Something as simple and sweet as a pastry can stir up all sorts of feelings.
Why? Because of their association with memory. When you eat a treat that is synonymous with certain memories, it takes you back to that place, no matter where in the world you are.
The taste of the food— its smell and texture —can evoke powerful memories from the past. It makes you remember home and other places close to your heart.
Ramadan is an important season for Muslims worldwide. The sunrise to sunset fasting makes for heightened devotion and introspection.
One of the best ways to mark iftar with family and friends is to savour some sweet treats like Kaak Warka and Baklava Pistachio.
These pastries are a home away from home every time you take a bite. Thanks to Layla’s Delicacies, Ramadan in the US is just as special as it could get.
The Mediterranean diet is a worldwide favourite and is one of the healthiest diets compared to other diets like Keto and the Carnivore diet. This is because the diet is balanced. It features whole grains, a bit of dairy, and plenty of fruits and white meat.
Mediterranean pastries are healthy and they have some distinct markers. One of them is the use of nuts. Nuts grow very well in the region and are an excellent source of fibre.
Another marker of Mediterranean treats is the use of fresh fruit. Tropical fruits do well because of the warm climate. These sweet pastries and sweets also are not too sugary because they are prepared using substitutes like fruit and honey.
Any cuisine originating from a certain region is influenced by several factors. They include:
- Ingredients available in the area - this includes plants, herbs, spices, flowers and any other components of dessert recipes. Some recipes are unique to certain regions because those areas had a climate suited to growing nuts and flowers that are used to prepare the dishes.
- The culture and religion of the people - especially the celebrations or ceremonies during which these desserts were eaten.
- Trade and migration in different regions. People in a region may begin eating certain types of foods or ingredients sold along certain trade routes. Also, as they migrate, they carry the recipes and culture to the places that they settle.
An example is how the Baklava pastry recipe came to Tunisia from the Assyrian empire.
These factors influenced the development of the Mediterranean treats that we discuss below. Let’s look at some of these sumptuous pastries that make you feel at home during Ramadan and all year long.
Baklava is one of the most famous of all Mediterranean treats. This layered dessert consisting of dough stretched out, layered with nuts and dipped in honey has its origins in the Assyrian Empire, about 3,000 years back.
As trade and conquests of that time expanded and empires grew closer to each other, the Greeks took to this sweet, nutty dessert. They put their twist on it, making the layered dough using crispy brik filo - phyllo means leaf in Greek- showing how thin and delicate the layers of dough were.
The Ottoman Empire rose in the 1500s and took over Greece. Baklava wasn’t left behind, it was prepared using spicy cinnamon and cardamom notes because of the trade routes that passed by the empire.
The empire stretched out to Africa and Tunisia was integrated into the Ottoman empire. Baklava became a mainstay on dessert trays during special occasions all over the Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa.`
Today, Baklava has some identifiers regardless of where in the world it’s prepared. They include:
- A sweet filling of chopped nuts, especially pistachios, almonds or walnuts.
- Several layers of filo dough above and below the nuts,
- A sweet glaze or syrup to bring it all together. The glaze can be honey or sugar syrup.
Here at Layla’s Delicacies, Baklava Pistachio is one of our most ordered treats. The chopped pistachios and almonds sit pretty between the layers of filo dough, all covered in decadent honey.
Order here and enjoy it throughout Ramadan with family and friends.
As the name suggests, these treats are somewhat shaped like human digits. These flavor-filled treats are made of a blend of almonds and pistachio nuts, wrapped in crispy filo dough.
These treats were originally from Morocco, but are very popular in Tunisia as well.
Holland also comes up often when this sweet pastry is mentioned. In Italy, this snack goes by Ditti Di Mandorle. It’s been adapted into a variety of Mediterranean pastry recipe collections.
Almond fingers aren’t the same as ladyfingers, a pastry that can be traced back to France. French settlers in America popularized ladyfingers.
