If you grew up in Amman or in one of the Palestinian refugee camps in the 1980s and 1990s in the Levant you will probably be smiling now at this picture.
Memories of rushing out of school after a long day to be met by a smiling old man pushing a cart calling out for warm sweet dahdah that you could not wait to buy might be crossing your mind at the moment.
Dahdah (if you have never had it before) is a dessert that is made up of layers of semolina ,coconut , cinnamon and nuts alternating in a beautiful pattern and heavenly combination of flavor.
It is sort of mamoul meets harissa/basbousa meets knafeh and oh my if there was one dessert that is the best of those three worlds it would be dahdah!
As dahdah moved from Palestine to the diaspora the recipe changed a bit,(something that I found both interesting and somewhat agonizing) the central layer or filling if you will, used to feature nuts along with the semolina , coconut and cinnamon but through the hardships people faced in refugee camps, nuts disappeared. The filling there was only composed of a combination of semolina and coconut and in some instances when they had nothing but semolina , they had to make due with it without coconut or nuts and the filling was semolina mixed with cinnamon.
So if you research the recipe nowadays, you will find all three variants. The one I am sharing today, ones with nuts being replaced equal amounts of semolina or semolina and coconut. It seems that when people go through hard times, it is reflected in every aspect of their human experience: their stories, songs, clothes and even recipes.
The reason why I mentioned this is two fold:
1. I thought you guys would be interested in the story behind the different variables of the recipe if you ever come across the other options
2. Since I usually receive questions regarding substitutions when I post a recipe featuring nuts due to allergies, I thought this tidbit might be helpful. You can replace the nuts with equal amounts of semolina, or a combination of semolina and coconut.
2 cups fine semolina
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup warm melted ghee
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
0.5 to 1 cup warm water
For the filling
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup semolina
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup (check notes for simple syrup recipe)
2 tablespoons rosewater
3 tablespoons cinnamon
- spread 1 tablespoon of tahini into a 20 cm deep round baking dish
- To prepare the base and topping: Mix the dry ingredients till homogenous, then add in the ghee and rub it into the dry mix with your finger tips
I personally do this step the night before to allow the semolina to soak up the ghee and that gives the dahdah a better taste and texture but you can go on with the recipe without waiting if you are in a hurry
- Add the water slowly, the amount of water that you will need depends on the brand of flour, humidity among other factors so add the water slowly till you get a smooth dough
- Divide the dough in half and spread one half of the dough into your prepared baking dish (Wetting your hand will help you in smoothing the dough)
- Prepare the filling by mixing all of the filling ingredients till homogenous
- Spread the filling over the base
- press it well with the palms of your hands or with a measuring cup. This step is important to make sure that the final dahdah holds its shape and does not fall apart when you cut it
- For the top, take small pieces of the dough and press them gently between the palms of your hands to flatten them then arrange them on top of the filling then smooth them with a wet hand
- Using Maamoul clips or a fork, draw any pattern that you like on the top
- Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes
- Bake in 180c oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges are golden brown then turn on the broiler for a few minutes till the top is golden brown (it only takes a few minutes so keep an eye on it)
- If you like desserts soft and fudgy, serve dahdah warm, do keep in mind that it may not hold its shape perfectly while warm but it will taste heavenly. If on the other hand, you are after the dahdah we buy in downtown Amman, and you would like it to hold its own well enough to cut into pretty squares, allow it to cool completely before serving
- DO NOT add simple syrup to the baked dahdah. It is already sweet enough and the addition of the syrup will make it overly sweet
Simple syrup recipe:
you need a 2:1 sugar to water ratio
2 cups of sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix them all in a pot and bring them to a boil over gentle heat
يالله على الدحدح 😊
مين بيتذكر عرباية الدحدح على باب المدرسة؟
الدحدح هو من الحلويات التراثيه و هو عبارة عن مزيج من المعمول و الهريسه و الكنافه من حيث الطعم. طبق من الحلوى المصنوعة من السميد و المحشية بالجوز و جوز الهند و القرفة في مزيج لذيذ من الذكريات و النكهات
وصفة الدحدح موجوده بالتفصيل باللغه العربيه في الهايلايتس على بروفايلي على انستاجرام