Qatayef, or Middle Eastern Semolina Pancakes, are a traditional Arabic pastry very popular during the fasting month of Ramadan. They are stuffed with a variety of fillings, the most common being nuts or sweet cheese. They are then deep fried then dipped into Atar Rose Water Syrup. Some are shaped into a horn by closing only one end then filling with kashta or cream and then sprinkled with pistachios.
While living in Dubai, these pancakes could only be found in the market during the month of Ramadan. I have found them here in Virginia in Middle Eastern groceries, but also only in the month of Ramadan. They’re easy enough to make at home with a yeasted pancake batter. Yeast adds to the flavor and makes the surface of the Qatayef bubbly. I’m making a separate post for the Qatayef pancake so I can show you how it’s done. Check out my post Walnut and Rose Water Qatayef to see how they’re stuffed and fried.
After proofing the yeast in warm water, all the ingredients are whisked together. It should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter. Cover and leave to rest on the counter until it becomes bubbly. If your kitchen is very warm this can take an hour, if it’s cold it can take about 2 hours.
After the batter gets nice and bubbly, heat up an electric griddle to 350 degrees F or a skillet to medium. If your griddle or skillet is non-stick you may be able to cook the Qatayef with no spray. Otherwise, or if your non-stick isn’t so non-stick anymore – use a little oil or cooking spray. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour batter onto griddle in neat 4 inch circles. I use the back of my ladle and, pressing very lightly and in a circular motion, help it spread out into a 4 inch circle. You want the pancake to be nice and thin. If it’s too thick, it’s difficult to fill.
The Qatayef pancake is only cooked on one side. When the top is covered with bubbles and is no longer shiny, and the bottom is a light golden it is finished.
Remove the Qatayef pancakes to a plate and cover with a towel while you finish the rest.
When you have finished making all the pancakes, cover them with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. The key to a perfect Qatayef semolina pancake is keeping the pancake from drying out after it’s cooked. When the pancake is filled, the edges of the pancake are pinched together to seal it shut. If the pancake is dry, it won’t stick.
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (16.5oz, 469g)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7.5oz, 213g)
- 1/2 cup fine semolina (3.5oz, 100g)
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar. Stir. Let set on counter for a few minutes until it becomes foamy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Cover with plastic and let rest on counter until bubbly. This can take 1-2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- After batter is bubbly, heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees F or a nonstick or well seasoned cast iron skillet to medium.
- Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls into neat 4 inch circles onto the griddle. Use your ladle or bottom of measuring cup to lightly make a swirling motion to help spread the batter to 4 inches. You don’t want the pancake to be too thick or it will be difficult to fill.
- The pancakes will begin to form tiny bubbles. When the surface is covered with bubbles and no longer shiny and the bottoms are a pale golden, remove the pancake from the griddle and place on a plate. Do not flip them over. You will not be cooking the other side of the pancake.
- Keep the pancakes covered with a kitchen towel while you finish cooking the rest. Stack the pancakes on the plate with a sheet of waxed paper between them.
- When you have finished and they have cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. If they dry out they will not close when you fill them.
Check out my post Middle Eastern Walnut and Rose Water Qatayef for a step by step tutorial on making these amazing pastries.