Updated: Mar 15
Ramadan is a month of reflection, patience, and devotion for Muslims around the world. It is a time to focus on spiritual growth, self-discipline, and acts of kindness. One of the many ways that families can connect with Ramadan and instill these values in children is through cooking and sharing traditional Ramadan dishes. In this blog post, we will explore the tradition of making atayef, a popular sweet treat during Ramadan, with children. We will also discuss how sweets on iftar are a reminder of Allah's reward for our patience in fasting.
Atayef is a delicious dessert that is typically enjoyed during Ramadan, especially during the iftar meal, which is the meal Muslims eat to break their fast at sunset. Atayef is a type of stuffed pancake that is filled with either sweet cheese or nuts, and then fried or baked until golden brown. The pancakes are then drizzled with syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. Making atayef can be a fun and engaging activity for children, as it involves a lot of hands-on work and can be tailored to suit individual tastes.
To involve children in making atayef, start by preparing the filling. You can make a traditional filling of sweet cheese or nuts, or you can get creative and come up with your own unique flavors. Some delicious filling ideas include chocolate and hazelnut, peanut butter and jelly, or even a savory filling like spinach and feta. Have the children help measure out the ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. This is a great opportunity to teach them about measuring, mixing, and following a recipe.
Next, prepare the pancake batter. Atayef is traditionally made with a yeast-based batter, but you can also make a simple pancake batter if you prefer. Here is a recipe for atayef from scratch that I got from my mom:
Ingredients: For the Pancake Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
For the Cheese Filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp rose water
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange blossom water
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Gradually add in the warm water and mix until the batter is smooth. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the batter rise for 30 minutes.
While the batter is rising, make the cheese filling. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, sugar, orange blossom water, and rose water until smooth. Stir in the chopped pistachios.
Once the batter has risen, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet. Use the back of the ladle or a spoon to spread the batter into a thin, round pancake.
Cook the pancake for about 1-2 minutes, until the surface is bubbly and the edges start to curl up. Remove the pancake from the skillet and let it cool for a few seconds.
To fill the pancake, place about 1 tbsp of the cheese filling in the center of the pancake. Fold the pancake in half to form a half-moon shape, and pinch the edges together to seal the filling inside.
At this point, you can either fry the atayef or bake them in the oven. To fry them, heat some vegetable oil in a deep frying pan until it is hot, and then fry the atayef until they are golden brown on both sides. To bake them, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes.
While the atayef are cooking, you can prepare the syrup by combining the sugar, water, lemon juice, and orange blossom water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let the syrup simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly.
Once the atayef are cooked and the syrup is ready, it's time to assemble the dessert. Drizzle the syrup over the atayef and dust them with powdered sugar. Serve them warm and enjoy!
Making atayef with children is not only a fun and engaging activity, but it also provides an opportunity to connect with the spiritual significance of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset as an act of devotion and self-discipline. It is a time to reflect on one's own faith and to develop a closer relationship with Allah. When the fast is broken at sunset, it is a moment of great joy and celebration. Sharing sweet treats like atayef during iftar is a way of acknowledging Allah's reward for our patience and devotion.
The Quran teaches us that Allah rewards those who have patience and persevere through trials and tribulations. In Surah Al-Anfal, it is written: "And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." (8:46) Sweets on iftar are a reminder of Allah's promise to reward us in the afterlife for our patience and perseverance.
Involving children in the preparation of atayef can help them understand the significance of Ramadan and the importance of self-discipline and devotion. It can also teach them valuable skills like measuring, mixing, and following a recipe. Cooking and sharing traditional Ramadan dishes with children is a wonderful way to connect them with their cultural and religious heritage.
Making atayef with children is a fun and engaging activity that can help them connect with the spiritual significance of Ramadan. By involving them in the preparation of traditional Ramadan dishes like atayef, we can instill in them values of self-discipline, devotion, and kindness. Sweets on iftar are not only a delicious treat but also a reminder of Allah's promise to reward us in the afterlife for our patience and perseverance. I hope this recipe and information will inspire you to try making atayef with your children or loved ones during Ramadan.