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Pastries

For the dessert or little breaks, there is a wide choice of Middle Eastern pastries.

The knafeh is a dessert specialty of the Levant, especially in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Syria and northern Egypt. It consists of specialty dough known as filo or phylo that dries into a vermicelli-looking pastry that eventually wraps over soft white cheese like Nabulsi cheese or variants of the mozzarella family. A topping of heavy syrup lightened by rosewater, orkatr in Arabic, and crushed nuts results in one of the most delightful (and seriously filling) delicacies in the Middle East. On July 18, 2009, in Nablus, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city in the West Bank, cooks and helpers under the direction of Muhanned al-Rabbe, a Palestinian pastry baker, produced a 74 meters long, 1.05 meters wide knafeh that weighed close to 1,750 kg. The dish set the world record for the largest knafeh.

Ma’amouls are small shortbread pastries filled with pistachios, walnuts and dates. They are popular around the Middle East where they are available year around although they are mostly consumed during different religious holidays. For example, in Lebanon the Christians consume them at Easter and the Muslims during Ramadan.

Barazeks are buttery, shortbread-like cookies covered with toasted sesame seeds on one side and studded with chopped pistachios on the other side.