Ask the vast majority of people what their favourite part of a meal is and most will inevitably say the dessert! Everyone always saves just a little space in anticipation of the sweet course. This Eid make sure you try as many of these Middle Eastern confectioneries as possible…your waist line may not be happy but your taste buds will be delighted!
With such a variety out there, here are our 6 favourite dessert options:
Ma’amoul is a short bread biscuit made with either flour or semolina with plenty of butter, and flavoured with rose water, giving a sweet taste and melt in your mouth texture. The best thing about these treats are the fillings – try the caramalised pistachio nuts or walnuts if you after something a little more savoury. If you possess more of a sweet tooth, then sticky date filled Ma’amoul is the way to go. What can we say? These little biscuits are an absolute delight, usually decorated with beautiful Arabic designs, and are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.
If you are new to the world of Arabic food, then kanafeh does sound a little unusual. This dessert has a crispy and buttery dough made from shredded filo pastry, butter and orange blossom syrup. Giving it an aromatic and perfumed taste. Sandwiched between the dough is a layer of sweet cheese, usually mozzarella or akkawi. Once this dish has been baked to a golden-colour, honeyed and cheesy, it is then soaked in orange blossom and rosewater syrup. Kanafeh is perfect for an end-of-Eid buffet. Incredibly flavoursome, however, surprisingly not too sweet.
From India and Pakistan comes sheer khurma, which is very popular during Eid celebrations. A rich and creamy dessert, made with vermicelli noodles, milk and dried fruits. In fact, sheer means milk and khurma means dates. Sheer khurma is made slowly, soaking the vermicelli and fruit in the spiced milk, to make sure all the flavours are absorbed. Sprinkled with cashews and pistachios with a rose-water scent we recommend everyone try this beautifully subtle dish.
If you are a fan of Turkish delight but maybe want to try something a little different, this is the treat for you. Also known as halwa showaiter this jelly delicacy from Zanzibar (yup surprisingly not Bahrain). Made from cornstarch and sugar, for that thick gooey consistency, and flavoured with nutmeg, saffron and cardamom with a sprinkling of crunchy pistachio nuts. Most enjoyable with a cup of strong Arabic coffee. This is something on the lighter side if you not after something too rich.
Hailing from Egypt, umm ali is popular all over the Arabic world. This sweet and filling dish is made from puff pastry soaked in milk, flavoured with rosewater, dates and dried fruit. Sprinkled with coconut flakes and nuts, then baked to a warm, gooey, syrupy and crunchy-topped finish. Although this may be perfect for our “cool” Dubai winter evenings, it is a delicious Eid dessert. The ultimate comfort food!
Of course no blog on Middle Eastern desserts would be complete without mentioning the famous baklava. Buttery, crispy and sweet, everyone should try it at least once in their lives. Filled with spiced nuts, dates and fruits, these light filo pastry parcels are held together with honey, rosewater or orange syrups. There is not much more to say, other than go to a traditional patisserie and sample them as soon as you can.
With such a plethora of little treats out there waiting to be discovered, how could you ever get bored!