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Laymoun o na’na, Sambousa, and Atayef

3 quick recipes for your Iftar tonight!

We’ve been observing Ramadan in the summer for the past few years and if there is anything I’ve learned from fasting in the heat, it’s that we need to stay hydrated. My goal with this Ramadan’s videos is to provide recipes that are hydrating, light and quick to make.

Laymoun o na’na

Lemon and mint are known to be best buddies and they complement each other perfectly, which is why this drink is always a winner and is made in most Middle Eastern countries. It is refreshing and delicious and doesn’t require many ingredients or planning, so it is great for last minute preparation.

If you want to make this very Middle Eastern, add a splash of orange blossom water and you’ll feel like you are lounging somewhere in the Middle East!

Sambousa

Sambousa is a staple in every household during Ramadan and I can understand why. I mean, who doesn’t like fried crispy dough? The best part of sambousa is that you can literally fill it with anything, there are really no limits to how creative you can get or the shapes you can make!

 

Atayef

You know it is Ramadan in the Middle East when random shops start setting up tables outside and make these pancake-like desserts. They are usually sold empty for people to fill and make at home.

Living in the West, I’ve had to learn to make the batter myself and to be honest, it is a lot easier than people may think. It is as easy as mixing a few pantry staples together and letting the dough rise!

I’ve made the two versions of atayef, the large ones that are stuffed with cheese or walnuts and are then baked or fried, and the mini ones, called asafeer, meaning birds, which are stuffed with ishta, thick cream, and eaten straightaway, without further cooking. Asafeer probably got their name because of the way they look, and they can be stuffed with unconventional fillings like Nutella, mascarpone and honey, or fruit and cream. Originals are always the best, but it never hurts to experiment!

 

Laymoun o na’na

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • Ice
  • 500-600 ml water
  • A handful of mint leaves (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 4-5 tbsp. sugar (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together, adjust to taste, and serve. A nice addition would be orange blossom water.

 

Sambousa

Ingredients

Cheese filling

  • 200 g feta cheese
  • 2 tsp. dried mint (to taste)

Meat filling

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 500 g minced beef or lamb
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ tbsp. mixed spice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp. chopped parsley

Chicken and mozzarella

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 250 g shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. mixed dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. [Meat Filling] Pour half of the olive oil in a pan and heat. Add the meat and brown. Drain any excess liquid, add the rest of the olive oil and add the onions. Add the spices, salt, and pepper and mix until cooked. Add the dill and parsley and let cool.
  2. [Chicken & Mozzarella Filling] Boil the chicken breasts with the cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns. Shred and let cool. Once cooled, toss with the mozzarella, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. Make a paste with some flour and water. Put some filling on the spring roll sheet and roll, making sure to close both ends. Do not over fill them, as they will burst while frying.
  4. Fry what you need and freeze the rest. You can stuff it with any filling you like.

 

Atayef

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup fine semolina
  • 7 g yeast
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 ½-3 cups warm water

Cheese filling

  • 400 g Akkawi cheese (Basel, please add the ration of Arab and Czech cheese)
  • 3 tbsp. ishta
  • Ground mastic (optional, to taste)

Walnut filling

  • 250 g walnuts (ground)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar (to taste)
  • Ishta filling
  • 200 g fresh ishta
  • Pistachios (coarsely chopped)

Instructions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together, and then add the water gradually. The mixture should be a little runny. Put aside for 30 minutes to rise.
  2. Heat a large non-stick pan.  To make medium sized atayef, fill about half of the ladle and pour, and for smaller ones, fill about ¼ of the ladle. Keep in the mind that the batter will expand. It may take a few tries to get the desired size.
  3. When you pour the batter, little bubbles should form all across the surface of the batter. This is how you know it is the correct consistency. If the batter is too thick, you will see big bubbles far apart. To fix this, just add a little bit of water and try again. There is no need to leave the batter to rise again.
  4. Once all the bubbles have popped, place on a large plate and cover with a kitchen towel. This step is important, as the trapped steam will make your atayef pliable and stop them from cracking.
  5. When stacking the atayef, make sure you put the “bubbly” sides on each other. Leave the atayef to cool and make the fillings.
  6. To fill the larger atayef, fold the dough in half and pinch the sides halfway, firmly, so they stick together.
  7. Fill the dough with either the walnut or cheese filling, making sure they are not too full, as they will burst while baking. Pinch the sides very well, brush with butter on both sides and bake at 200 C (180 C fan) for 15 minutes, flipping halfway. Drizzle with syrup and enjoy.
  8. They are more traditionally fried and then immediately dipped in syrup while they are still hot, but I prefer baking them.

There you have it! Laymoun o na’na, sambousa, and atayef. Enjoy, and Ramadan Kareem!

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