Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 28, Tuesday, July 12, 2011



Take a break from being Halwad over!

If halwa had a national day devoted to it then without any contest, this would be it, Shab-e-Barat. For years now we have had halwa on this day; Des'ree Daily Desserts, the new name for desserts in town, decided to do something different this time around. Des'ree is offering eight different items which will be available till Eid-ul-Fitr.

“People's taste buds are jaded. I wanted to tweak their taste buds, so I came up with this new offer. Every mom makes her signature halwas every year, but I wanted to do something different from that. These desserts may not be Bangladeshi ones, but most of them are traditional Muslim desserts from around the world,” says Anahita Ahmed the creator of Des'ree.

When asked why she did not go for the conventional desserts instead of the ones that she has offered she said, “I do not like the idea of having brownies and cakes on this occasion; they just do not go together. But I do not like the idea of having halwa every year either. Thus, I chose these recipes which are healthy as well as exotic and rich in nuts and citrus”.

You can choose the one that gets your salivary glands excited from the following:

A sweet cake made from semolina, coming soaked in rose-lemon syrup, with a crumbling

Pistachio base. Luxurious, yet not so sweet, it is perfect with a cup of mint tea. 18 triangles

come for Tk 1250.

Kaab El Ghazal
The name of these cresent-shaped cookies which are widely popular in Algeria and Morocco translates into Gazelles Ankles or Gazelles Horns. These are cookies filled with a mildly sweet almond paste flavoured with cinnamon and rose water. Two dozens of these are worth Tk 1400.

A member of the Jewish cuisine, this pastry is recognized by its triangular shape and is traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Des'ree's Hamantash comes in two flavours: orange-date filling and savoury cheese. Two dozen come for Tk 1300.

Kue Nastar
Typically made during holidays, these pineapple cookies are Indonesian delights. These are made with a home-made pineapple jam filling closed in a crumbly pastry. Tk 1000 will get you a dozen of these.

This cookie, which is perfect for those who do not prefer too much sweetness, has a lovely, crumbly, unique texture and is a perfect accompaniment to halwas. 24 pieces can be bought with Tk 1000.

This pastry comprised of a simple crispy shell stuffed with minced beef, nuts, tomato and spices is a popular dish in the Middle East. 20 pastries are available for Tk 1500.

Herbed Garlic-Cheese Loaf
This is made of small layers of dough rolled in a garlic herb butter and sprinkled with cheese before heading to the oven to bake. When it emerges, the bread is so soft, tender, and packed with flavour. Pne loaf is available for Tk 400.

The flat, crusty oven-baked Italian bread comes with glorious herbs in its regular 9" X 12" form for Tk 800. But, you can dress it up in the onion and cheese, olives, capers, sausage and cheese or tomatoes and cheese if in season for Tk 1000.

So if you are indeed bored with the halwas every year Des'ree is the name for you.

(To contact Des'ree you can email at desreedesserts@gmail.com with your details, time of delivery and address. Or call at 01754079229. All deliveries around Dhaka are free of charge.)

By Karishma Ameen
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed



middle eastern delight

Found throughout the Middle East, this is a mildly sweet shortbread-style cookie with a unique texture, perfect for diabetics and diet freaks.

2 cups all-purpose flour,
1 cup icing sugar,
1 cup butter
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp rose water
Shelled natural pistachios for garnishing

Preheat oven to 300°F/Gas Mark 3. Beat together flour, sugar, butter, cardamom and rose water in a bowl with an electric mixer until a smooth dough forms. The dough can be kept refrigerated, wrapped in cling film. Roll dough into balls -- the size of a tablespoon and then roll each ball into a rope. Form each rope into a circle, overlapping ends. Press a nut into each cookie at overlap. Arrange cookies, on ungreased baking sheets and bake in oven for 20 minutes until dry to the touch. Transfer cookies to a rack/tray to cool.

Sfouf (Lebanese Semolina Cake)

Sfouf is a sweet, nutty cake from Lebanon with an easy and delicious recipe.

2 cups semolina
1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar, plus 3 tbsp
1½ cups milk
½ cup water
1 cup ground nuts of your choice

Preheat oven to 350°F/ Gas Mark 4. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish. In a mixing bowl stir to combine semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine butter, sugar, milk and water. Add to dry ingredients and stir to make a paste. Sprinkle the nuts on the bottom of the dish and then pour the batter on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Cut into triangles for serving

These crescent-shaped cookies are widely popular in Algeria and Morocco.

1½ cup plain flour
½ cup melted butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 pinch of baking powder
1½ cup nut paste for filling (any nuts of your choice)

Mix flour, sugar and butter. Add the baking powder and then add the milk slowly and continue mixing until dough comes together. Preheat your oven to 350F/Gas Mark 4. Roll out the dough and cut it into triangles. Using a sharp knife, make three vertical incisions at the centre of each triangle. Take small pieces of the nut paste and roll them between your hands into thin “cigars”, the length of the base of the triangle. Place these in the base of the triangle and roll the dough over until you obtain a cigar like shape. Bend your “cigar” slightly to shape it as a crescent shape. Brush them lightly with the beaten egg and bake for 12-16 min, until lightly coloured. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

For the syrup:
1¼ cups honey
1¼ cups water
1¼ cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Fresh citrus peel
Few cloves or a pinch of ground clove

For the filling:
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces
All spice
3/4 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup sugar

20 Sheets of Phyllo dough or 40 Wonton Sheets (available at Gulshan kacha bazaar and any superstore frozen food aisle)
1 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and peel, allow cooling as baklava bakes.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/Gas Mark 4. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first Phyllo sheet. Brush the first Phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. Spread a 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering Phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times.

On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of Phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance. With a sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. When the baklava is baked, remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warm) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container.

Rakakat bi Jibin
It is a savoury item, like a pie, the recipe for basic pie dough follows.

1 cup crumbled cheese
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 cup minced mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Just add a tablespoon of the mixture to the middle of the circle of dough and make the edges meet to form a boat shape. Put on a greased cookie sheet and bake on 500 °F/ Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes.

Basic Dough for Pies

2 lbs. flour
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle of dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 cups lukewarm water
½ tsp sugar

Dissolve yeast into ¼ cup of warm water. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover and let rise. In a large pan, mix flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter. Gradually add the lukewarm water, mixing and kneading until the dough is smooth and tender. Cover with a towel and put in a warm place for 2 hours or until dough rises.

Cut dough into pieces 2 to 2½ inch diameter. Form into balls by tucking the dough underneath the balls to make them round and smooth. Let rest for 30 minutes between the blankets.

By Anahita Ahmed
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Desserts by: Des'ree Daily Desserts
Contact: 01754079229, 01752844527; desreedesserts@gmail.com



middle eastern delight

Shab-e-barat is a night of prayers and pleas. A night when mortals come close to the supreme, almighty in a quest to achieve salvation, cleanse sins of the past and renew the bond between the human and his creator.

And of course, this is also the night for those with a sweet-tooth. Traditionally, womenfolk of the house-hold spend busy time preparing sweets and savouries for the family and neighbours. Halwas, rice-flour chapattis and more have been the staple at the households come every Lailatul Barat.

This year Star Lifestyle shuns away from the orthodox and offers a fresh look at Shab-e-barat treats, an assortment of recipes collected and tweaked from varied Middle Eastern and Asian sources and the best part is that they do not require hours toiling at the stove.

Although foreign, the treats can easily be made from ingredients available at the local bazaars. The recipes mostly comprise of components which can be done ahead; that come together beautifully overnight; and can be easily multiplied to feed the masses.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


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