Qatayef is definitely one of the loveliest desserts in the Middle East.
The recipe is a bit fiddly, but definitely worth making at home.
Nothing equals fresh qatayef.
It’s a moreish Middle Eastern dessert that is eaten traditionally around Ramadan, but can be enjoyed any time of year.
If you visit family or friends during Ramadan, it’s incredibly likely you’ll be served these morsels of goodness.
What is Qatayef?
Qatayef is simply an arabic stuffed pancake.
There are three common fillings:
- Sweet cheese
- Sweet mixed nuts
- Pastry cream
They are essentially pancakes that are only cooked on one side until done all the way through.
The filling is put in the center and then folded over to create a pancake package full of goodness which is deep fried, and then soaked in simple syrup.
How to Make Qatayef
There are three main steps to making qatayef: the simple syrup, the filling and the pancakes.
The Simple Syrup
The first step is to create sugar water to dip the pancakes into at the end.
In a small pot, heat warm water and sugar until boiling.
Add in lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove it from the heat, pour it into a bowl and leave to cool.
For this recipe, I’ve decided to make a sweet nut filling.
I’ve detailed below the different kinds of fillings you can try.
In a food processor, pulse a mixture of nuts until finely chopped.
In a small pot, melt some butter and add the nut mixture.
Cook until the nuts are toasted.
Remove this from the heat and set aside to cool.
Ideally, the pancakes should be small enough to be eaten in two to three bites.
This is important to keep in mind as you progress through this part.
Otherwise, the results are impractical large pancakes!
Create a well in the mixture, add in the water and mix until you have a pancake consistency.
In a frying pan, ladle a spoonful of pancake batter and cook over a medium heat.
The important note here is not to flip the pancake.
Cook on one side until you see bubbles forming and the pancake is golden brown on its bottom.
Make sure that it is cooked all the way through before removing it from the pan.
Bringing It All Together
Place your pancake, golden brown side down, and spoon some of the nut mixture onto one half.
Fold the pancake in half and pinch the edges until the pancake sticks together.
Carefully place the folded pancake into frying oil until golden brown on both sides.
Immerse the pancake into your simple syrup and well soak.
Making Different Qatayef Fillings
As I described above, there are three common choices for fillings.
There are cheese filled options using a popular white cheese found in the Middle East: akawi.
However, this can be difficult to source elsewhere so this can be substituted for mozzarella.
It can also be filled with cream.
The ideal kind would be pastry cream but whipped double cream would work as well.
Finally, my favorite is sweet nut filling.
Choose a mixture of your favorite nuts and roast them with butter.
Tips for Making Qatayef
- Be careful not to over cook the pancakes so they aren’t dry.
- Make sure they are sealed well, otherwise they will fall apart during the frying process.
- Be careful not to fry them for a long period.
- Put nuts and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Heat the butter in a pan until melted.
- Add nut mixture and cook until toasted.
- Cool and set aside.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the water.
- Once you have cooked all your batter, place a spoonful of filling in the middle of each pancake. Fold over and pinch the edges until pancakes stick together.
- Heat oil for shallow frying in a pot.
- Once golden brown dip into simple syrup and make sure to soak both sides.
- Serve immediately.