I must begin today’s post with some apologies to my blogosphere friends. I am woefully behind reading and commenting on your blogs. This Ramadan schedule of late nights, early mornings, midday naps interspersed with phone calls of holiday greetings, reflections and prayer and trying to update a blog so that others looking for Ramadan recipes are not left in the lurch, I am not able to keep up with reading all your wonderful entries. Please forgive me, I haven’t forgotten you, I just need some time.
Apart from the tiredness, the fasts are going well. They are very long, there is no denying that, and it is very hot here in Denver but I have been turning on the air conditioning and staying indoors. Come mid afternoon, I head to the coolest part of the house, which is the sunken family room, plop myself on the sofa and enjoy the cool air from the ac as it floats around me (our ac vents are in the floor). If I am lucky and get my mind to calm down from the million and one things I need to do, I can grab forty winks.
In most Islamic centres around the US and I know in the UK, we have dinners every night that are sponsored by the congregants. One family or maybe two families will split the cost of a dinner and feed the fasting folks. There is a great reward to feed a fasting person in Islam so the dinner roster gets signed up pretty fast.
The Islamic Center of Boulder, where my family and I go isn’t any different. Every night there is dinner sponsored by one of the families and since most of these people are my friends, it’s nice to go and share a meal with them.
My children love to go because its like eating out but for free! I don’t mind either way, but for the kids I make the effort to take them. It is important to me that they understand community and the lessons of sharing and helping.
If any of my readers are in the Denver area and would like to experience an Iftar dinner, please message me and I will provide you with more information. I would be more than happy to have you join us in our celebrations. I am hosting my dinner on July 22nd; menu hasn’t been set yet!
So, today’s recipe is one of my favourite Ramadan desserts. I don’t think many of my readers know that I was born in Saudi Arabia. My parents left India a few years after they married and moved to Saudi. I was born there and lived there for about seven years before moving to London.
The Middle East has been a big part of my family for years. There has always been somebody who has lived there or continues to live there now. My brother, uncle and cousin are living in Saudi now and I have aunts in Qatar and lots of extended family members dotted around the ME.
Middle Eastern food is much a part of me as Indian and British. I love almost all Middle Eastern food and cook it often at home too.
One of my favourite part of Middle Eastern food is the desserts. I don’t know why I find them so irresistible, because honestly, they are not fancy in any way, but they are so good. I guess that makes a case for simplicity is key.
These ataif or Arabic pancakes with walnut and coconut filling are just that, simple and delicious. My absolute favourite Ramadan dessert are the Ataif bil Ashta that are already on my blog, and these are pancakes filled with a clotted cream. Oh. My. Gosh. Check those out too and you will understand why I am crazy over them.
Since I had the cream filled ataif already up. I thought I would share my coconut and walnut filled ones. These are amazing too, toasted walnuts, sweet coconut with a hint of cinnamon sugar, all gently fried so they are nice, golden brown and crispy on the outside.
Serves: 24 pancakes
- 1½ cups/225g plain/all purpose flour
- ¼ cup/45g semolina
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 cups/472ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup/115g toasted walnut pieces, finely chopped
- ½ cup/50g unsweetened coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups/450 g caster or superfine organic sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- oil for shallow frying, about a ¼-1/2 cup
- Place the sugar, water, lemon juice in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.
- The syrup should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the orange blossom water and pull off the heat to cool. Put aside.
- Alternatively, you can very easily used warmed honey in place of the syrup.
- Put the chopped walnut, coconut, cinnamon and sugar and toss together.
- Using a mixer or a blender, mix together the flour, semolina, yeast and sugar.
- Add the warm water and mix or blend on high so everything gets incorporated.
- Add the baking powder and mix through.
- Put aside for a half hour or so, till the batter is bubbly.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan and brush with a bit of oil.
- Use a ¼ cup measure to drop 5″ pancakes onto the griddle.
- Cook the pancakes till the surface is covered in bubbles and is cooked.
- DO NOT flip. These pancakes are cooked only on one side.
- Place the cooked pancake on a plate to cool slightly.
- NOTE: The photo collage above is from the ataif bil ashta post, I was being lazy.
- Same procedure though.
- While still warm, take a pancake and place a teaspoon of the walnut and coconut filling in the middle and seal up the sides, by pinching, to form a crescent shaped filled pancake.
- Put aside and repeat with the rest of the pancakes.
- Do not overfill the pancake.
- You can judge by each pancake whether you need a teaspoon or less of filling.
- You may lose a couple of the first few pancakes but once you get the hang of folding and pinching, you should be fine.
- You may also thin out the batter with about ¼ to ½ cup water if the pancakes are too thick.
- The batter is thinner than pancake batter since these pancakes are a bit thin and lacy since they must be folded and sealed.
- Once you have the desired number of pancakes stuffed, heat some oil in a large fry pan.
- The oil doesn’t have to be too deep, just a half inch or so in the pan, enough to shallow fry the pancakes.
- Once the oil is hot, add the pancakes, as many as will fit in your pan and fry till golden brown.
- Flip to brown the other side and then drain on paper towels.
- To serve, drizzle with a bit of sugar syrup or place a little pitcher with the syrup on the side for guests to help themselves.
I hope you can get to try these wonderful Arabic delicacies. These are a favourite in the Middle East and especially around Ramadan time. Some Arabic bakeries in big cities carry these during Ramadan so you may get lucky if you have one such bakery near you (The Sweet Factory in Houston has them in Ramadan and I know Shatila in Dearborn, Michigan has them). However, they are easy to recreate so you can make these with no problem.
I am also guest posting over at Kitchen Flavours blog today with my recipe for the Ataif Bil Ashta. If y’all get a chance please go over and support me! Lubna is a great blogger from India who has some amazing recipes and photography on her site. She has been hosting a Ramadan event called Joy From Fasting to Feasting for a few years now and asked me to participate this year.
Hope y’all have a great weekend. I will try and catchup with everyone’s blogs this weekend!