The crunch of the filo dough around the almond fingers complements the almond and pistachio paste inside the pastry. It’s mostly enjoyed in the morning because its nutty taste goes well with coffee.
Enjoy these Almond Fingers during suhur - right at the break of dawn - before the holy fast begins.
Samsa is a very popular pastry in North Africa. These triangular treats don’t have a straightforward history. Etymologically, they’re very similar to samosas and have similar origins to them - in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Morrocan explorer documented an instance where he had a meal at the court of the Sultan of Dehli, Muhammud bin Tulghluq, in the 14th century. He described samushak as a pie filled with pistachios, almonds, walnuts and spices.
This is consistent with the delicious Samsa Pistachio that’s enjoyed today. There’s still a debate over where it came from. Regardless of its origin, this sweet treat is one that you deserve to enjoy.
This sweet pastry has a crispy outer layer made out of thin brik filo sheets and a moist filling made out of a mix of crunchy almonds and hazelnuts. Pistachio nuts are sprinkled on top for a delightful sensory experience.
Get yourself some Samsa to break your fast, and pair it with some mint tea or coffee.
These treats are partaken of during any special occasion. You almost always will see these pastries in every assortment of desserts in parties in Tunisia and among Muslim communities in the Mediterranean and worldwide.
Kaak Waarka is said to have Andalusian origins, although this is not recorded anywhere. That’s okay— because once these pastries melt instantly in your mouth— it won’t matter where they’re from.
Kaak Warka is traditionally made with flour, butter, water, almonds, rose water, and iced sugar. The pastry dough is baked at low heat so it retains its white color and is filled with sweet almond paste or marzipan with rose water.
These sweet donut-shaped puff pastries will bring joy to your family during this Ramadan. Buy Kaak Waarka, they make a special part of our limited edition pastry collection. They’re a hit every year, so be sure to make your order early!
Bjewia, also referred to as Bjewiya, is a unique treat that has its roots in Tunisia. It’s a mixture of almonds and pistachio nuts topped with dried rose petals. Eaten during celebrations such as weddings in Tunisia, Bjewia pistachio is a special treat to enjoy during the holy month of Ramadan.
Like most of our treats, it consists of more than 70% of nuts. Despite Bjewia being sweet, the high nut composition ensures that natural flavours reign supreme. Nuts are also an excellent source of protein and fibre.
For instance, the pistachio nuts used to make Bjewia Pistachio are packed with antioxidants and nutrients such as Vitamin B6 - which improves moods and helps to prevent anaemia. These nuts also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body.
The almonds nuts in Bjewia Pistachio are a source of fats, Vitamin E and magnesium. Fats give the body energy, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and magnesium plays a major role in many chemical reactions in the body.
Layla’s Delicacies has the perfect Bjewia Pistachio for you today, in one of many speciality gift boxes. These boxes are crafted with excellence and full of a variety of treats including Bjewia Pistachio.
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This Tunisian speciality is top tier. These square or round shaped desserts are to die for.
Mlabes are made of ground almond paste delicately wrapped in a thin meringue layer. The paste in the middle can be made of any ground nuts- hazelnuts and even mocha nuts. The meringue layer is flavoured with rose extract and perfumed with orange zest.
These treats are made using a variety of ingredients. Originally from the city of Sfax, in Tunisia, Mlabes have been in different civilizations and the recipe has been refined over generations.
They are also decorated with a silver leaf which is like a crown, an ode to their royalty.
This Ramadan, gift your family and friends with these delicious royal sweets. They’re available on a seasonal basis, so contact us here so that you don’t miss out on this nutty goodness.
Our pastry recipes are one of a kind and come in handy during Ramadan when communal meals are commonplace. Layla’s Delicacies is committed to ensuring that your guests and family are thoroughly impressed and satisfied this year.
Celebrate Ramadan in style, the Layla’s Delicacies way.
Ramadan Kareem, may Allah accept all your duas and wishes and bless your family.