Why would someone deny themselves food and water during daylight hours for the entire month of Ramadan, one might ask? One word. Qateyef. (pronounced something like (guh-TAH-yuf). When Ramadan starts, these qateyef grills spring up like mushrooms all over Jordan. Here is the shop of Abu Ali, the best qateyef maker in all of Amman, and the line waiting for his qateyef that stretches five floors down a stone staircase.
And here is how to make them.
Buy a package of freshly made qadeyef at your local Arab store (the mosques ladies make them at home with Aunt Jemima pancake mix).
Put your favorite filling–okay, “favourite”– on half of the qateyef. Fold it over and pinch the edges together (they are a little bit sticky). On the left is cheese “mostly ricotta” mixed by the bakery (but with a little extra sweet and salt flavor) and on the right is chopped walnuts.
At this point, some Jordanian cooks will float the qateyef briefly in a boiling attar bath. I don’t do this because 1) they come out too sweet and 2) I can’t keep them from falling apart in the pot. So I heated these in a pan in the toaster oven. Here is the attar that will get poured over them:
The ingredients are sugar, water, orange flower water, and lemon juice. I guessed at the proportions and it came out perfectly. Put the warm qateyef on a plate and drench them with the attar. Then enjoy. Many like to smoke an after iftar argila. This one has apple flavored tobacco (tufaa تفاحة ). The tobacco goes in the top, covered with aluminum foil with holes poked in it. A glowing piece of charcoal is placed on the top. In the U.S., argila charcoal is hard to come by, so many use self lighting charcoal that comes in commercially prepared rolls wrapped in aluminum foil. All you do is remove one perfectly round piece of charcoal, hold it over a lighter or a burner until it is glowing, then put it on top of the aluminum foil.
I am still missing a couple details for Ramadan. For one thing I haven’t done any charitable works yet, so I will have to start sorting my clothes and find something to donate. The other thing is that one-thirtieth of the Koran is usually read every day, but it is done in a special mosque service called taraweh. The mosque is really too far away to participate in that–on a regular basis at least–so I may have to find a substitute reading activity. Already I have some ideas.