Classic Qatayef with Nuts
Ramadan’s most iconic treat of the Middle East! Made from yeasted pancakes stuffed with nuts, fried to crunchy, golden perfection, then doused in a thick sugar syrup. Plus…recipe VIDEO included!
It’s the first day of Ramadan!!! Hands down, my favorite time of the year!
I’ve talked so many times about why I love this month so much (like here and here), that I’m starting to sound like a broken record. So I’ll spare you the chitchat this time and go straight to the first of many Middle Eastern desserts that I plan to share with you this month!
And boy is it a good one!
If the month of Ramadan had a food mascot, it surely has to be this…the glorious Qatayef.
In Egypt, no other food says Ramadan more than Qatayef.
Sure, all Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods, especially desserts, have their great significance and presence during the month, but Qatayef is the real star.
Or to be more accurate…the real “crescent.” ?
Konafas, baklavas, Om Alis and the rest of the Mediterranean bunch are thoroughly enjoyed throughout the year, but with more focus and celebration during Ramadan.
But I have never, ever seen a Qatayef in Egypt outside the realm of Ramadan. Not that I know of at least.
As soon as Ramadan rolls by though, chances are you’re seeing it every. single. day.
No one’s complaining here. With its dozens of variations, from sweet to savory, it’s very hard to get bored of them
Qatayef (also spelled a dozen different ways from katayef to atayef) is a form of Arabic dumpling made from a type of yeasted pancake batter with a little surprise in the center. They can be soft or crunchy, baked or fried or left as is. They can be sweet or savory, half open or closed. They can be filled with cream, nuts, cheese, fruits or the newest twist, Nutella. But of course.
This variation right here, is the one I grew up eating every Ramadan and is perhaps the most traditional of them all; The Classic Nut-filled One. Ridiculously crunchy on the outside with a medley of fragrant nuts in the middle and bursting with sticky, syrupy sweetness with every bite.
Ofcourse I didn’t love it as much when I was younger because…NUTS! Kids tend to be weird about nuts y’all. My kids actually crack the qatayef open like a fortune cookie, empty its contents on a plate and eat it plain. Arrrrrrggggghhhh!
During Ramadan, ready-made pancakes (qatayef dough) are sold in oriental bakeries and supermarkets all over the Middle East. But due to their high demand, they tend to go out of stock so quickly; which can be very frustrating when everyone’s expecting qatayef by iftar (breaking fast) time. So after trying my hands at making them from scratch, I’m never ever buying ready-made pancakes again. Not only are their cleanliness and availability guaranteed, but they are incredibly easy to make. If you can make regular pancakes, then you can make these with your eyes closed…because they are waaaaay easier. No flipping, no burnt surfaces and raw middle…none…nadaaa…zilch!
Here’s a quick look at how they come together:
The batter comes together as easy as throwing together a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and stirring it around by hand. There’s yeast in the dough, which gives the pancakes their distinctive taste and bubbly appearance, but don’t let it scare. Just make sure that you use ‘instant’ yeast and you’ll be fine.
The batter will need to rest for about 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook it. As with almost everything I make, I LOVE using an ice cream scoop for portioning the batter here too! So convenient and makes them all the same size.
So as you scoop (or ladle) the batter on your skillet, you’ll see a gazillion bubbles forming up. That’s cool! It’s the way its supposed to be. Once the surface is no longer wet, then its done. See? No flipping! These guys are cooked on only one side!
So they’ll look all pancake-ish on one side, and like a paler, rounder Sponge Bob on the other. Once they cool, they’re ready to fill. Feel free to use these pancakes as a vehicle to whatever filling your hearts desires. But today, let me show you my favorite!
Its a combination of hazelnuts, pine nuts and raisins, rubbed with a tiny bit of butter and a sprinkling of sugar. So simple but so good. Ofcourse, every Middle Easterner and their mother has their own special filling recipe that they swear by, but this in mother-in-law’s and for me…its perfection. Ofcourse you could improvise all you want to suit your taste. I know lots of people who love adding coconut and cinnamon, so by all means go for it, if that’s your thing.
