Atayef a Middle Eastern favourite
Although I have never really consciously noticed that Ramadan ripples through Sydney at this time of year, this year it seems to have come to me. Over the years I have had small brushes with it through kitchen hands, that normally devour several meals during a double shift, and suddenly shyly refuse food and arrive at work with dark circles. Many Muslims fast during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. It is common to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before sunrise and an evening meal (iftar) after sunset.
Last week I was in my local ( Rockdale) Lebanese pastry shop, Ibrahim Pastry buying baklava’s for a friend, and that’s when Ramadan found me. While there I also picked up a couple of other favourite things. The first a pack of dried apricot sheets, I love these, they’re made from apricot, glucose and olive oil. I haven’t bought them for years but these too, are a popular ingredient at Ramadan. I will make a beautiful dessert out of this next month.
The other item, are these soft pancakes that I sometimes buy for Skater who likes to eat them with nutella or honey. When I showed them to a friend of mine that grew up in Egypt she clapped her hands with excitement and asked if I was going to make proper Atayef. She recalls eating Atayef during Ramadan. In many Islamic communities, these pancakes are very important during this time. Atayef are also known as Qatayef -are little pancakes that are stuffed with sweet nutty or cheese filling then deep fried to crispy goodness and served with syrup or honey. That was it for me. I went straight home to make my own.
I made my Atayef, stuffing them with ricotta, dark chocolate and orange zest then served them with toasted pistachios and an orange syrup. I shallow fried them to crispy and I can tell you they are bloody amazing. This is what the pancakes look like before they are turned into this dessert. They are made in two sizes, the tiny picklet size and the larger saucer size both are $5.50.
I’ve also been buying lots of dates because they are cheap at the moment. I had no idea that the cheapness of dates seemed to coincide with the Ramadan festival till it was pointed out to me. Apparently they are a traditional fruit that is used to break the fast. This is often the first thing that is eaten after a full day of fasting. Dates are both nutritious and filling and in a hot country, a very welcome snack to get you going. I’ve bought kilos of them this month and made lots of recipes with dates that I hope you are going to love.
I bought my pancakes but if you want to make them there is a link here
- 6 pancakes
- 200 gm ricotta
- 25 gm roughly chopped dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon castor sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ cup of heavy or thickened cream
- 2 cups vegetable or plain oil for frying
- ½ cup (100 ml) fresh squeezed orange juice
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ¼ cup pistachios chopped
- Put the orange juice and the sugar into a small pot and simmer for several minutes till the sugar is melted and the syrup has reduced by a third.
- Heat the fry pan and add the pistachios and toss for 2 minutes until the nuts are toasted and lightly coloured. Cool
- Put the zest, ricotta, sugar and cream into a food processor and mix till combined. Put into a bowl and mix in the chopped chocolate.
- Put a heaped spoon of ricotta into each pancake and seal by pressing the edges together well. Heat the oil in a frypan . ( this can be as shallow as you like). Fry on each side till crispy. Drain on paper.
- Serve with the orange syrup and orange segments