We have a small group of enthusiastic bloggers called the Muslim Food Bloggers. Last month, we decided that we would go ahead and do a challenge every month. We will be doing various challenges over the month to avoid the monotony. I am really excited to be starting this event and hosting the event. Sincerely hoping that we will be able to make the event a regular and long running event, InShaAllah… 🙂 We will be working on a theme every month, that will be posted on the 10th of every month and will be linked in for everybody to see all the participating posts. This is just a humble beginning. May Allah bless us in this little activity and strengthen our bonding, Aameen… 🙂
To start with, the first challenge is to try a recipe from the blog of a very famous blogger, who is so well known for her vast variety of Middle Eastern delights. A doctor by profession, hers is like an encyclopedia of Levantine cuisine with details of every recipe. Hers is one of the earliest blogs I started following when the cooking bug had bit me and I have always been a regular, waiting for her to come up with a post so that I could go ahead and read them, gawk at the pictures and go through the recipe. Her blog is a window into her life, her thoughts about her hometown and many many more. She is also one of the founders of an upcoming online food magazine called Darna. She is none other that Sawsan of “Chef in Disguise”. I am really excited to have her blog to start of this challenge, and InShaAllah, it is a good beginning… 🙂
It has been my wish to make Ma’amoul for quite some time. Ma’amouls are basically Levantine melt in the mouth cookies stuffed mainly with dates, and maybe with nuts as well. My sister loves Ma’amoul and always gets boxes from the store when she comes. I normally don’t like them much since I find them a little too sweet to my liking, but I was sure that if home made it wouldn’t be that much. When I opened her blog for selecting my recipe for this challenge, I directly went to her post without much thought. Recently she had done a post that literally hit a lot of chords in my heart. Even I belong to a generation who does not belong to the country I stay in nor to the country of my passport. It is a strange feeling indeed… 🙂 OK, let’s leave that aside, and come back to the Ma’amoul. she already has three different recipes on her blog. But the last one, she mentions, is the way her mother makes during Eid and her favorite version. So I went ahead and made one-third of the recipe. I had bought a mould last year expecting myself to make some Ma’amouls soon, and what better chance to put it to use than now! Alhamdulillah, it’s time came faster than many other stuff I have in my kitchen! 😉
If you ask me from where I got this mould, it was from a store in Ajman, which sells all sorts of stuff, what we call as 1 to 20 shops here. 😀 I am sure if you score through the aisles, you will easily find this. Sawsan’s recipe has flour and semolina, and the dough is made in a mixture of ghee, butter and olive oil. I didn’t have to add any water, so you can imagine how crumbly my dough was. The whole point is to read the recipe well and stick to it as much as you can without much amends. If I ask me if there is anything I would love to change, then it’s the amount of sugar in the dough. The only amount I added was what was in her recipe, one tbsp and it was hardly anything, and on top of it, the date paste I used as filling was not sweet, so it tasted more like a diabetic cookie. 😀 Not that I am complaining, I should have been more careful. The kids and HD loved it though they thought it could have been done with a little bit more sugar. 🙂
I have tried to take a step by step just to show how it is shaped, though this one didn’t give imprints on the cookies as much as I expected them to. Since it is a fibre mould, I lightly greased while using so I didn’t have much of problem tapping down the cookie from it. Basically you take the dough double the size of the date paste to be put in, cover it up, press it into the mould and flatten it, and then tap it onto your sheet. I used an ungreased silicon mat over my oven tray, since this needed to be baked in the lower part of the oven. While you go through the process of making the cookies, the best process you will enjoy is the tapping, I tell you. 😀 I kept tapping and tapping and making a lot of noise from the kitchen till the cookie would fall off. Hehe…
Overall, I loved the recipe and the taste, The Ma’amoul was delicious, definitely much better than the store bought ones. Serve this up with some sulaimani and you are good to go for a light tea snack. The mixture of three oils in the dough makes it so crumbly and actually does not allow the flavors to overpower each other. You can neither feel the ghee, butter nor the olive oil, but the outer is just melt in the mouth! As these baked, the kitchen filled with the aroma of the flavored waters used in the cookies. Aah, it was amazing! I have heard that Ma’amouls are a very famous sweet eaten during Ramadan after Iftar, since it has dates in it and is very light with the sugar, and I can understand why. The start of making this cookie has been good and would love to try her semolina ma’amoul sometime later with a nutty filling, InShaAllah. 🙂 Oh, by the way, if you don’t have the mould, no problem! You can definitely make them free form as per a design you like too. 🙂
So there goes our first post for this new challenge… I am sincerely hoping that it will continue with a lot of enthusiasm for a long time to come, InShaAllah… Off to the recipe…
Ma'amoul ~ Middle Eastern Date Filled Cookies
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup semolina
- 1/3 cup ghee warm
- 1/3 cup melted butter warm
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup milk powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 tbsp instant yeast
- 1 1/2 tbsp rosewater
- 1 1/2 tbsp orange blossom water
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- FOR DATE FILLING:
- 160 gm date paste
- 1/3 tbsp melted ghee
- 1/3 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- In a bowl, mix the flour and semolina well.
- Add in the ghee, butter and oil into the flour mixture and mix with your fingers to coat the flour well. DO NOT KNEAD. We just need the mixture moist.
- Set aside for a couple of hours, for the semolina to soak up the oils.
- Now add the remaining ingredients over the flour mixture and just bring the dough well together. In case required, use a couple of tablespoons of water (I didn't use). You just a well mixed dough bought together.
- Mix the ingredients under "for the date filling" well in another bowl and set aside.
- Keep a parchment or silicon sheet on an oven tray and set aside.
- Pinch dough into equal balls (I got 17) and pinch the date filling into half the size balls.
- Spread out the dough in your palm. Keep the date in the centre and wrap it. Press into a Mamoul mould to shape. Gently tap onto the sheet so that the cookie falls from the mould. Keep on the sheet. Repeat till all the dough is done. (check out the picture at the top)
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes or till the bottom is cooked.
- Switch on the grill and cook for another two minutes.
- Take out the tray and leave undisturbed for the cookies to set and cool completely, since it will be very crumbly at this stage.
- Store in air tight containers and use within two weeks.
You can use other fillings than dates, you can fill with crushed pistachios or walnuts as well.
You can use a cup of only olive oil, ghee or butter rather than a mixture, however, Sawsan mentions that the use of all three gives a better texture and flavor and I have to agree to it.
The amount of sugar mentioned is almost to nil. Increase the sugar in the dough or alternatively serve the cookies sprinkled with icing sugar.
Meanwhile, have a look at what my other fellow bloggers have tried as a part of this first MFBC challenge!