Made from semolina flour, Maamoul is very popular especially around the time of Ramadan, as well as both Muslim and Christian religious holidays.
It is a tradition to serve your guests sweets when they visit, and Arab culture is still very much a social visiting culture.
People meet up regularly, especially over the holidays, when there is lots of visiting and well wishing going on.
As kids we were more focused on the money we would get at the feast, and the sweets were secondary.
It is a custom in Muslim countries that you visit your relatives, and they in turn dole out small amounts of cash for the kids on the feasts.
Charity is a big part of Islam like all other religions, and giving to others less fortunate than you is seen as the best thing you can do.
As I write this Ramadan is coming up in about a week.
It is customary for Muslims to fast during this holy month that comes around once a year.
People fast during daylight hours, choosing not to eat, drink, or smoke from sunrise to sunset.
This is seen as a way to foster discipline in your life and to empathise with with the less fortunate who go without enough food on a regular basis.
This recipe is for date maamoul which is my favorite, but there are other types of fillings as well.
Walnut or pistachios, are among the other most popular types along with date.
Each has its own distinctive shape thanks to the molds that correspond to the fillings for easy differentiation.
The molds are are made from wood and carved with a different design depending on the type of maamoul it is.
This is my personal favorite mold: https://amzn.to/2XQCqYI.
It can be fun making these sweets.
You make the semolina mixture into a ball shape, and fill with your preferred filling and press it into the corresponding mold.
Once pressed in, you bang the mold on the table and out pops the shaped maamoul ready for baking.
Of course if you don’t have a mold on hand, the sweets will be just as tasty shaped by hand.
Maamoul has a very distinctive flavor and texture, all part of what makes it a great dessert.
Semolina gives it a crumbly texture, and the mix of rose water, orange blossom water, and mastic give it a sweet, complex and pleasing flavor.
Mastic is a pine flavored resin from the lentisk tree.
Collected from trees that are at least five years old.
It’s done by cutting the trunk of the tree where the resin spills out, washed and then dried in the sun.
Sold either whole or in powder form, this spice can be found most places.
It’s also known as Gum Arabic.
The majority of mastic comes from the fifth largest Greek island of Chios where the lentisk trees can produce for over fifty years.
Like most great recipes everyone makes maamoul slightly differently.
Which in my view is a wonderful thing.
It gives you the opportunity to keep trying different maamoul recipes until you find your favorite.
I always tell people to experiment and be creative with their cooking.
Maamoul is no different, try new things, see what works and what doesn’t, and above all have fun!
- In a small bowl mix the yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and ¼ cup water. Set aside.
- In a bowl mix the semolina, ghee, butter, and vegetable oil. Let sit for ten minutes.
- Mix the flour, powdered milk, mastic, ginger, and baking powder into the semolina mixture.
- Add the yeast mixture, the ½ cup sugar, orange blossom water, and rosewater.
- Knead until a dough forms.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for 50 minutes.
- Mix the date paste with the cinnamon and cardamom. Add a little hot water if necessary to make the date mixture more pliable.
- Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
Making the Maamoul
- Make roughly 40 balls out of the dough, and 40 smaller balls of the date mixture.
- Press the date mixture into the dough and cover the bottom so the date does not show.
- Press dough and date filling into a maamoul mold.(If you do not have one, flatten the dough and filling until it resembles a filled cookie.) Place on a baking sheet.
- Bake Maamoul until edges are browned, five to ten minutes.
- Remove from oven when done and cool on the tray before moving the Maamoul to a cooling tray.
Nutrition Per Serving