From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

‘Atayef/Qatayef bil Joz — Lebanese pancakes with walnuts and syrup


We are well into Ramadan now.  It probably won’t go down too well with some of my more intense Muslim friends, but the longer it lasts the more I think of the delicious treats I first started to make during the holy month when I was at university in Beirut.  No-one in my family had a sweet tooth, except for me and my dad.  So, it’s lucky that I had enough friends to help me get through the heart attacks in waiting that I used to make almost every day — the experimenting with ingredients being as much fun to me as the finished product. My father used to bring ready-made dough back during Ramadan to make delicacies like the ones I’m describing here.  You can put various fillings in the atayef, including cheese, cream and nuts.  By the way, it’s a characteristic of Lebanese Arabic that we drop the ‘Q’ sound at the start of words so in the rest of the Arab world, it’s called Qatayef not Atayef.  I’ve always thought that it’s part of the softer, less guttural sound of Arabic in Lebanon.  It’s probably just one more thing that makes us a little suspect to some of the other more traditional and conservative (superficially at least)  Arab countries.   In my cooking classes here in London, making atayef has always been one of the most enjoyable things to do — as people can play around with the ingredients, stuffing as much cream or as many nuts as they like inside the succulent, syrupy pancake.   The recipe here is for a filling with walnuts.  I will give recipes for other types of atayef in the next couple of days.

 DSC_0800 Ingredients 200g of plain flour 300ml of semi skimmed milk or water 1 tea spoon of yeast 1/2 tea spoon of sugar a pinch of salt 1/2 tea spoon of bicarbonate of soda This is the basis of Atayef dough for various fillings, around 30 little Atayef   Filling 200g of walnuts  2 large spoons of granulated sugar  1 tea spoon of rose water    DSC_0798Frying 2 cups of vegetable oil Syrup 200g of sugar  200ml of water  1 tea spoon of lemon juice 1 tea spoon of rose water 1 tea spoon of orange blossom water

  • DSC_0539 copyPrepare the syrup first
  • Put all the ingredients in a small pan, stir until the sugar is dissolved then place on the hob on a medium temperature
  • Stir from time to time until the syrup is no longer watery, this will take around 20 minutes
  • Leave aside to cool down
  • Whisk the flour, milk, yeast, salt and sugar together and leave aside for 2 hours
  • When ready, sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda on the runny dough and mix well
  • Use a non stick pan with a thick bottom to cook the Atayef
  • Put the pan on a medium heat
  • Once the pan is hot, reduce temperature to minimum, then take 1 large spoonful of the runny dough and pour in the hot pan to make a small circle
  • The size depends on your taste
  • Fry the Atayef on one side until golden — this will only take 1 minute or less, remove and leave to cool down. Do not fry on the other sideDSC_0838
  • Do the same with the rest of the dough but make sure you don’t pile them on top of each other, otherwise they will stick together
  • The dough will make around 30 small atayef or 2o large ones
  • To prepare the filling, wash the walnuts and put in a blender, add sugar and rose water, blend until slightly smooth
  • Fill each atayef with one spoonful of walnuts and close the 2 sides together
  • In a large pan heat the vegetable oil and fry the filled atayef until golden
  • Remove to a serving plate, then pour the syrup on top.
  • Serve hot or coldDSC_0796


  1. lara

    glad that i found this recipe , i love atayef!
    if i skip the frying part, should i add more sugar in the filling ?
    i’m so making this tonight !
    thank you


    • Hi thanks so much for getting back to us. Yep if you don’t fry it, just add more of the syrup. Do have a scout around the rest of the site if you have a moment — lots of things on it — all best mona


  2. lara

    thank you for replying so quickly ! I already did and i just love it . nice recipes and colourful photos ! 🙂 please keep posting more and more recipes . i will be coming again soon .
    ps: where are you located


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