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Suvir Saran

Middle Eastern Desserts/Sweets

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*sigh*

i miss middle eastern sweet platters.

I second that!

My favorite baklava to date is from a place in the old city in Jerusalem right across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There is a line of these baklava shops—probably three or four—where the big round trays of all different varieties of baklava are laid out. You point to what you want, either for take out or, my preference, to eat on the spot at one of the little sticky tables in the shop. It is the very wet sort of baklava—dripping with honey—which is my favorite.

There are those in the dry baklava camp and my friend who lives in and is from Nazareth has taken me to what she and her family consider to be the best baklava bakery. It is indeed very good baklava, but too dry to rank as my favorite (not, mind you, that I would ever say no to this baklava) because if the baklava on the tray is not sitting in a pool of honey (with rose water), for me it’s too dry.

When I'm craving baklava, I go to Titan Foods (a Greek grocery in Queens) and get a pound or so. It's the very wet sort so a pound gets me only about 8 very small squares--and I might even share it. :wink:

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lucky you, Ellen - at least you have Queens.

I'm not sure where I can get truly good baklava here in Atlanta, or any other sweet, really. I'll have to do soem research.

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*sigh*

i miss middle eastern sweet platters.

I second that!

My favorite baklava to date is from a place in the old city in Jerusalem right across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There is a line of these baklava shops—probably three or four—where the big round trays of all different varieties of baklava are laid out. You point to what you want, either for take out or, my preference, to eat on the spot at one of the little sticky tables in the shop. It is the very wet sort of baklava—dripping with honey—which is my favorite.

There are those in the dry baklava camp and my friend who lives in and is from Nazareth has taken me to what she and her family consider to be the best baklava bakery. It is indeed very good baklava, but too dry to rank as my favorite (not, mind you, that I would ever say no to this baklava) because if the baklava on the tray is not sitting in a pool of honey (with rose water), for me it’s too dry.

When I'm craving baklava, I go to Titan Foods (a Greek grocery in Queens) and get a pound or so. It's the very wet sort so a pound gets me only about 8 very small squares--and I might even share it. :wink:

I sure wish you had a picture of those Jerusalem Baklava shops.

Are you sure it is honey that they use, not syrup flavored with rosewater? Unlike the Greek Baklava, in Lebanon honey is never used to drizzle over baklava. Personally I much prefer the rosewater syrup, since I think honey can be overpowering.

Elie

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I came across an amazing baklava from Syria. A friend who came back from Lebanon brought me a box back. Mrs zeitoun and I ate the whole box in 3 days.

Fortunately, they have a website:

http://www.alfaisalsweets.com/

Even more fortunate, they ship abroad!!!

They specialize in all sorts of Middle eastern pastries, not just baklava. Is anyone familiar with them?

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I sure wish you had a picture of those Jerusalem Baklava shops.

Are you sure it is honey that they use, not syrup flavored with rosewater? Unlike the Greek Baklava, in Lebanon honey is never used to drizzle over baklava. Personally I much prefer the rosewater syrup, since I think honey can be overpowering.

Elie

You're absolutely correct. It is rosewater syrup, at least at the places that I love in Jerusalem. I forget sometimes that with this crowd, I have to be precise.

Interestingly, even though Titan Foods is a Greek market, I think they use the rosewater syrup in their baklava. But for the sake of all of you, I am willing to make the sacrifice and get out to Queens so that I can make the most informed assessment possible. I know, I know, it will be difficult, but for egullet and the sake of research, how could I not?

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we sure appreciate all your sacrifices Ellen.

Another and IMO the best middle eastern pastry shop that sells it's stuff online is Abdul Rahman Hallab. I took a tour of their kitchens this past May in Tripoli, Lebanon. Pretty cool stuff.

Elie

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gallery_11814_353_1102191977.jpg

Yep, fatayr bi-sbanigh. It is just a normal dough, no puff pastry, nothing fancy, really easy to make. The baked ones are healthier but the deep-fried version are my personal downfall. My mom makes both whenever I come to visit. I daintily eat a couple of the baked ones, and then secretly scarf down a couple dozen of the fried ones when no one is looking :wink:

This is the middle eastern pastry shop I grew up with: Rafaat Hallab & Sons

They are (or at least were) considered the best in Lebanon. Bummer, they only ship the boring stuff. I want the cream-filled goods, dammit!

Hunger....

edit: Oh, they ship the "kashta" (cream) stuff inside lebanon. Look under products->other->kashta to see what I'm talking about. Sigh.

edit2: Goodness, it looks like Marian Burros wrote something nice about them in the NYTimes (See Newsletter.) So hip, my hometown.


Edited by Behemoth (log)

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Behemoth-

I love Rafaat Hallab & Sons as well, it is almost identical to Abdul Rahman Hallab. However, my family always went to the latter when passing through Tripoli, so I am partial to it :smile:.

