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Ataiyef are a traditional treat for the Jews of Aleppo during Hanukkah, usually eaten during an afternoon break with tea or coffee and on special occasions, such as weddings. Besides Hanukkah, they are also served at engagement parties and at Shavuot, a harvest holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah. For this recipe, chill the syrup (Shira) before using so that the hot pancakes stay crisp. Recipe adapted from Aromas of Aleppo. Cooking time is approximate.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- oil, for frying (approximately a cup)
- 1⁄2 cup pistachios, shelled and finely chopped (or coarsely ground in a food processor)
Shira (Aleppan dessert syrup)
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon orange blossom water or 1⁄2 teaspoon rose water
- Make the syrup: Combine the sugar, lemon juice, orange blossom or rose water and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 15 minutes, or until the syrup slides slowly down the back of a spoon.
- Allow the syrup to cool, then refrigerate in a glass jar until cold.
- If it is too thick when you need it, add water and simmer again.
- If it is too thin, heat it for a longer period of time.
- The syrup will keep, chilled, for up to 2 months. You'll need one cup for the ataiyef.
- Preheat a griddle over medium heat.
- Lightly wipe the pan with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
- While the griddle is preheating, sift the flour, baking soda, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the egg and about 2 cups water to the mixture (more or less depending on how you like your batter).
- Stir the mixture until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps.
- Make the pancakes by pouring the batter, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto the griddle.
- Shape the batter into 3-inch-wide pancakes, similar to thin crêpes.
- Cook on one side only, removing the pancake when bubbles just start to form.
- Keep the cooked pancakes moist by covering them with another plate. (Grease the pan as needed.).
- Place 1 teaspoon ricotta in the uncooked center of each pancake.
- Fold the pancake in half and pinch the sides firmly closed.
- Fill the pancakes as quickly as possible so they do not dry out. (At this point, the pancakes may be frozen for later use.).
- Preheat the the oil to 350F in a large saucepan.
- Deep-fry the filled pancakes in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once so both sides brown (replenish oil as needed).
- Coat one side of the fried pancakes with the cold shira or both if you like it really sweet.
- Dip the point of each pancake in the pistachios and arrange on a plate without overlapping.
- Note: For a nondairy version to eat with a fleischig meal, combine 2 cups finely chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; substitute for the ricotta.