Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike.
There are a number of varieties of assidah – traditional sweet and savoury North African delicacies with Andalusian origins – but this dessert calls for hazelnuts.
A favourite of recipe contributor Najet Hadriche is assidat zugugo, which takes in dark pine nut seeds from the Aleppo pine, an ingredient she says is difficult to find in the UAE. Here, she has substituted the pine nut seeds for hazelnuts.
“It’s unimaginable to have Ramadan without assidat el bufrewa; bufrewa is bunduq in Arabic, or hazelnut in English,” says Hadriche. “We also make this pudding to celebrate the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday and the birth of a child. It’s simple and delicious, and you can adjust the sweetness to your own taste.”
Hanan Sayed Worrell, of Table Tales, says: "I made assidat el bufrewa for the first time this Ramadan. The subtle hazelnut flavour with the muhalabiya [milk pudding] made for a light, yet satisfying suhoor snack. I substituted almond milk and added a scoop of raw cocoa and cardamom. It's a perfect pudding to adapt if you are feeling creative."
Najet Hadriche’s assidat el bufrewa – Tunisian hazelnut pudding
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients for the assidat:
- 375g whole hazelnuts
- 1,500ml whole milk
- 125g flour
- 100g sugar
Ingredients for the muhalabiya (optional):
- 500ml whole milk
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 100g sugar
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp vanilla, orange blossom or rose water (choice of flavouring)
- Pistachios, almonds and walnuts, ground to garnish
Method for the assidat:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the hazelnuts on a tray and roast until dark brown. While still warm, shake the pan and rub the hazelnuts between your palms to remove the skin.
- Place the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor and blitz into a smooth peanut butter-like paste. Pour in milk and blend until well combined. Note: You can keep the mixture overnight at this stage.
- Transfer the hazelnut mixture to a large saucepan. Place on medium heat and add the flour, stirring continuously, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Add the sugar and continue to stir. Allow to boil for two minutes and remove from heat. The consistency will be thick and creamy, but not as thick as a custard.
- While still hot, pour the pudding into individual small bowls or cups, allowing room for the muhalabiya layer, if adding.
Method for the muhalabiya:
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the milk, whipping cream, sugar and corn starch.
- Whisk well until sugar and corn starch is dissolved. Place over a medium heat and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Lower the heat and continue to whisk until thickened to a pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and add the flavouring of choice.
- Pour a layer of the muhalabiya over the hazelnut pudding, then cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, garnish the pudding with finely chopped pistachios, walnuts and almonds.
This dish has been brought to you by Najet Hadriche and curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.