The reason they do not ship the cream filled ones is because they are HIGHLY perishable and cannot stand the 48 hour trip to the states. I got that answer when I asked the person giving us the tour who I think was one of the managers. They really care about their product and would not even fill cream filled items (Atayif, Halawit EL Jibin,...) if you are taking it "to-go". they always pack the filling seperatly so you can do it yourself when ready to eat.

Elie

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Behemoth-

I love Rafaat Hallab & Sons as well, it is almost identical to Abdul Rahman Hallab.

Looking at the names: Are Rafaat and Abdul Rahman brothers?

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Pan I think there is a lot of history to your question, and I am afraid I might not get it all right. but here it goes:

1- the word Al Hallab is sort of like the word carpenter, or locksmith. It describes the profession that they are in not their actual name. the word comes from the Arabic word "Halib" meaning milk. SO I believe it refers to the fact that Dairy and cream play a huge role in their business.

2- Originally Abdul Rahman's full store name was "Abdul Rahman Rafaat El Hallab"!! confused yet? This means that Abdul Rahman is actually Rafaat's son. So you are correct, they are related as a father and son. Basically the son went off on his own and opened this shop back in circa 1888 (yes in the 19th century) or so. the name was recently changed (about 2-4 years ago) to Abdul Rahman with no Rafaat in it and they also dubb themselves "The Sweet Palace". The reason for this , the rumor goes, is due to conflicts between some of the brothers who are now running the business. Hope this clarifies it :smile:.

Regardless, both places offer what is believed to be the best Middle Eastern pastry money can buy.

Elie

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Yes, you clarified it. :biggrin:

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The reason they do not ship the cream filled ones is because they are HIGHLY perishable and cannot stand the 48 hour trip to the states. I got that answer when I asked the person giving us the tour who I think was one of the managers. They really care about their product and would not even fill cream filled items (Atayif, Halawit EL Jibin,...) if you are taking it "to-go". they always pack the filling seperatly so you can do it yourself when ready to eat.

That's fairly obvious, I just like to complain about it :smile:

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By the way, now I am not clear whether it was the first or second Hallab my dad bought sweets from. He always went to the "older" place, whichever that was. I'm thinking it might have been Abdul Rahman. I can barely remember where it is now, sad. A new Hallab shop (definitely Rifaat) opened a fancy shop right down the block from our house a few years before we moved. I would buy from them occasionally but it always felt unseemly to go in for less than a kilo, so it was never like, a casual snack. The french pastry-type places did a better business with teenagers for that reason, though most of us probably prefered the arabic stuff. (Though personally, I was always more of a cheese ka'k fan, despite my grandmother's dire warnings about cleanliness...)

But this is material for a Lebanese street food thread. Do ka'k vendors even exist anymore?

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I second that!

My favorite baklava to date is from a place in the old city in Jerusalem right across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There is a line of these baklava shops—probably three or four—where the big round trays of all different varieties of baklava are laid out. You point to what you want, either for take out or, my preference, to eat on the spot at one of the little sticky tables in the shop. It is the very wet sort of baklava—dripping with honey—which is my favorite.

There are those in the dry baklava camp and my friend who lives in and is from Nazareth has taken me to what she and her family consider to be the best baklava bakery. It is indeed very good baklava, but too dry to rank as my favorite (not, mind you, that I would ever say no to this baklava) because if the baklava on the tray is not sitting in a pool of honey (with rose water), for me it’s too dry.

The baklava that Ellen is referring to is made with sugar syrup; they just use a lot of it.

I prefer the baklawa in Nazereth. That bakery is reputed to be the best in Israel and I would have to agree. They make with loving care.

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I came across an amazing baklava from Syria. A friend who came back from Lebanon brought me a box back.  Mrs zeitoun and I ate the whole box in 3 days.

Fortunately, they have a website:

http://www.alfaisalsweets.com/

Even more fortunate, they ship abroad!!!

They specialize in all sorts of Middle eastern pastries, not just baklava.  Is anyone familiar with them?

Wow! Those look amazing, especially the keshta sweets. You think they would ship here? :wink:

Someday, I hope I can go there and try them myself.

Are the Ghoraiba similiar to Mamoul, but filled with cream instead of dates or walnut filling?

Does anyone have a recipe for the fatayr bi-sbanigh. How do you make the pastry?

I would weigh 200kg if I lived in Tripoli. Both pastry shops look fabulous.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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Does anyone have a recipe for the fatayr bi-sbanigh. How do you make the pastry?

The pastry is just your basic pita bread dough/pizza dough, rolled out to about 1/8 inch thickness after first rising. Cut into circles, stuff and fold into the triangle shape. Bake as you would pizza, at very high heat (about 425 or so) or fry in time-honored middle eastern granny tradition. Now that I think of it, I wonder if the Peter Reinhardt formula for slow-rising pizza dough would be an improvement. Hmm, worth trying.

