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Ramadan Desserts: Irresistible Traditional and Modern Treats for the Holy Month

Ramadan is not just a month-long period of fasting and spiritual reflection; it is a time of celebration, gratitude, and togetherness for Muslims worldwide. During this month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and as the sun sets, they break their fast with a hearty meal known as Iftar. 

One of Ramadan’s most exciting aspects is the variety of delicious desserts served and shared between Iftar and Suhoor when families and friends come together to enjoy sweet treats, conversation, and laughter. Ramadan desserts are a celebration of culture, and they offer a sweet and satisfying end to a day of fasting.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the most popular Ramadan desserts from different parts of the world. From traditional treats like Kunafa and Qatayef to modern twists on classic recipes like Chocolate Baklava, you’ll find the dessert that satisfies your sweet tooth. So, get ready to indulge in the sweetest and most delicious aspect of this blessed month!

Traditional Ramadan Desserts

The array of traditional desserts like Kunafa, Qatayef, and Sheer Khurma is not only mouth-watering but also a reflection of the culinary and cultural diversity of the Muslim world. The aroma of freshly baked sweets and the sound of crispy pastry filling the air create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is truly exclusive to Ramadan.

Here are some of the most popular traditional Ramadan desserts:

Baklava

Ramadan Desserts

Baklava is a popular dessert in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, commonly served during Ramadan. It is a sweet pastry made of layers of thin phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and held together with a syrup made of honey or sugar. 

Here is a recipe for traditional baklava:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (such as pistachios, walnuts, and almonds)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Mix the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a bowl.
  2. Brush a baking dish with melted butter.
  3. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough in the baking dish, and brush it with melted butter. Repeat this process with 10 to 12 sheets of phyllo dough.
  4. Spread half of the nut mixture over the top of the phyllo dough.
  5. Layer 10 to 12 more sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each layer with melted butter.
  6. Spread the remaining nut mixture over the top of the phyllo dough.
  7. Layer the remaining phyllo dough sheets on top, brushing each layer with melted butter.
  8. Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into diamond-shaped pieces.
  9. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  10. Bake the baklava for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.
  11. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup by combining the water, honey, and lemon juice in a saucepan. 
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Pour the hot syrup over the hot baklava and make sure to cover each piece.
  14. Allow the baklava to cool to room temperature, then serve and enjoy!

Sheer Khurma

Ramadan Desserts

Sheer Khurma is a traditional dessert commonly associated with Ramadan, particularly in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries. 

Sheer Khurma is made by simmering vermicelli (thin noodles made of wheat flour) in milk, along with dates, sugar, and nuts. The dish is flavoured with cardamom, rose water, and saffron, which give it a rich and fragrant taste. The name “Sheer Khurma” means “milk with dates” in Persian, referring to the two key ingredients of the dish.

Here is a simple recipe for Sheer Khurma:

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of whole milk
  • 1 cup vermicelli
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts (such as almonds, pistachios, and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 1-2 tablespoons rose water
  • A pinch of saffron threads

Instructions:

  1. Heat the milk over medium heat in a large saucepan until it comes to a simmer. 
  2. Add the crushed cardamom pods and saffron threads to the milk and let them simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add the vermicelli to the milk and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally stirring until the noodles are cooked and the milk has thickened.
  4. Add the sugar to the milk and stir well until it completely dissolves.
  5. Add the chopped nuts and dates to the milk and stir well to combine.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the rose water to the milk and stir well.
  7. Let the Sheer Khurma cool down to room temperature before serving, and garnish with additional nuts and saffron threads, if desired.

Kunafah

Ramadan desserts - Kunafah

Kunafah is one of the most popular Middle Eastern desserts that are commonly associated with Ramadan. It is a sweet pastry made with shredded Kunafah dough, soaked in sweet syrup and layered with a creamy cheese filling.

