Category Archives: Sweet

Purple Grape Crisp

Do you try to use local, seasonal fruits and vegetables in your cooking?  We do. Here in Egypt it’s not hard because it seems like there are always fresh fruit and vegetable vendors trying to sell their products on every corner.

Last week, on our way home from work, we walked by one such vendor who had sold most of his goods except for a box of plump, juicy purple grapes.  Now, I was tempted by them, but Mary stepped up first.  We wanted about one kilo, but it was the end of the day and the guy had 4 he wanted to get rid of.  Yes, FOUR!  We had just seen how expensive the grapes were in the supermarket (and not bought any!), so when he offered to go almost half the price if we bought them all, Mary couldn’t say no.  I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how we were going to finish 4 kilos of grapes before they went bad….and then came the idea for this recipe.

First it was a pie. Then, since we are both trying to control our calories, it morphed into a crisp.  I took the pie mix from one recipe, the crisp mix from another and modified both so they would be low fat and vegan.  And there you have it – a delicious, nutritious new creation!  And these purple grapes have the added bonus of being full of antioxidants that can help circulation and prevent heart disease!

Serves 12
½ cup packed, fine, light brown sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 cups grapes, halvedTopping:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup packed, fine, light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon saltInstructions:
1.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (350 degrees F or 180 degrees C)
2.  Wash and chop the grapes in half.  I only halved the larger ones.  I left the small ones in tact.
Make the filling:
3.  In a large mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.

4.  When well-mixed, add the grapes and toss them until they are completed covered. Let them sit aside for about 10 minutes.
Prepare the topping:
5.  Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and let them toast in the oven for about 10 minutes.

6.  Once the walnuts are cooled, chop them.
7.  Mix the oats, walnuts, flour, oil, applesauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  It should be crumbly.
Make the crisp:
8.  Put the filling in a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) pan.
9.  Cover with the topping.  Spread it as evenly as you can.  I used the back of a spoon.

10.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
11.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Serving Suggestions:
*It goes well with non-dairy ice cream!!!
*Use pecans instead of walnuts.
*Use another kind of fruit…???Nutritional Information: (1 of 12 squares)
282 calories; 12 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 5 g protein
What’s your favorite way to eat grapes?
Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #10: Apricot Pudding (Qamar Al-Din)

Hi everybody!  Are you hot?!  It’s 40 degrees Celsius!!!  (That’s 104 for you Fahrenheit folks!).  Want something cool, creamy and sweet?!  Try this!  A traditional Egyptian dessert, this has been one of my favorites since I first step foot in Egypt.  Our version is low on sugar (we didn’t add any at all!!) but still has all the natural sweetness of the dried apricot!

¼ kilo pressed apricot sheets (1/2 of the package; 250 grams)

1 and ½ cups of water¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water

shredded coconut for serving

1.  Open up the sheets of dried apricot and separate about half of the package.

2.  Cut the 250 grams of dried apricot into small pieces and put in a saucepan.

3.  Cover the pieces of apricot with about 1 and ½ cups of water.  Make sure all the pieces are covered with water.
4.  Boil for about 10 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

6.  Once cooled, press the mixture through a sieve with narrow holes.

After straining

7.   In a separate bowl, mix the ¼ cup of cornstarch with ¼ cup water until all the cornstarch is dissolved.
8.  Stir the cornstarch mix into the apricot mixture.

9.  Heat this mixture in a saucepan until boiling.  Boil for a few minutes until thick.
10.  Spoon into small dishes. Garnish with shredded coconut.  Refrigerate until sets.

Serving Suggestions:
*Add chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, or any you like!) to the coconut topping.
*Add chopped dried apricots and raisins to the apricot and cornstarch mix.
*These sheets can also be used to make a cold, refreshing drink commonly consumed during Ramadan.

Nutritional Information:
1 of 2 servings:
135 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein

Have you ever had Qamar Al-Din before (as a pudding or drink)?  Which way do you like it most? What other ways do you like to eat apricots?