To fill them up, all you need to do is to put enough nuts in the center that would allow that pancakes to comfortably close without tearing; about a heaping teaspoon.
Then to close, you’ll just fold the pancake in half and pinch the sides firmly with your fingertips to seal.
At this point, you could freeze them for up to a month and have yourself some Qatayef at a moment’s notice.
Or you could just go ahead and fry them to perfection. I like to go very deep golden brown, because I like them extra crunchy. If you like them softer, remove them from the fryer earlier when their lighter in color.
Then comes a good dive in sugar syrup.
Followed by a brief rest on the wire rack to get rid of excess syrup.
And your Qatayef is ready to be served!
In case you’re wondering, this plate says: “Ramadan Kareem” in Arabic. It literally translates to ” Generous Ramadan” and its a popular greeting we use to wish people to have ‘a very bountiful and blessed Ramadan showered by God’s generosity.’
So Ramadan Kareem to ALL of you my amazing readers. I hope you enjoy my 2 cents about Middle East food and traditions throughout this month.
And eat Qatayef in moderation ?
Classic Qatayef with Nuts
A Middle Eastern favorite and the ultimate Ramadan treat! Made from yeasted pancakes stuffed with nuts, fried to crunchy, golden perfection, then doused in a thick sugar syrup.
For the Dipping Sugar Syrup:
- 2 cups (14oz/ 400g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (237ml) water
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, about 1 teaspoon
For the Pancakes (Qatayef batter): (1 lb/ 500g of readymade Arabic pancakes, Qatayef dough, may be substituted)
- 2 cups (8 1/2 oz/ 240g) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (3/8oz/ 12g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (1/4oz/ 8g) powdered milk (dried milk powder)
- 1 teaspoons (4g) instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups (425ml) warm water
For my Favorite Nut Filling: (Feel free to sub in your favorite nut, or add flavorings like cinnamon, rose water or shredded unsweetened coconut flakes)
- 1/3 cup (1 3/4oz/ 50g) skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup (1 3/4oz/ 50g) pine nuts, lightly toasted on a dry skillet
- 1/3 cup (1 3/4oz/ 50g) golden raisins
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g/ 5/8oz) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (14g/ 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
- Oil, for frying
To make the Dipping Simple Syrup: (can be made up to a week in advance)
- In a medium saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on the stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the sugar is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, STOP stirring.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly, and have a consistency similar to pancake syrup. If it simmers for longer it could thicken too much and become candy-like.
- Remove off the heat and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature before dipping the Qatayef.
To make the Pancakes (Qatayef dough):
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, powdered milk, yeast, baking powder and salt.
- Pour in about half the amount of warm water, whisking vigorously until no lumps remain. Gradually add in the remaining water, whisking after each addition, until well combined and a loose, pourable batter is formed. It should have the consistency of a classic pancake batter. If its thicker than that, then add a tablespoon or so of water to thin it out a bit.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour until bubbly and rises slightly.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. Put a drop of oil on the skillet, then use a paper towel to wipe it all over the skillet to lightly grease.
- Give the batter a good stir to deflate. Using a small ladle or ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter over the skillet. The pancakes should be about 3 inches/ 8cm in diameter.
- Allow to gently cook on one side, WITHOUT flipping on the other side, until lots of bubbles form around the surface of the pancake. Leave it to cook longer until the surface is no longer wet and the bottom is light golden brown. Adjust the heat if your pancakes are either too pale or too brown. Continue with the remaining batter. Lay the pancakes, bubbles side up on a large plate or baking sheet without stacking them on top of each other or they'll stick together, and keep them covered with a clean towel while you make the rest of the pancakes.
- Allow to cool completely before filling. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use, so they don't dry out.
To Fill and Fry the Pancakes (Qatayef):
- In a small bowl, combine together the hazelnuts, pine nuts and raisins (or your favorite nuts). Stir in the sugar, then blend in the butter until all the nuts are coated with the butter.
