Palestine: Qatayef, A Special Ramadan Dessert

During Ramadan one of the special dishes enjoyed throughout the Arab world is qatayef, small pancakes stuffed with various sweet fillings. One blogger in Gaza has watched them being made, and another Gazan blogger provides a recipe.

In Gaza, Canadian Eva Bartlett encounters a qatayef maker:

Walking along Gaza’s streets there’s always something to notice. Today it was a man, piping batter into rounds on a large electric hotplate to cook what look like pancakes. Qatayef.

I stop to chat and photograph the process, batter turning golden, one of the owner’s sons deftly flipping the rounds from hotplate to table.

Nearly everything in Gaza is improvised for want of the real thing, thanks to the unavailability of everyday items, banned by Israel. Abu Rami, the owner, pipes the qatayef batter through half a bottle, spout-side down. It does the job.

Eva made this short film:

She continues:

He explains the sweet, how to make it and what filling to stuff it with, the mutters something in quick Arabic to one of his sons. Moments later, the son re-appears and I’m called into a room behind the qatayef set-up.

“Try these,” Abu Rami says, handing me freshly cooked qatayef. Finished, they are crescent-shape, stuffed with either a soft white cheese or a mixture of nuts, cinnamon and sugar, fried, and served in a sugar sauce. I decline for the moment, but put them in my bag for later.

Tayeb, okay, you must come for iftaar tonight, meet my wife and children and have fresh qatayef,” he tells me, a perfect stranger.


Qatayef by Eva Bartlett (, used with permission

Laila El Haddad, blogging at Gaza Mom, provides a recipe for qatayef:

Qatayif, or as they are pronounced in colloquial Arabic, Atayif, are a confection that make their welcome presence in the Holy month of Ramadan. Though they are not unique to Gaza, any Ramadan recipes collection would be incomplete without them.

In most of the Middle East, the pancake dough for the Atayif can be purchased ready-made in almost any confectionery store (in fact you will be hard pressed to find someone who makes them at home). In Gaza, street vendors pop up all over the place around maghrib time (sunset), selling everything you need to make Atayif: the pancakes (already cooked), the stuffing, and if you are in a rush-they even sell them pre-fried or stuffed. They are quite the experts at mixing and pouring out the batter out of conical containers that create the perfect consistency.

I got this recipe from one such vendor in Khan Younis several years ago, with some adjustments. True Atayif should be made with extra fine semolina flour, but this is almost impossible to find in the US (if one uses what is available, the resulting pancake will break apart once you try to stuff it).

For the recipe see Laila's post here.


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