Maamoul is a Middle Eastern semolina cookie that is traditionally filled with: dates, walnuts or pistachio. It’s also a ‘celebration’ treat because it’s traditionally made, and served, at religious holidays namely: Eid el Fitr (marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan), Eid Al Adha, Easter and Christmas.
Maamoul, a melt-in-your-mouth buttery concoction, is one of those baked goods with a myriad of renditions and ways to make it. There is no ONE recipe. My mother’s recipe is different than my friend’s recipe, and slightly different than my aunt’s way of making it. Maamoul made by a Palestinian may vary from the way it would be made in say; Syria or Egypt, etc. Most maamoul is made with finely ground semolina and butter, but then there are many people who prefer to make it with a semolina/flour mix, and instead of butter, use ghee (clarified butter). If that wasn’t confusing enough, the crucial dough has to be ‘felt’ to understand if it’s too dry and in need of more water, or rose water, to moisten it. Was the day you made maamoul too humid? Oops, pivot again!! So, the structured recipe you’re so proud to have becomes null and void and can basically be thrown out of the window!! I think you get the drift, and don’t get me started with the fillings!
The common thread to all maamoul is its’ association with something joyful. It’s commonly done with several family members pitching in (it’s prep-heavy) and taking on a ‘specialized’ task or simply being there for moral support and good chatter. At the end of the day, you like what you like, and you probably favor the maamoul you grew up eating at your house and community. I personally have experimented with many maamoul recipes but the one I love the most is the one that my mother makes. Being in a different country now, and away from my mother, is not easy, but I will forever have beautiful images in my head of sitting in my parent’s kitchen helping my mother make her perfect maamoul prepared with the famous ‘nifs’ or heart.