Beautiful Ma’amouls

by Sarah on November 25, 2009

Last week Miriam Kresh from Israeli Kitchen introduced me to the most fantastic antique store in Jaffa.

If you ever want to go on an African Safari, here is where you can buy your luggage for that colonial era look.

If you want to open new doors in your life, here is where you can buy the keys to any lock.

Every surface of the store is layered in inanimate objects with their rich histories covered in the dust of time. The room is dark except for the jeweled eyes of the merchant, who, when probed has his own stories to tell.

This is a store with endless possibilities and indeed, sitting in the corner of an ancient table sat a wooden ma’amoul mold, an item which I have not seen sold anywhere else, even after searching for two years.

Intricate designs are carved into the mold, called taabeh or tabe’ which is impressed on to the tops of the pastries to create beautiful pieces of edible art. These Middle Eastern cookies are usually stuffed with dates, walnuts or pistachios and are equally popular with Muslims, Christians and Jews, especially during special holidays. For Jews it is often eaten during the festival of Purim, for Muslims during Ramadan evenings and Christians are fond of them during Easter.

The recipe I used is from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food which uses only white flour although semolina flour is often used as well, both by the Jews and Muslim. Until I am given permission to copy hers, here is a similar recipe. The ma’amouls, or menena as they are  known amoung Jews are not supposed to brown and are taken out of the oven while still light.  My husband told me they tasted exactly like he remembered his Egyptian grandmother used to make which is not surprising as she shares the same culinary heritage with Claudia Roden.

Ma'amoul tweezers for decorating pastries

After buying the mold I knew that I could finally give back a mold I swiped at a friend’s house.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Nanette November 25, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I’ve been on the hunt for wooden moulds for some time now, but to date have been unsuccessful!

Your a *very* lucky girl!

If you ever come across another pair can you please grab them for me?!

Reply

Sarah November 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Nanette, I will keep my eyes open, but I think it is also possible to order them from here http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/pDetail.asp?i=15&p=568, altlhough I love my old and worn one

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Yael November 26, 2009 at 12:16 am

They look beautiful. too bad i can’t stand any pastry with dates. Could you invent chocolate filled ones?

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Yaelian November 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I love ma’amouls! I have one of those wooden moulds as well, and I also have a plastic one, both of which I found in one of the shuks in the arab villages while living in the north. I had all but forgotten about them until I read your posting…..

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Blanche November 27, 2009 at 6:16 am

How cool is that?! What a great find! I learn something new here everyday. Love reading your blog. Very interesting and well written. :)

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Shaya November 30, 2009 at 6:02 am

What a great find. These cookies are beautiful, I have never seen them before.

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Isaacd1 November 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

Sorry for the delay, but my mouth was full of your wonderful maamouls. I’ll exchange some for some of my beers any day!

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Lindsay December 5, 2009 at 10:06 am

I was in Nazareth today and they have wooden molds in the market

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Sarah December 5, 2009 at 10:10 am

thank you, my ma’amoul mold scout. I will make a trip to Nazareth soon!

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Leslie February 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Ooh those look fantastic and I envy your wonderful adventures :)

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Marcia Hatt November 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

i have 3? of the ma’amoul molds. i had them for years before i knew what they actually are. mine are very old and made from dark wood. i have a large flat round one and two ovalish scoop ones. beautiful patterns. http://yfrog.com/j2maamoulmoldsj not really sure about the flat one. does anyone know?

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Sarah November 19, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Marcia, The large flat one is for making a special king of yeast bread. I bought one in Akko and have yet to use it. They told me they add turmeric to add a yellow color but I myself am still looking for a proper recipe.

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