- With the bubbly side facing up, fill each pancake center with enough nuts that would allow that pancakes to comfortably close without tearing; about a heaping teaspoon.
- Fold the pancake in half and pinch the sides firmly with your fingertips to seal. At this point, you could freeze them for up to a month for later use (*see note below for more details about freezing)
- In a frying pan, pour enough oil to fill 2 inches/ 5 cm high and heat over medium-high until very hot (350F to 375C/ 175C to 190C).
- Add the stuffed pancakes (Qatayef), and fry for 2 to 4 minutes per sides or until deep golden brown and crisp. If you prefer them softer, then take them out earlier, when they're still light golden brown. The longer you fry them and deeper the color, the crispier they're gonna be.
- Transfer the Qatayef to drain on some paper towels for a few minutes. Then while still hot, dip the Qatayef into the cooled dipping sugar syrup, tossing and turning them to make sure they're well coated. Transfer Qatayef to a wire rack or sieve that has been placed over a piece of aluminum foil, and allow excess syrup to drip.
- Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with pistachios or coconut flakes, if desired.
- Enjoy warm or a room temperature. Best served within a few hours of frying to maintain its crunchy exterior. They will soften up slightly as they sit
- Store covered with foil, that has been poked with holes, so they stay crunchier longer.
- Qatayef freezes beautifully, which makes them a very convenient make ahead dessert. Once the pancakes are stuffed, they could be frozen for up to month. To freeze, lay the Qatayef in a single layer over a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours until they harden. Transfer to a zipper lock bag then store in the freezer, until ready to fry. Fry directly from frozen; no need to thaw.
Qatayef dough recipe adapted from Chef Mohamed Fawzy
Nut filling given to me by my mother-in-law
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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Ramadan Mubarak…OMG these are so beautiful. I love them. What is your fav savory thing to eat at ifthar? I love anything cheesy. Your pics are amazing
Ramadan Mubarak to you too Iram! I’m a cheese girl through & through too. We love eating the savory version of these Qatayef filled with feta cheese and mint. But my favorite just has to be minced meat samosas, as well as these cheese lovers’ samosas:
I love learning all about your holidays! I’m enjoying the posts and looking forward to more! I’ve never had any of these treats but they all look delicious. I love this one because it looks pretty easy and doesn’t have any hard to get ingredients. Really, Tasbih…it looks sooo good!
I’m so happy you’re enjoying these posts Ramona. I was worried that I’d bore those not celebrating? I love learning about other holidays and the traditional foods that comes with it too! It’s always very interesting to learn some new and a change from same old same old that we’re used to. I can’t wait to show you more of our traditional foods. I feel like I keep forgetting about them throughout the year and realize how much I’ve missed them once I start making them again.
Thank you Ramona for your kind words. You know how special you are to me☺️
LOVE Middle Eastern food and a friend told me of your food blog, so excited.
These look all kinds of delicious and the photos are outstanding. I need to try and make these, thanks for inspiring. Love your description too – a paler, rounder Sponge Bob! Ramadan Kareem to you and your family Tasbih!
WoW! Thank you so much for everything Kevin! Your compliments, your greetings and your kindness. So sweet! I’m so happy you left a comment so I could discover your blog and I must say WHOOOOOAAAAA!!! Your recipes look amazing and photography is incredible. You now have a new fan from Egypt!
My dad makes THE best atayef! He’s famous in our family for his atayef. I made these yesterday and I think my dad felt a little threatened. They were AMAZING! I used almonds, walnuts and cinnamon for the filling because my husband doesn’t like raisins, and those were the raw nuts I had on hand. Delicious!!!! I’m loving the Ramadan dessert series! I’ve always had a problem making traditional Ramadan desserts because you can never get an exact recipe from people and that is what I need! I can’t work with the kind of recipes that are “a little of this, a bit more of that”. Thank you 🙂
Hahahaaaa Lina you made me laugh! Yo I can’t compete with your dad, but I’m happy to have come close?