Kunafah is commonly found in many Middle Eastern bakeries and restaurants, and there are variations of it in different countries such as Turkey, Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Here’s a recipe for a classic Kunafah:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg shredded Kunafah dough 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 kg unsalted mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pistachios or other nuts, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, separate the Kunafah dough with your fingers, and make sure there are no clumps.
  2. Pour the melted butter over the Kunafah dough and mix well until all the dough is coated in butter.
  3. Spread half of the Kunafah dough in a baking pan, pressing it down firmly to make an even layer.
  4. Spread the grated mozzarella cheese over the Kunafah dough in the baking pan.
  5. Cover the cheese with the remaining Kunafah dough, pressing it down firmly to make another even layer.
  6. Preheat your oven to 175°C.
  7. Bake the Kunafah for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  8. While the Kunafah is baking, prepare the sugar syrup by combining the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat.
  9. Cook the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes until it thickens and becomes syrupy.
  10. Once the Kunafah is done baking, remove it from the oven and pour the sugar syrup over the top, making sure to cover the entire surface.
  11. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios or other nuts over the top of the Kunafah, if desired.
  12. Let the Kunafah cool for a few minutes before serving. Cut it into squares and serve it warm or at room temperature.

Qatayef

Ramadan Desserts

Qatayef is a traditional Ramadan dessert, particularly in Middle Eastern and North African countries. It is a type of sweet stuffed pastry that is similar to pancakes, often filled with a mixture of nuts and sealed into a half-moon shape. After being stuffed and sealed, the Qatayef are often fried or baked and then soaked in sweet syrup.

Here’s a recipe for traditional Qatayef:

Ingredients: 

For the Qatayef:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the filling:

  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1/4 cup water

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rose water

Instructions:

  1. To make the Qatayef batter, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the warm water and vegetable oil to the flour mixture, and mix until a smooth batter forms. 
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  4. To make the filling, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, rose water, and water in a medium bowl until well combined.
  5. Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons of batter to the pan, spreading it into a small circle.
  7. Cook the Qatayef for 1 to 2 minutes until small bubbles appear on the surface of the batter and the edges start to curl.
  8. Remove the Qatayef from the pan and place it on a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have used all of it.
  9. Fill each Qatayef with 1 or 2 teaspoons of the nut filling, and seal the edges to form a half-moon shape.
  10. Preheat your oven to 175°C.
  11. Place the stuffed Qatayef on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  12. While baking, prepare the syrup by combining the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  13. Cook the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes until it thickens and becomes syrupy, then stir in the rose water.
  14. Remove the Qatayef from the oven when they are done baking and dip them in the syrup until fully coated.
  15. Garnish the Qatayef with chopped nuts or additional syrup, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Basbousa

Ramadan Desserts

Basbousa is a Middle Eastern cake and one of the most popular sweet treats in many countries. It is often served and shared during Ramadan and is perfect for satisfying sugar cravings after a long day of fasting.

It is made from a semolina-based batter that is sweetened with sugar, flavoured with coconut or almond, baked until golden brown, and finally soaked in sugar syrup. The result is a moist and fragrant cake that bursts with flavour and texture. 

Here’s a Basbousa recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups semolina
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sliced almonds for garnish

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Combine the semolina, flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is combined.
  3. Preheat your oven to 175°C and grease a baking pan.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan, spread it out evenly, and smooth the surface with a spatula.
  5. Use a knife to cut the batter into diamond shapes.
  6. Place a sliced almond on top of each diamond shape.
  7. Bake the Basbousa for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
  8. While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup by combining the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan. 
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  10. Once the Basbousa is done, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup over it while it is still hot. Make sure to cover every inch of the cake with the syrup.
  11. Let it cool completely before serving. Cut the pieces along the diamond shapes you created before baking.

Modern Twists on Traditional Ramadan Desserts

Traditional Ramadan desserts are staples of the month and a significant part of the cultural and culinary identity of many Muslim countries. But the celebration doesn’t stop there. 

In recent years, there has been a trend towards modernising Ramadan desserts. Many chefs and home cooks put their own twist on these classic recipes, taking them to new heights of flavour and creativity.

