middle eastern sweets

Pistachio Eid Cookies

I usually do not do a lot of baking for Eid but this Eid I decided to make some cookies. I made a few different batches and I will share the other recipes with you later on when I get some more time. I bought some mini cookie cutters from Wilton a few months ago and I finally got to use them with this recipe. Arabic cookies are always really small and never like the big cookies have we in the West. These are pretty much like a sugar cookie with pistachios and cardamom. I made half of the batch plain and then I sprinkled some green sugar (which I made from course brown sugar and green dye) on top. They were the perfect mix for those who like sweet and those (like my husband) who do not. I hope each one of you all is having a blessed Eid!

1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground pistachios
1 cup flour (maybe a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash baking soda
dash salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. In a large mixing bowl add butter and sugar, mix until fluffy. Add egg, mix. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and pistachios, mix well. Add flour, mix until a soft dough has formed.

2. Place dough in a plastic bag and place in freezer for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 350F. On a non-stick mat carefully roll out dough (not to thin or thick) and with mini cookie cutters cut dough.

3. Place cookies on a non-stick baking mat in the oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden on the bottoms. Cool and serve.

Yields: 60

*In China pistachios are known as ‘happy nut’.

Fatin Hareth


Black seeds have served as an important health and beauty aid to Arabs for years. Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said that black seed is a cure for everything but death. [ Al-Bukhaari, 5364; Muslim, 2215]

In Saudi Arabia black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach problems, fatigue, cancer and much more. The whole seeds and oil is used to beautify skin and hair. Fatin
Hareth is an old fashioned recipe made in the southern province of Saudi Arabia. This is not a hard recipe to make but you should not leave the stove what so ever while making it to make sure nothing burns as it only takes a handful of seconds to cook each batch.
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons black seeds
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/4 cup oil (I used sunflower or corn oil) plus more for frying
4-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a small bowl add yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder and sugar, mix. Add black seeds, yogurt, oil, and vanilla and yeast mixture. Mix well. Add a little bit of water at a time until dough consistency has formed. Place a small amount of oil onto hands and rub around dough ball. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for 1 hour.
3. In a small skillet on medium heat add enough for frying (about 1/4 cup). On a lightly floured surface (I use non-stick baking mats) with a rolling pin roll dough thin (paper thin). Carefully cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and then into triangles up and down the long strips. Place into hot oil frying on each side until golden.
4. Drain on a paper towel. Drizzle or dip into sheerah (sugar syrup) afterwards then serve.
Yields: 4-1/2 cups

Chocolate Biscuit Dessert


I first had this dessert at my mother in laws. I have to admit when I saw it I did not think I would like it; it is just something I have never tried before. My son and I ended up eating the entire pan, no joke that is how good it is. This reminded me of a Saudi version of southern banana pudding. The tea biscuits and the chocolate combine so well overnight. I have never seen any Qashta in the states so you can make your own version here.

Since I originally posted this recipe I have since went back and reworked it and the ingredients to make sure that everyone would be able to make it. This recipe has been viewed thousands of times thus making it a popular one yet some of the ingredients were only available in Saudi. I wanted to give everyone a chance to make it. I prefer this new recipe it has so much more flavor. Also if you can not find tea biscuits you can use vanilla wafers (we do not have those here).

2 (200 gram) tea biscuit packets
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (170 gram) can

1. In a large mixing bowl add cream, with a hand held mixer beat until peaks form. Add powdered sugar and cocoa, mix well with blender. Fold in qashta, mix.

2. In an 8×8 dish add cream mixture and spread out all over bottom of dish. Add a layer of tea biscuits (in 3 strips up and down) and continue layering mixtures. Cream layer should be on top. Crumble 2-3 biscuits and sprinkle on top.

3. Cover dish with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hour.

Yields: 6 servings
*updated from 2/18/09

Honey Glazed Pistachio Muffins

Early Bedouins
were eager to exchange fresh goat meat, produce or woven baskets for the
cardamom that burdened the camels of the tradesmen. Cardamom has always been a
favorite of the Arabs with their coffees, main dishes and sweets. Honey is also
a valuable ingredient for Arabs for its flavor and medical properties. Honey is
used as a salve for burns, helping women gain strength after birth, cold and
coughs and all around general health in the Kingdom. Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu
‘alayhi wa Sallam said “Make use of the two remedies: honey and the
Quran.” (At-Tirmithi)

evening I decided to make 5 perfect dainty muffins. They have no oil or butter
in them and you will not dare miss it. The crunch of the pistachios, scent of
the cardamom and sweet honey glaze will leave a light linger on your palate.

8-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk
4 tablespoons beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
3 heaping tablespoons yogurt
3 tablespoons crushed pistachios
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
honey for glaze

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom, mix well.

2. Add buttermilk, egg, vanilla and yogurt, mix well. Fold in pistachios.

3. Line 5 liners into a muffin pan and fill 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

4. Brush honey on tops with a pasty brush.

Yields: 5