I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying this Middle Eastern special because girl I feel your pain! Sadly there isn’t enough reliable sources for the yummy Middle Eastern desserts we grew up with and you could never get a measurable recipe from our parents’ generation. They eyeballed EVERYTHING and relied on their senses more than anything else while cooking. It’s a great 7th sense of course, but I find that the results are never consistent this way. Just like you, I like to start with an accurate recipe and then tweak it if needed. I hope that through this blog, I could gradually build a good collection of “measurable” and reliable Middle Eastern recipe archive that anyone could make without having to second guess anything.
Dear Tasbih, unfortunately we don’t have powdered milk here in Germany, can I just leave it out?
Hi Samia! Yes. You can omit it and use 3/4 cup milk plus 1 cup water. Enjoy ?
Looks amazing! Any reason you don’t use semolina flour with regular flour in the recipe? Most old recipes mix both types of flour.
Thank you Menna! There isn’t really a reason behind this. When I was researching recipes, all of them called for flour only, with the exception of one that had semolina in it, so I figured that that’s the norm. I imagine semolina would be great here because of its crunch. Maybe one day I could experiment with it. Have you ever tried an atayef recipe with semolina? I’d love to know how it differs.
First pregnancy i made foul w ta3meya from scratch. Second time around I’ve been craving atayef and finally found your blog (auc group). These disappeared before they even cooled down! Any idea if baking instead of frying would work?
Pregnancy craving are the craziest! I’m so happy these atayef satisfied yours?
I guess you could brush them with some oil and bake them in the oven but to be honest, they just won’t be the same. They won’t be as crunchy but they still taste good.
I need a littile help with theese. My story is that I tasted qatayef first time at an iftar party here and it was love at the first bite….
I reaaaallly want to make it at home but the filling they used was something white and creamy. I guess it was some sort of pudding filling you mentioned. Can you pleeeeaaaaase help me with this????
Not that I don’t like nuts but the qatayef which I tasted has left me blind for anything else.
I think I could help you with that! I just need you to give me more details. Was the pancake itself soft or fried until crunchy? Was it half closed or closed up all the way like this one?
It was closed up all the way and fried till crunchy. Just like the one you have shown here.
And I don’t think it was cheese or eshta filling. Also it wasn’t too creamy. My best guess is that it was the type of filling you used in the classic konafa.
But I’ll leave it to you…
Ok got it ? So you stuff the pancakes with this creamy pudding from this konafa post:
Then do everything else the same:)
Enjoy and please let me know how it turns out!
Beautiful my mom is was from Egypt few days back she tried making qatayef.I tasted it wow it was good so I tried reaching her on phone because I travelled with out getting the recipe.thanks to your page may Allah reward you.I’ll give it a try looking forward to see more of your recipes.cheers islam.
Hi Tasbih. Welcome back and Ramadan Mubarak 🙂
I wanted to ask can I use the same batter for savory qatayef? Or should I omit the sugar? Thank u
Ramadan Mubarak to you too! Thanks:)
This will work just fine for savory qatayef. Personally, I wouldn’t omit the sugar because I think it adds the slightest hint of sweetness that rounds out the flavor & nicely balances a salty filling, but you could reduce it just a bit if you prefer. You still need a little though to feed the yeast. So if you choose to reduce, try going with about 1 teaspoon.
Awesome. Thank u so much 🙂
My atayef stop bubbling after hmm the first one, how can ifix that?
Is it too thick? Could it be the yeast, are there different kinds?
It’s definitely the yeast. Either it could be expired or the wrong kind. Please make sure that it’s ‘instant’ otherwise you need to activate it in some warm water & a little sugar before adding it to the dry ingredients. Also make sure that the water is not hot, because hot water kills yeast.
I just made this and it was absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much. 😀
One thing I slightly struggled with, though, was sticking the ends of the pancake together. When I tried pinching the sides together they just wouldn’t stick and would instantly come apart. Eventually I got some extra dough and mixed it with water and used that as an adhesive, which worked fine. I was wondering though, do you have any simpler ways that make the dough more sticky?