Alf Hana!!!

Vegan Donuts with Icing

Yes, DONUTS!  If you’re looking for a fun breakfast that’s not high in fat, try these baked goodies.  They’re best fresh, so be sure to share with your friends!

Makes about 23 miniature donuts


1 cup soymilk (or other-non dairy milk)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda


1. Preheat 350 F / 180 C / gas mark 4
2. Whisk non-dairy milk, lemon juice, maple syrup, sugar and vanilla. They should become foamy and bubbly.

3. Add the remaining ingredients. Whisk.
4. Pour wet into dry. Do not over stir.

5. Lightly grease your donut pan.  Using a small spoon, put enough batter in each circle to fill it about half way.  If you fill more than half way, your donut may rise above the center.
6. Bake about 15 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, make the icing.  We use the same recipe we used for our Creamy Jumble Drops.
8. Once donuts are finished cooking, let them rest in the pan for about 5 minutes.  They should be easy to remove then. Once removed, dip them into the warm icing and cool on wire racks.

This recipe is based on a recipe by the Happy Herbivore, Baked Chocolate-Glazed Vegan Donuts

Nutritional Information (for 1 of 23 miniature donuts):

Calories: 85; Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 14 g; Fiber: 0 g; Protein: 1 g

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #3: Egyptian Shortbread Cookies (Ghoreiyba)

I love cookies.  I can’t get enough of them.  Chocolate, chewy, crunchy, decorated, soft, with chips, with nuts, with fruits, ….oh, the varieties!

These little cookies are an Egyptian treasure.  They just melt in your mouth. Usually made around feast times, they’re kind of hard to find any other time of year.  And, of course, you rarely ever find a plant-based version that is cholesterol free!!!!  But, ours are!!!

This recipe is adapted from Sweets of Arabia by Osama El Sayed.


1 cup non-dairy butter
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

1.  Preheat oven to 170 C or 350 F or gas mark 5.
2.  In bowl of food processor, cream butter with powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed.
3.  Mix flour with baking soda and beat into butter mixture on low speed.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before mixing

After mixing

4.  Shape dough into balls and place on a baking sheet.  This may take some time.  Try to make the balls as smooth as possible.  If topping with nuts, lightly press thumb into center of each ball and top with one whole nut.

Rolled in balls

5.  Bake for 15 minutes, until firm but not brown.
6.  Let cool and then indulge!

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • top with chopped or whole nuts
  • sprinkle with cocoa
  • sprinkle with cinnamon
  • drizzle melted chocolate in thin lines across the cookie

Nutrition information (for 1 cookie):

Calories: 56, Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 7g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 1g

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #1 Breakfast Wheat (Bileela)

During the month of November, Alf Hana participated in Vegan MoFo.  We spent a month veganizing your favorite Egyptian recipes.  It was a lot of fun, so much so that we decided to set up a regular post for Fridays called “Pharaoh’s Friday”, where we would continue to post veganized versions of popular Egyptian foods.  It’s taken us a while to get started, but here is our first installment of Pharaoh’s Friday!!!!

Who doesn’t love to have something warm for breakfast during the winter months?  One of my favorites is oatmeal!  However, oatmeal is not well-known in Egypt (although it is relatively easy to find!).  If Egyptians are not having foul for  a warm breakfast, then it will be billeela.

Bileela is basically slow-cooked whole wheat.  You can find the whole wheat in packages readily available in stores.  Here’s what it looks like up close:

One of the benefits of eating bileela is that it is a whole food and is full of nutrition!!  In fact, here is an image from Wikipedia that helps explain the insides of the whole wheat grain.

Now, I have finally bought a demassa (the Egyptian version of a slow cooker)!!!! I LOVE IT!!!  Check it out!  Isn’t it cute?

