Mamoul – Middle Eastern Cookies
This article attempts to provide a description of the many types and varieties of Mamoul available in the Middle East. A differentiation is made between the “Mamoul” which is a rounded nut filled cookie and the “Mamoul Mad” which is a flat nut filled cookie, then a description of the varieties of each type if provided.
These Middle Eastern cookies are some of the most popular desserts in the region. They are considered very traditional desserts and they date back a few hundred years.
Mamoul, pronounced as [ma’mul], and usually written in different forms as in Maamoul and Mamul is a traditional Middle Eastern cookie filled with nuts and consumed all over the year but especially during special occasions and holidays. Because of its nutritious value due to its abundance in nuts, it is often offered to children as a replacement for the sugar coated cookies that are considered to have a much lesser nutritious value.
Mamoul and baklava usually go hand in hand, as they are both considered traditional Arabic sweets and consumed almost in the same occasions. However, while baklava is made of fine layers of pastry dough, the former is a semolina dough cookie. Even though they both belong to different categories of Arabic and Middle Eastern sweets, they are most often sold in the same stores and bakeries. Moreover, people who tend to like the taste of the former also enjoy that of the latter.
Among the two types, Mamoul and Mamoul-Mad, the former is the most well known. It is the more original and traditional version, and most people are much more used to it. Most people in Arabic countries are familiar with the former, but the latter is only popular in certain countries. It is most popular in Lebanon.
The original version is a rounded and delicate semolina cookie filled with pistachios, walnuts, or dates. The pistachios and walnuts filled versions are also garnished with powdered sugar. It is a traditional cookie that dates back hundreds of years and has become popular in many countries around the world. People are welcoming it because its nuts filling make it a healthy substitute for sugar and chocolate cookies which are deemed unhealthy by most people. This Middle Eastern cookie looks very attractive from a health point of view.
On the other hand, “Mamoul Mad”, which is Lebanese for “Flattened Cookie” consists of a pistachios, walnuts, dates, or cream filling sandwiched between layers of flattened semolina dough. Its filling is usually denser than that of the original version and thus makes it sweeter and richer. Its crust is however very delicate and tends to break easily.
In order to differentiate between the different varieties, it is customary to mold the walnuts filled cookies in the shape of a cone, while making the dates filled cookies flatter and the pistachios filled cookies more elongated.
Mamoul has a relatively short shelf life, when compared to baklava, and thus each piece is usually individually wrapped in order to preserve its freshness. This usually increases its shelf life by about few months by keeping the air away from it.