Be it Easter or Eid, holidays in the Levantine region of the Middle East are incomplete without a shortbread cookie called maamoul. Stuffed with date paste or chopped walnuts or pistachios, and dusted with powdered sugar, these buttery cookies are the perfect reward after a month of fasting during Ramadan or Lent.
Just as Easter follows Lent, in countries where many Christians give up dairy, sugar and meat during Lent, the 40-day period of penitence, Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated after Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Any house you go into during Easter or Eid has to have these luxurious cookies as a reward.
The dough is made with wheat flour or semolina (or a combination of the two), then pressed into special molds, traditionally carved in wood. And the fillings are fragrant with rosewater or orange blossom.
This year, the Palestine Foundation and Sawa will host a Maamoul Baking Day for the children of the Mawtini Choir. They will enjoy a beautiful tradition uniting both faiths -- the sweet joy of baking maamoul together.