Cooking the large stuffed atayef
You can either fry the large atayef or bake them
To fry them: place 1 cm of oil in a pan and heat it
Place the atayef in the pan and fry until the edges are golden brown and crisp
Flip the atayef over and cook until the opposite side is golden brown
Take the atayef out of the oil and dunk them in the simple syrup and then take them out and arrange them on serving plate. (Do not dunk them for more than a few seconds or else they will become soft and soggy)
To bake the atayef
Brush the atayef with melted butter or vegetable oil
Arrange them on a baking sheet
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C until golden and crisp
Drizzle them with sugar syrup
المقادير المطلوبة لعمل 30 حبه قطايف حجم وسط
نصف كوب سميد ناعم
اثنين كوب طحين
اثنين ملعقه كبيره زيت نباتي
اثنين ملعقه كبيره سكر
اثنين ملعقه كبيره ماء زهر
نصف ملعقه صغيره خميرة
ملعقه صغيره بيكنغ باودر
ثلاث اكواب ماء دافئ و ممكن تحتاجي اكتر حسب نوعية الطحين
تخلط المواد الجافة مع بعضها
نخلط الماء مع الماء زهر و تضاف للمواد الجافه و تحرك باستخدام مضرب سلك او على الخلاط
العجينة يجب ان تكون رخوة القوام اي صبها سهل
اتركي العجين ترتاح مده 10 دقائق
سخني مقلاه تيفال و بعد ذلك خففي النار بين العالي و الوسط
لعمل العصافيري صبي مقدار ملعقه كبيره
و اذا كانت للحشي و القلي فاستخدمي 1/4 كوب من العجين لكل حبه قطايف (انا استخدم الاكواب المعياريه)
بعد ان تضعيها في المقلاه ستظهر الفقاقيع على الوجه , ستبدأ الفقاقيع من الاطراف ثم ستغطي كل الوجه
لو لاحظتي ان الفقاقيع قليله عددا او كبيره جدا فهذا يعني ان خليطك ثقيل القوام. اضيفي ربع كوب ماء و اخفقي و كرري المحاوله
عندما تلاحظين ان الوجه بدا ينشف (لم يعد لامعا و ابيض فاتح )و من الاسفل اصبح اللون ذهبي ارفعي القطايف و ضعيها على فوطه نظيفه و غطيها و هذه الخطوه مهمه جدا كي لا تجف القطايف, كما ان تغطيتها تجعلها اطرى و اسهل للحشي
بامكانك حشي القطايف فورا او وضعهها بكيس بلاستيكي و احكام اغلاقه و حشيها بعد ساعه او ساعتين و ان كنت افضل حشيها فورا
بعد حشي القطايف بامكانك قليها او شويها
الكميه المتبقيه دون قلي او شوي رتبيها على صحن و غلفيها بالنايلون و ضعيها في الفريزر
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