Three Easy, Delicious Desserts that are Popular in JordanDesserts
By: Holly Johnson/Arab America Contributing Writer
As we enter what feels like day 672 of quarantine, if you’re anything like me, you’re desperate for new recipes to try. While I’d be the first to admit that my pre-COVID life didn’t leave much time to stop and smell the proverbial roses, I enjoyed the occasional evening spent hovering over my stove watching the unfortunate cake I chose to murder bubble over the pan. However, since social distancing has become the new norm, I have been baking up a storm and following every recipe I can get my hands on. What started as simple apple pies quickly turned into elaborate bread puddings, but it wasn’t until I tried an Arab staple from Jordan, Luqaimat, that I truly fell in love with a dessert.
Known traditionally as a sweet treat that is made in the month of Ramadan and consumed after iftar to break the fast, these deep-fried balls of deliciousness are dipped in syrup or honey and can be covered with seeds as a finishing touch. Popular in Jordan, it is referred to as Luqalmat al Kadhi and can be served as a treat on special occasions.
Having found Luqaimat so delicious, I set out to find other recipes from Jordan and found two that are perfect for the palate, yet easy on the wallet. Whether you are perched atop an oversized chair gazing out over Mount Nebo or watching the endless turn of wheels on taxi cabs from your New York City flat, these desserts will sweep you off your feet while keeping you connected to Arab culture.
Basbousa (also known as Hareesh)Semolina Cake
Originating from Egypt, but popular in Jordan, Basbousa is a traditional sweet cake made from semolina butter and sweetened with rose water, lemon extract, or a teaspoon of simple syrup (your choice).
For the Cake:
2 cups fine semolina
2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Sugar Syrup:
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1¼ cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Finely chopped pistachios
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine all of the cake ingredients into a thick batter and press into either a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a 10-inch springform pan that’s been greased and lined with parchment.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the center is set. Turn the oven to broil for 3 to 4 minutes to brown the top of the cake. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over high heat; boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and allow the syrup to cool slightly before slowly pouring the syrup over the cake until it’s completely absorbed.
- To serve, cut into pieces and garnish each with the chopped pistachios and more coconut.
Popular in Jordan, but served in various Arab communities during Ramadan, Qatayef is essentially a pancake, stuffed with sweetened cheese and ground pistachios. Paired with a bowl of fresh melon and drizzled lightly with honey, this dessert will have you going back for seconds, and thirds. (We recommend wearing comfortable pants when indulging – we won’t tell).
- 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (16.5oz, 469g)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (7.5oz, 213g)
- ½ cup fine semolina (3.5oz, 100g)
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar. Stir. Let set on the counter for a few minutes until it becomes foamy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Cover with plastic and let rest on counter until bubbly. This can take 1-2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- After the batter is bubbly, heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet to medium.
- Pour batter by ¼ cupfuls into neat 4-inch circles onto the griddle. Use your ladle or bottom of measuring cup to lightly make a swirling motion to help spread the batter to 4 inches. You don’t want the pancake to be too thick or it will be difficult to fill.
- The pancakes will begin to form tiny bubbles. When the surface is covered with bubbles and no longer shiny and the bottoms are a pale golden, remove the pancake from the griddle and place on a plate. Do not flip them over. You will not be cooking the other side of the pancake.
- Keep the pancakes covered with a kitchen towel while you finish cooking the rest. Stack the pancakes on the plate with a sheet of waxed paper between them.
- When you have finished and they have cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. If they dry out they will not close.
Luqaimat (also known as Luqmat al Kadhi)Ramadan Dessert by Muna/Munaty Cooking
As cliché as this sounds, this dish changed it all for me! After years of eating greasy cinnamon rolls, these deep-fried, bite-sized balls dipped in a sugary honey glaze introduced me to a new way of eating desserts. As mentioned above, it is traditionally consumed during Ramadan, however, Luqaimat has become the focal point of special occasions in Jordan and is regularly consumed in other Arab communities worldwide.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- oil for frying
For sugar syrup
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp rose water
- Mix flour, sugar, and corn starch with warm water and add yeast.
- Cover the bowl with the loose soft dough and let it rest in a warm place for about one hour.
- Mix the dough again to get rid of trapped air bubbles.
- Take small portions with a teaspoon and, using another teaspoon, slide the dough to drop in hot frying oil forming small rounded shapes. (To know if the temperature of the oil is correct, add a teaspoon of the batter and carefully drop it in the oil. If it floats quickly, it means that the oil is too hot).
- Let the Awameh balls fry until they’re golden in color and float to the surface.
- Strain in a colander then drops in cold sugar syrup for a few minutes to allow it to get absorbed.
- Remove from syrup and serve.
Whether you try your hand at deep-fried balls or pancakes stuffed with cheese, send us a photo of your creations, and most importantly … enjoy!
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