Ma’amoul – Dates and Semolina Cookies

Ramadan is around the corner, families in Dubai are getting ready for Ramadan. There are lots of special foods and ingredients coming to stores soon. I love Ramadan, its quiet and peaceful time, chance to spend time with friends and family. During the Ramadan fasting between sun rise and sun set, from not only eating and drinking, but also from all sorts of pleasures of this life, is mandatory for all Muslims.

On Ramadan Dubai kind of wakes up after seven o’clock at evening when sun disappears to horizon. Restaurants open their doors and spread their Breakfast, Iftar buffet’s, for all folks to enjoy. Shops are open later than normally, until 1 AM and last meal before sunrise, called Sohour is available at homes and restaurants around 1 to 3 AM.

I want to share Ma’amoul (عمول‎) recipe with you. This shortbread pastry cookie is one of my favorite. It’s easy to make, tasty and crisp. Normally these cookies are filled with dates or nuts. It can be filled with a variety of nuts, but is best made with walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. We love date filled Ma’amoul. I clipped this Syrian recipe from newspaper four years ago.

In Dubai there is date cookies available from supermarkets all year along; during Ramadan it’s so nice to enjoy homemade cookies. Here we go, why don’t you give it a try, any time of year, when you need tasty cookie with your glass of milk.

Ma’amoul Recipe

1 cup (185g) semolina (see note)
1 cup (150g) all purpose flour
2 tbs caster sugar
(2 tbs milk powder, optional)
1/4 tsp baking powder
125g butter
1 cup (160g) pitted dates, chopped
2 tbs water
2 tbs butter
Icing sugar to dust

1. Combine semolina, flour, sugar, (milk powder) and baking powder in a bowl and mix with 125g of soft butter to make smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to rest.

2. Combine dates, water and 2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until dates soften. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spoon 1 1/2-tbs of dough into moulds (see note). Use your fingers to press pastry firmly around bases and sides of moulds, leaving a small hollow in the centers. Spoon date mixture into it, seal well with dough.

4. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Semolina is durum wheat flour that is more coarsely ground than regular flour.

Special Ma’amoul cookie moulds can be substitute with baking trays for mini-muffin; those are available from kitchenware shops. Or you could just form balls or any shapes from dough and press hollow with your thumb, fill with date mixture and bring edges together to seal well.

Ramadan Karim!