For this guest post, we’re delighted to have Dubai recipe developer, Sukaina Rajabli, share two of her great almond recipes with us.
Almonds are used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking and snacking. Here, Sukaina has put her own spin on two traditional Middle Eastern recipes — Gahwa and Baklava — to create two new intriguing recipes. Thanks, Sukaina!
Almond and Coffee Granita
If you ever visit an Emirati home, you will be customarily greeted with dates and a drink known as ‘gahwa’ spiced with either saffron or cardamon. Gahwa is a light Middle Eastern coffee drink served in small cups from a traditional flask. Only a small amount — just enough for a sip or two — is served but the server will keep coming round to top up your drink. To alert the server that you are full, the polite way to decline is by wiggling the cup from the left to right.
Here the gahwa is transformed into a light dessert by adding the coffee to almond milk. This granita is a lovely dessert for the warmer weather you are currently enjoying in Australia. Alternatively, if you celebrate National Day, this makes a refreshing change to the traditional gahwa.
- 200 g almonds
- 1.3 litres water
- 5 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
- Soak the almonds overnight in 600 ml water.
- Drain the water and add the almonds along with 700 ml water into the blender.
- Blend for about 2-3 minutes until the nuts are blended completely fine.
- Sieve the milk through a muslin cloth. Be sure to squeeze all the milk out with your hands.
- Heat the almond milk with the brown sugar, cardamom powder and coffee powder until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a tray and freeze overnight.
- Use a fork to scrape the granita into flakes and serve immediately.
Almond Phyllo Pastries
Baklavas are the quintessential Middle Eastern desserts.
These samosa style pastries are similar to baklava in that the almonds are first toasted before being ground to a fine paste. As is customary with baklava, these pastries are also drenched in a flavoured sugar syrup.
I’ve opted to use orange blossom water here but rose water would also pair beautifully with the filling.
- 200 g blanched almonds
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- 70 g light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg white
- 6 sheets phyllo pastry
- 35 g butter, melted
- 110 g caster sugar
- 60 ml water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
- Chopped pistachio nuts to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and place the almonds on a parchment lined tray.
- Bake in the oven until the almonds starts to brown (around 10 minutes), turning once halfway.
- Allow to cool completely before placing in the blender with cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract and egg white. Blend until a thick paste forms. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary.
- Line a tray with parchment paper. Put two sheets of phyllo in front of you and slice into four strips lengthways.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling at the end closest to you. Fold the bottom left corner over the filling to form a triangle. Continue folding the triangle until you reach the end. Brush the end of the strip with melted butter and seal the triangle. Place on the tray and brush both sides liberally with butter. Repeat with the remaining strips and phyllo dough. Bake the triangles until golden brown.
- In the meantime, bring the caster sugar and water to the boil until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and add the honey and orange blossom water. Pour over the pastries and let it sit for