Middle Eastern Sweets and Desserts: 7 Essential Ingredients


Middle Eastern sweets and desserts are believed to be one of the oldest desserts in the world and they date back to 3000 years ago. There is something so unique and essential in the aroma and flavors of these sweets and pastries that makes them taste like no other. Here are some of the most essential ingredients that play a key role in boosting the flavor in these sweets.


  • Rose water/Orange Blossom water: One of the most famous ingredients in the Middle Eastern cuisine are rose water and orange blossom water. These two can turn any dish, dessert, and even drink into an exquisite experience by giving them a floral taste. They are packed with flavor and even a few drops sometimes can play a significant role in dishes and desserts.
    You can find both of them in maamouls, sahlab and Aish Al Saraya. They are also added to sugar syrups that are added to certain desserts.

  • Nuts: Different types of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and cashews, are a favorite filling and garnish for Middle Eastern sweets. They’re not only loved for their flavor, but also for their health benefits. You can find nuts in baklavas, maamouls and katayifs.

  • Semolina: Semolina comes from durum wheat and is a type of coarse flour that has a pale yellow color. One of the most famous desserts in the Middle Eastern cuisine are made with semolina like Nammoura, Kunafa bil Jebneh, and Layali Lubnan (Lebanese semolina pudding).
  • Dates: These sticky, sweet, and iconic ingredient is not only a key ingredient in some desserts, but also eaten daily by many across the Middle East for their amazing taste and health benefits. They are very famous during Ramadan season to be eaten on their own, or in some desserts like maamoul, and pastries like maarouk sweet bread.
  • Mahlepi: With its unique and strong flavor, Mahlepi is very commonly used in the Middle Eastern cuisine. Its spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, and therefore used a lot to add flavors to pastries and baked goods. Mahlepi is used Brioche buns (Choreg) and Middle Eastern Easter cookies.


 While there are so many other key ingredients like tahini, saffron, cardamom, and more, however, these 5 ingredients are definitely the most commonly used.


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