So, I may as well just come out and say it. My attempt at participating in this year’s Vegan Mofo was a complete and utter fail. I’m disappointed because I hate not being able to follow through on things – (and also because I had some really great recipe ideas lined up) but I think I need to be a little bit more realistic when it comes to blogging.
I know I did my fair share of complaining last year while I was trudging through schoolwork, exams and job applications but my God if only I had realised just how much of luxury time was then! In any case, I’m still going to keep blogging (fear not) but I will be more wary of committing myself to posting so frequently. As much as I love my job, there’s no denying it eats up a big chunk of my time during the week, and sometimes at the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen.
Moving on. It’s Eid! I’m glad to report I made it out of yesterday’s family feast unscathed, even though I did have to sit a good 3 metres away from the table to avoid the overwhelming smell of all the meat dishes. No one so much as made a comment, except to ask how my alternative meal of moussaka , hummus and mujaddara were (they were of course delicious, accompanied by a tangy rucola salad). Dare I say it, but it seems as though my extended family has finally accepted my eating habits. Either that, or they were too engrossed in their own meals to care – either way, I’ll take it!
Dessert came in the form of a truly traditional treat gone vegan – something I have been itching to make for months now.
Makes about 16-20 cookies, depending on the size of your mould(s)
1 cup soft pitted dates, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or cardamom
*(Most commercial white sugars are processed with animal bone char, which makes it not vegan. Bone char however is not certified organic. So by buying organic sugar, you can rest assured that it is vegan. Kudos to Kathy of HHL for clearing that up here !)
For the filling, mix the dates, oil, sesame seeds and cinnamon or cardamom to a paste. It may help to soak the dates beforehand in some warm water for a few minutes and then pulse in a food processor or chopper. Shape into tsmall balls the size of hazelnuts and set aside.
For the Ma’amoul, in a saucepan over medium heat bring the butter, coconut oil and soy milk to a boil.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, semolina and sugar or agave in a lare bowl. Pour the hot milk mixture into the flour mixture all at once, beating constantly with a wooden spoon until cool. Using your fingertips rub in the orange blossom water until fully incorporated.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let set for at least 3 hours (or preferably overnight).
When you’re ready to make the Ma’moul, pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350F.
Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes or so until soft. Shape the dough into walnut sized balls. Press your thumb into the balls to make cups, and fill with date filling. Shape the dough over fillings to seal and roll into a ball.
For a more traditional look, press the balls into decorated moulds and tap them out on to a work surface.
Arrange on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes or until just golden.
Let cool and then arrange on a serving plate before springling with icing sugar to serve.
It may seem like a slightly labour intensive process – but it really is much simpler than it seems. The most frustrating part for me was actually Ma’moul molds in Bahrain.
Yes, you would think a Middle Eastern country would have them readily available at each and every corner shop, but evidently not. Bahrain-dwellers, if you’re looking for these their sold at both Chtaura – a Lebanese supermarket in Manama and Ramez discount stores (although let’s face it, what isn’t sold there?)
Enjoy with a cup of strong black tea and a smile on your face for conquering a vegan version of a true Arabian classic. I know I did.
A blessed Eid Mubarak to anyone who celebrates, too!