From the irresistible Nutella Kunafah to the delectable Chocolate Baklava, modern Ramadan desserts are revolutionising the dessert table and taking Ramadan celebrations to the next level.

Here are some examples of modern takes on traditional Ramadan desserts:

Nutella Kunafah

Nutella Kunafah is a modern twist on the classic Middle Eastern Kunafa. It has become a popular Ramadan dessert, and it’s easy to see why. The combination of the sweet and sticky pastry with the rich and creamy Nutella creates a flavour explosion in every bite. 

To make Nutella Kunafah, layer the shredded Kunafah dough with a generous amount of Nutella spread. It is recommended to substitute the cheese with ricotta or cream cheese to create a creamier texture that complements the Nutella. Finally, bake the Kunafah until golden and crispy, and pour the syrup over the top to create a sticky and sweet glaze.

Nutella Kunafah can be served warm or cold, and it’s usually topped with chopped nuts, like pistachios or almonds, for added crunch and flavour. Swapping the classic Kunafah out for a rich Nutella filling that oozes out with each bite is a great twist. It is a lovely Ramadan dessert that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Pistachio Qatayef

Ramadan Desserts

Pistachio Qatayef is a great modern twist to the traditional Qatayef often served during Ramadan. The addition of pistachios to the classic recipe adds a crunchy and nutty flavour to the sweet and creamy filling, making it a delectable treat for those who enjoy pistachios.

To make Pistachio Qatayef, cook the traditional batter of flour, yeast, sugar, and water. Then, fill the Qatayef with a mixture of ricotta cheese, sugar, and crushed pistachios. Fold the Qatayef after filling, seal it to create a half-moon shape, and then fry until golden brown. Finally, drizzle the Pistachio Qatayef with sweet syrup to add a sweet flavour and help keep it moist.

The half-moon-shaped pastry, complemented by the green pistachio filling, is simply stunning. One bite of this delectable dessert, and you’ll be hooked for life!

Cheesecake Basbousa

Cheesecake Basbousa elevates the traditional Basbousa to a whole new level with a creamy cheesecake layer on top. It is a great way to add a modern twist to your Ramadan dessert table and is sure to delight your taste buds.

To make Cheesecake Basbousa, prepare the base by making the traditional Basbousa recipe. While the Basbousa is baking, prepare the cheesecake layer by mixing together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs until smooth. Once the Basbousa is baked, pour the cheesecake mixture over the top and bake it again until the cheesecake layer is set. Finally, drizzle the top with sweet syrup and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

The result is a perfectly moist and soft texture with a slightly crunchy crust complemented by the smooth and silky cheesecake layer. It is a perfect dessert for those who want to add something new to their Ramadan table while still paying homage to the rich culinary history of the Middle East.

Chocolate Baklava

Chocolate Baklava - Ramadan Desserts

Chocolate Baklava is a modern take on the traditional Middle Eastern Baklava and is great for sharing during Ramadan. It is a rich and indulgent dessert that combines the flaky pastry layers of Baklava with a decadent chocolate filling, making it the perfect treat for chocolate lovers.

To make Chocolate Baklava, layer the phyllo dough with a mixture of melted chocolate, chopped nuts, and cinnamon. Then, roll the dough into a spiral shape, cut each into individual servings, and bake until crispy and golden brown. Once baked, drizzle the Chocolate Baklava with sweet syrup to add a sweet and sticky glaze.

The sweetness of the chocolate is perfectly balanced by the nutty and slightly salty flavour of the nuts. Thus, Chocolate Baklava is the perfect blend of sweet and savoury. 

Keep the Spirit of Ramadan Alive

Ramadan is a time to come together, reflect, and give thanks, and what better way to do that than with delicious food and sweet treats? Try making your own Ramadan dessert, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new flavours to add your own twist to the classic recipes.

Our website has a wealth of other related resources that you can explore. From how to stay hydrated during fasting to traditional Egyptian dishes enjoyed during Ramadan, we’ve got you covered. Ramadan Kareem!

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