Yes, we have made foul and lentils with our demassa and we also used it to make our bileela!  Here’s the recipe:


1 cup dried whole wheat grain
4 cups water


1.  Plug in the hot plate of the demassa (with the Egyptian demassa, the hot plate is separate from the silver pot and needs to be heated up first).
2.  Add the wheat and the water to the silver pot.  Put the pot on a regular stove eye.  Heat on medium heat until boiling.
3.  Once the mix is boiling, transfer the pot onto the hot plate.  Leave to cook for about 90 minutes.  Stir every half hour or fifteen minutes or so, just to be sure the bileela doesn’t start to stick to the bottom of the silver pot.

Before adding milk or spices


2/3 cup of whole wheat, 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar: just the way we like it!


Serving Suggestions and Variations:
Add water or non-dairy milk.
Add sugar.
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or other spices.
Add raisins, dried dates, or other dried fruits you like.
If you don’t have a demassa or a slow cooker, you could probably do the same in a regular pot with a lid.

Alf Hana!!!

More Holiday Goodies: Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

I love making cookies around the holidays.  In fact, I am considering making MORE batches before January 7 – Eastern Orthodox Christmas!  (I must confess I finished off the Creamy Jumble Drops today and am really wishing I had MORE!!!!)

This cookie is one of my very favorites of all time.  It’s good for the holidays or for any time!!!  It is the perfect texture, with just enough chocolate and a hint of mint.

Makes 42 cookies

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
⅞ cup of oil (try using canola)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon mint flavoring
4 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons of water
2 cups of non-dairy dark chocolate chunks or chips

1.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

2.  Beat oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and mint in large mixer bowl using a whisk.

3.  Add the cornstarch and beat with the whisk some more.

4.  Gradually stir in the flour mixture.

5.  Stir in chocolate chips.

6.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

7.  Bake in preheated 375 degree F oven  (190 degrees C, or gas mark 5) for 9 -11 minutes or until firm.
8.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes.

9.  Remove and cool completely on wire racks.

Nutrition information (for one cookie):
Calories: 135; Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 1 g

Alf Hana!!!

Another holiday treat: Vegan Creamy Jumble Drops (A.K.A. Jubilee Jumbles)

I bet you thought all the holiday cooking and baking was over, right? WRONG!  We keep celebrating until Orthodox Christmas on January 7, so lucky for you, you get some more holiday cookie recipes!!!

This one is the ultimate Christmas cookie for me.  It was a tradition with my grandmother and my mother.  And now, thanks to vegan substitutions, it is a tradition for us too!  Originally from Betty Crocker Good and Easy Cookbook, these little bits of heaven bring back oh, so many memories of past holidays around the table sprinkling colors here and there.  I hope you have as much fun making (and eating!) these as I do!!!

Makes 4 dozen

For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup soft vegetable shortening

I found this in a supermarket, but you could probably substitute samna nabety...

1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water
1 cup non-dairy milk + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed
1 tsp vanilla
2  and 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 – 6 oz package non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate morsels (170 g)

For the icing:
2 tablespoons non-dairy butter
3 cups powdered (confectioners’ sugar), sifted
1/4 cup non-dairy milk plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees F or gas mark 5).
2.  Mix  shortening, sugars and cornstarch and water thoroughly.
3.  Stir in milk and vanilla and mix.

4.  Sift flour, soda and salt together and stir into mix.
5.  Blend remaining ingredients.

6.  Drop with tablespoon 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake until a light touch with a finger leaves no imprint..about 10 minutes.

7.  Ice using the Burnt Butter Glaze while still warm.

Instructions for the Burnt Butter Glaze:
1.  Heat 2 tablespoons non-dairy butter until golden brown.
2.  Beat in, until smooth, 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 cup non-dairy milk + 2 teaspoons cornstarch.

3.  You may need to heat this up between batches.
4.  Sprinkle with your choice of colorful topping.

Nutrition Information for one cookie:
Calories: 123, Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 15 g, Fiber: 0 g; Protein: 1 g

Alf Hana!!!