Greetings to my Muslim Citizens who have just finished the holy fasting month of Ramadan with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr! These delicious nut cookies from Lebanon are a classic accompaniment to the Eid al-Fitr holiday, as well as Easter for Lebanese Christians!
Maamoul is an ancient Arab dessert filled pastry or cookie made with dates, pistachios or nuts such as walnuts (occasionally almonds). They may be in the shape of balls, domed or flattened cookies. They can either be decorated by hand or be made in special wooden molds.
Maamoul is usually made a few days before Eid, then stored to be served with Arabic coffee and chocolate to the guests who come during the holiday. It is popular throughout the Arab world, especially in the Levant.
Maamoul originate from date-filled kahk, a similar cookie eaten by Egyptians for Eid al-Fitr and Easter. Kahk have been eaten in Egypt since the Eighteenth Dynasty, 3500 years ago, and have been part of the Eid feast since the 10th century AD Tulunid dynasty. The Arabic word Ma’amoul (Arabic: معمول) is derived from the Arabic verb Arabic: ‘amala, meaning to “to do”.
Many households keep a stock of them all year round, but they are particularly used on religious festivals.
Muslims eat them at night during Ramadan and on the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays, Arab Christians and Greeks eat them in the days before Lent, on Easter Sunday and on the feast of Epiphany. In the Christian traditions of the Mediterranean area, the cookies are marked with a cross, or shaped into rings to symbolize the crown of Jesus.
They are also popular among Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian Jewish communities, where ma’amoul with nut fillings are eaten on Purim, and ma’amoul with date fillings are eaten on Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. The Levantine Jewish version of maamoul differs from the Levantine or Turkish versions by being made with pure white flour and no semolina, today this variation is eaten in Syrian and Egyptian Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
You don’t need tabbeh (a beautifully carved wooden mold for making maamoul at home) to make maamoul, but the molds are traditionally used to give the cookies their distinctive shapes and ornate designs. Circular molds are traditionally used for date maamoul and oblong for nut maamoul. You can buy the proper maamoul mold for this recipe here.
Some bakers shape maamoul by hand or use the tines of a fork or a metal pincher to decorate the cookies. Other bakers make a simple bar cookie variation on maamoul (maamoul madd) with a layer of filling between shortbread crusts.
My version is spiced to TFD standards – I hope you enjoy it, Citizens! 😀
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