Maybe someone has a more precise recipe for the filling, but I usually improvise. It is basically chopped spinach or chard, chopped green onions, mint and parsley, zaatar, lebanese spice mixture, raisins or toasted pine nuts, a little lemon juice or pomegranate molasses, salt & olive oil. Dry enough to not leak, wet enough to steam the spinach.

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Interestingly, even though Titan Foods is a Greek market, I think they use the rosewater syrup in their baklava. But for the sake of all of you, I am willing to make the sacrifice and get out to Queens so that I can make the most informed assessment possible. I know, I know, it will be difficult, but for egullet and the sake of research, how could I not?

Hmmmm, I'm gonna be in that area tomorrow morning/afternoon - I'm checking out a bakery and some of the Egyptian joints on Steinway St., but I have time to do some baklava research as well... :biggrin:

Amy

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Hey did anyone notice the Hallab site has a recipe for Kashta?

Recipe (Click on the photo to see the recipe.) The english is a little weird, some translation might be needed. Presumably the "toast bread" is just half a slice of white bread with crust cut off. Do you think the corn flour is really supposed to be fine corn meal? Or corn starch? (I vote for the latter, but what do I know.)

Anyway, here is an old Kashta recipe give to me by a family member, it seems more "echt" to me somehow:

1 litre whole milk

0.25 litres cream

Mix milk and cream in a broad shallow pan on a stove. Bring slowly to a boil, then turn the heat as low as possible and allow the mixture to stand over it for half an hour.

Turn off the heat, cover and leave the mixture to stand for 8 (8!!) hours before refrigerating. Place in the refrigerator for another 8 hours.

With a knife, detach the thick layer of cream lift it off the top of the milk. Divvy up as needed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I've been warned that you have to throw out the leftover milk for some reason I can't comprehend, apart from the fact that it has sat out for 8 whole hours. I've never made this because I never think of it 16 hours in advance and I am a big baby about waiting.

My guess is for znoud el-sit, you seal filo dough around the cream, bake it at some absurdly high temperature and then soak it in attar while it's still hot. Any idea what baking temp would work? Filo usually needs about 40 minutes at 400 degrees, think the cream survive that long? (though basically it should have the consistency of fairly dry goat cheese.) Or maybe start it low then crank it up??


Edited by Behemoth (log)

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I came across an amazing baklava from Syria. A friend who came back from Lebanon brought me a box back.  Mrs zeitoun and I ate the whole box in 3 days.

Fortunately, they have a website:

http://www.alfaisalsweets.com/

Even more fortunate, they ship abroad!!!

They specialize in all sorts of Middle eastern pastries, not just baklava.  Is anyone familiar with them?

Wow! Those look amazing, especially the keshta sweets. You think they would ship here? :wink:

Someday, I hope I can go there and try them myself.

Are the Ghoraiba similiar to Mamoul, but filled with cream instead of dates or walnut filling?

Does anyone have a recipe for the fatayr bi-sbanigh. How do you make the pastry?

I would weigh 200kg if I lived in Tripoli. Both pastry shops look fabulous.

The Ghoraiba is a cookie that is not stuffed, it usually is very buttery and crumbly, kind of like short bread.

For the fatayr bi-sbanigh, Behemoth pretty much summed it up. You can use any bread dough for the pastry (The pita bread dough in my eGCI class will work fine). For the filling, I would add the stop of salting and draining the spinach. My mom does that and it leaches some water out of the spinach and removes some of the astringency that could in the leaves. Just chop, salt, let drain for about an hour then wash and squeeze dry. As falvoring I am very partial to pomegranate molasses and chopped walnuts for the filling.

But this is material for a Lebanese street food thread. Do ka'k vendors even exist anymore?

Thankfully, they still do. :smile:

Behemoth, znood el sit are usually fried not baked and then soaked in syrup.

Elie

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Behemoth, znood el sit are usually fried not baked and then soaked in syrup.

God, that is diabolical. No wonder they are so freakin' good.

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Oh my. I have neglected this thread, and maybe that's a good thing because you all are making me drool. Hooray for spinach fatayer as well. I have to confess a weakness for the pine nut finger baklava but I am not too fond of the cream filled stuff. Living by Taj al-Malouk in Beirut was dangerous.

Did anyone notice the diet stuff on Abdul Rahman Hallab? They even have diet syrup-yikes!

I have only ever made ghourabiya and nammoura at home.

Maybe I should forgo the usual holiday goodies and bake some of those, or just make a trip out to Atlantic Ave.

However, I haven't had middle eastern pastries in the U.S. that add up to those in the ME (I've tried a couple local places and Shatila). Do you all (in the U.S.) order from abroad or locally?

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You know you have to recommend your favorite places on Atlantic Av. now, right? [sly grin]

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Thanks, M.

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