Savoir Flair’s Contributing Food Editor, Leen Al Zaben of Culeenary.com fame, tackles traditional Arabic dishes and updates them for the modern day.
Every year, we look forward to the spiritual, cultural, and culinary traditions of Ramadan. These include suhoors with friends, nights spent playing cards, and a dessert that quintessentially defines the sweet side of the month: atayef. There are so many different versions of the dish, whether it’s made with walnuts, pistachios, coconut filling, or fresh cream garnishes, but when it comes to recipes I always prefer the classics, so I chose to make my family’s traditional recipe for cheese-filled atayef. Our (not-so-secret) ingredient is mastic, which perfumes the cheese ever so slightly. We also bake – rather than fry – our atayef for a healthier, crispier alternative.
Click through the gallery below to discover the full recipe, and click here for how to make the perfect Ramadan Turkish coffee tiramisu.
Ingredients for atayef and filling
- 1kg store-bought atayef
- 1 cup sweet white cheese, grated or crushed into small pieces
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- ¼ tsp mastic, crushed into a fine powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- ¼ cup canola or cooking oil
Ingredients for syrup (makes 3 cups)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup orange blossom water
- 1 lemon, squeezed
Heat oven to 180°C.
To make the filling, place the cheese, sugar, orange blossom water, mastic, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix to combine, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the stuffing, place 1 tsp of cheese in the center of each atayef.
Fold each atayef in half and seal it along the edge, forming a semicircle.
Once all the atayef have been filled and sealed, place them on a deep baking sheet.
Add the oil and bake in the oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure you flip the atayef over halfway through cooking so that they are evenly browned.
Option: You can always fry the atayef by placing them in a deep sauté pan and frying them in hot oil.
Once cooked, drizzle some syrup on each atayef and serve while still hot.
To make the syrup, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until all sugar has dissolved.
Once the mixture boils, simmer for ten minutes.
Add the orange blossom water and the lemon juice and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until completely cool.