Qatayef is a Middle Eastern dessert served during the month of Ramadan. It's made of pancakes stuffed with nuts or cream, fried and then soaked in syrup.
Middle Eastern desserts just hit differently for me. Whether it's the classic baklava, luqaimat or revani cake, the flavors are always top notch and the texture is sublime. These Middle Eastern treats called qatayef are another favorite that are so unique and delicious. The recipe comes in different varieties and today I'm sharing a classic version.
Table Of Contents:
What Is Qatayef?
A classic Middle Eastern dessert, qatayef is a sweet pancake filled with a variety of fillings from nuts and sweet cheese to ashta (Middle Eastern cream). Also pronounced and spelled as Atayef or Katayef, these Middle Eastern stuffed pancakes are made with a batter that consists of yeast and is cooked only on one side then stuffed with fillings and either fried (traditional method), baked or served as is. These pancakes are always topped or soaked in simple syrup before serving.
Qatayef is popular year-round but is especially enjoyed for Iftar during the month of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims when they fast from dawn to sunset.
Ingredients To Make Qatayef
- Flour: All purpose flour works best for this recipe. Whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour cannot be substituted.
- Powdered milk: This helps with the consistency or the batter and the soft texture of the pancakes. If not available, use unflavored powder coffee creamer.
- Instant yeast: It's best to use instant yeast so you can add it directly to the flour and the rest of the ingredients.
- Sugar: Just a teaspoon of sugar to help activating the yeast.
- Baking powder: You only need ½ teaspoon baking powder for the batter.
- Walnuts: You need to chop the walnuts finely for the filling.
- Sugar: Some granulated sugar is added to the filling for subtle sweetness.
- Cinnamon: The warm flavor of cinnamon complements the walnuts very well.
- Desiccated coconut: Traditional to some, desiccated coconut adds a lot of flavor to these Middle Eastern sweet stuffed pancakes.
- Sugar: The base of this syrup is granulated sugar. It cannot be substituted with brown sugar, stevia, coconut sugar or honey.
- Rosewater: To give it a nice subtle floral flavor and aroma, add a little bit of rosewater at the very end. You can find rosewater at Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops.
How To Make Qatayef
Make The Batter
- Whisk the flour with powdered milk, sugar, instant yeast and baking powder. Add in the water and whisk very well until there are no more lumps. The batter should be smooth and pourable.
- Cover at let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, the batter will have bubbles on the surface. After 30 minutes, uncover and whisk well again.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is ready, measure 2 tablespoons of the batter per pancake and pour into the pan. Cook only on one side until the top is dry and full of bubbles and the bottom is golden. Transfer the pancake to a platter and cover with a kitchen towel to keep from drying.
- Repeat with the remaining pancake batter. Make sure to keep the cooked pancakes covered at all times.
Make The Simple Syrup
While the dough is resting, make the simple syrup:
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the rosewater and turn the heat off. The consistency of the syrup will be similar to pancake syrup.
- Let the simple syrup cool down to room temperature before using.
Make The Filling
- Place the chopped walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and desiccated coconut in a bowl.
- Stir to combine and set aside.
Fill, Fold and Fry
- Once all the pancakes are cooked, grab one and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of it.
- Pinch and seal the pancake from one side to the other. Repeat with the remaining pancakes and fillings, keeping all under a kitchen towel.
- Heat some vegetable oil or any other neutral flavored oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. The oil is ready once it reaches 350 degrees F.
- Place 2-4 qatayef in the oil and fry for 3 minutes until they are golden. Using a slotted spoon, take the qatayef out of the oil and onto a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- After a few seconds, drop the fried qatayef into the syrup and move them around to make sure they're coated well with the syrup. Alternatively, you can drizzle the syrup on the fried qatayef.
- Arrange on a plate and top with ground pistachios or edible roses if desired.
4 Tips For Making Qatayef
- Consistency: Make sure the consistency of the batter is right. If the batter is too thick, the pancakes will break once folded and if the batter is too thin, it won't form properly. If the batter is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of warm water to it.
- Don't overfill: Make sure not to overfill the pancakes otherwise they won't seal completely and will open up when frying.
- Let the batter rest: Since the batter uses yeast, it's important to let it sit and proof so you have the best pancakes.
- Best served immediately: I love qatayef every way they're made, but fresh is my favorite. You can always fill and seal them, then fry once you're ready to serve.
Like many other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean desserts such as baklava and revani, qatayef is a syrup soaked dessert loved by many. It's a classic for the month of Ramadan and we usually serve it with some freshly brewed tea.
You can store qatayef in the fridge for up to 3 days. To serve, it's best to heat them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes so they crisp up a bit.
It's also possible to freeze qatayef. To do so, fill the pancakes with the desired filling and seal them but don't fry them. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour. Then transfer the qatayef to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, fry directly from frozen. It's best to fry one and check the texture and adjust the heat if needed. Then toss in the syrup and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even though it's not traditional to bake the qatayef, but it's doable. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the filled and sealed pancakes on the baking sheet and coat them with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping them once midway, until they are golden and crispy. Then toss them in the simple syrup.
The batter could be too thick. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, whisk well and try again.
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- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp instant yeast
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp powdered milk or powder coffee creamer
- 1 ¾ cup lukewarm water
- Neutral flavored il for frying
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
Make the pancakes
- In a large bowl mix the flour with the sugar, yeast, baking powder and powdered milk. Gradually add in the water and whisk until the batter is smooth and no lumps are left.
- Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes until the batter has bubbles on top. After 30 minutes, uncover and whisk the batter again.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, measure 2 tablespoons of the batter (you can use a cookie or ice cream scoop) and pour it into the pan. Cook only on one side until the top is dry and full of bubbles and the bottom is golden. Transfer the pancakes to a platter and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them soft. Repeat with the remaining pancake batter.
Make the simple syrup
- While the batter is resting, place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, the consistency will be like pancake syrup.
- Add in the rosewater, turn the heat off and let the syrup cool down to room temperature.
Make the filling
- While the batter is resting and the syrup is cooling, make the filling. In a bowl mix the chopped walnuts with sugar, cinnamon and desiccated coconut.
Fill, fold and fry
- Once all the pancakes are cooked, grab one and add about 1 tablespoon of the filling in it. Seal the edges by pinching them from one end to the other to fold the pancakes. Set aside and cover with a kitchen towel. Continue with the remaining pancakes and filling.
- Once you've filled and sealed all the pancakes, pour enough oil in a saucepan to fill in halfway. Heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees F. Fry 2 to 4 qatayef at a time until they're golden on the outside. It takes about 3 minutes to fry each.
- Using a slotted spoon, take the qatayef out of the saucepan and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil. After a minute or so, transfer the warm qatayef to to syrup and move them around to make sure they're fully coated with the syrup.
- Arrange on a platter and top with chopped walnuts, ground pistachios or edible rose petals if desired.
- Alternatively, you can drizzle the syrup on the fried qatayef.
- For baked qatayef, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place the filled and folded qatayef on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Coat them with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, flipping them once halfway until they are crispy and golden. Then transfer them to the syrup and make sure they're coated well.
- Store the leftovers in the fridge and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes before serving.
- To freeze qatayef, fill and seal the pancakes but don't fry them. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour. Transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can fry them from frozen, try one and check to see if it's cooked properly and has the right texture then adjust the heat accordingly. Once they're fried, soak them in the syrup.
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