Discover the Famous and Unique Desserts for Eid Al-Fitr
By: Joyce Behrens/Arab America Contributing Writer
As the month of Ramadan ends this weekend, it is a time of giving and appreciating to Allah. It is also a period to enjoy the company of family. During the holy month, daily fasting is necessary from dawn until dusk. Once the sun has set, it gives permission to break the fast. When it’s time to receive Eid al-Fitr, which is the final day of the holy month, desserts become a big part of the festivities. A common factor for most desserts is that they are mostly fried. Also, they include orange blossom and/or rosewater syrup as a sweetener. There are desserts in the Arab World that are here in America year-round; however, some are only made for the holy month and Eid Al-Fitr. Check out some delicious desserts and sweets to have during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr.
Chaaybiyet pastries originated in Lebanon. These are triangular shaped sweets made with phyllo dough. When fried, these have a crunchy texture as you bite into them. Inside, they are filled with ashta/cream. Ashta is a Lebanese style clotted cream. However, the consistency is thicker than standard cream fillings. As for flavorings, both orange blossom and rosewater complement the entire dessert. Before you dig into one, you add some delicious sugar syrup for more sweetness. For the finishing touches to the dessert, chopped pistachios, as well as candied orange blossoms, are added for additional texture.
These dessert shells are originally from Egypt. However, they are a popular treat all over the Arab world for Ramadan and the Eid. The way the qatayefs are shaped resemble a crescent moon. How they differ from most Ramadan pastries is the textures of the shells. The texture is similar to a pancake. They can be served as they are, or they can be fried as well. The fillings of the qatayefs range differently. Sometimes, the insides are filled with different varieties of nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or even hazelnuts. Another common filling is ashta/cream, almost acting like the ricotta inside a canoli, but with an Arab twist. Nothing is better than enjoying a delicious qatayef with loved ones after a day or a month of fasting.
These Lebanese pastries are made only for the holy month. Phyllo dough is rolled out into small squares. Ashat/cream is added onto the square dough, then sealed before frying. Once they come out of the fryer, you’ll let them dry from the oil. Usually, kellaj is delicious when there is either rosewater or orange blossom syrup drizzled over the pastry. Before you dig into one, chopped pistachios are garnished on top as a crunch component. However, kellajs are just as delicious without the syrup drizzle too. They are similar to the making of chaaybiyet. However, the main difference is its shape. Kellajs are rolled out in squares, while chaaybiyets are triangular.
Chebakias are traditional cookies from Morocco. The shape of these delicate cookies resembles a rose. These are time-consuming cookies. It takes about ninety minutes just to finish the preparations before they are fried. Once they are in the fryer, it takes an additional thirty minutes to have them at the right texture. When they’re done, you then coat the entire chebakias with honey. Lastly, sprinkle some sesame seeds to add nutty accents to the sweet cookie. Interesting fact, when made at home, female family members all gather in the kitchen to make a large amount of chebakia for the holy month and the Eid. The women would even invite their female friends to assist, in order to complete the preparations before frying the cookies.
Masfouf is unique North African dessert, found in Algeria and Tunisia. Typically, masfouf is a dessert bowl served after a day of fasting. Full of vitamins and nourishment. The idea of the dish somewhat reflects American style oatmeal. However, couscous is used instead of oats. It’s cooked couscous with dried or fresh fruits folded into the dish. Examples include grapes, raisins, golden raisins, pomegranate seeds, and dates. Chopped nuts are added for another element of texture. Specifically, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, and chest nuts are great components of flavor and crunch.
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