So happy you loved this recipe Ali! The pancakes can dry out pretty quickly if they’re not covered really well after they’re cooked & cooled. If they dry out, they won’t stick as easily. So always make sure that they’re placed in an airtight bag, container or plastic wrap in order to prevent the air from drying them out. In case you experience this again, I think a dab of water should work well as an adhesive. If not, then a simple adhesive made with a bit of flour thinned with some water should do the trick.
Wishing you better luck next time ?
Hey, i was wondering the freezing process goes also if i left them unfilled? or filled with cheese or cream? or only the ones filled with nuts can be frozen?
Hi Lina! I wouldn’t recommend freezing them unfilled because they tend to lose their stickiness which means you’ll have a hard time closing them shut. But you could definitely freeze the cheese filled ones the same way as the nuts ones.
Hi Tasbih! Ramadan Kareem. So happy that you’re back with more delicious recipes. I know this receipt is for nut-filled atayef but given your expertise I thought I’d ask you about frying cheese-filled atayef. I filled some with a mix of mascarpone and fresh mozzarella (and some rose and orange blossom water) but they all burst half-way through the frying process (not from the seams). Should I have have put them in the freezer first before frying?
Hi Roba! Thank you for your kind words. I think the reason for their bursting has to do with the choice of cheese. Mozzarella is great with frying but mascarpone is very creamy and high in fat, it’s practically cream more than it is cheese, which does not behave well in frying. It like as your frying fat in fat. I’d suggest using a sturdier cheese that has a less fat context like ricotta instead, or akkawi, and definitely stay away from cream cheese. Freezing will also help.
I made these a few days ago and they were delicious. My family loved them. Shukrn for the lovely recipe and all the detailed pictures. They helped a lot.
I made the kunafah cream to fill some of them and now have a bit of cream leftover. Can you tell me what else I can use the cream in besides kunafah?
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Thank you. I am not Muslin but my mom was born in Egypt and she used to make these to me all the time. Unfortunately she passed away 20 years ago I never got to learn this recipe. I wanted to make it for my kids in her memory. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.. All the best.
Dominique I’m so touched by your comment. I hope this recipe lives us to the ones your dear mother made and brings back the sweetest memories of her. May she rest in peace.
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Looks great! I love Qatayef and only eat it when we visit Egypt in the summer. My mum freezes them and keep them for us ? we don’t have powdered milk here, is it fine to make it without it? Thank you! Xx
Hi Rania! Yes, just use milk instead of the water. Enjoy a taste of Egypt while abroad ?
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Hi! I do not have any dry milk powder handy. I was wondering if I can reduce the water and instead use regular milk?
Hi Heba! You can omit the powdered milk and use 3/4 cup milk and 1 cup water instead. Enjoy ?
I don’t have all purpose flour , only whole wheat flour used for chapati. Will that work? Also is there a substitue for powder milk?
If you use whole-wheat flour you’ll need to increase the amount of liquid as it’s more absorbent than white flour. I’m not sure how much you’ll need to increase, but you can keeping adding until you reach a consistency than is between a pancake and a crepe batter. Not as thick as pancakes and not as thin as crepe.
You can omit the powdered milk and use 3/4 cup milk & 1 cup water instead.
I’m a HUGE fan of your blog and I’ve baked so many of your recipes and none have ever disappointed. I made the atayef but they didn’t turn out very crunch do you have any recommendations for which ingredient I can add a tiny bit more of that might help with that crunch?
Hi Amina! I feel that what gets them really crunchy, is frying them for a long time. Like get them deep, deep golden brown. If you leave them just golden, they’re definitely gonna be softer. If your batter was on the thicker side, like pancakes batter, then you’d want to thin it out with some water. That should also help get them crunchier. Hope that helps!
I made it for my Father-in-law’s birthday and he loved it! Thanks so much for the recipe ?
They look so beautiful Jaquelyn ? Love the rose petals. I hope the made your FIL’s birthday a little extra sweet.
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