Here are some recipes for foods you might find at an iftar dinner like the one recently held in Lancaster.
The first two, for Turkish desserts, come from Cigdem Canleblebici, of Smoketown, who provided the desserts for the iftar dinner.
MOIST SEMOLINA COOKIES)
• 125 grams butter
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup oil
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup semolina
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• Orange zest
• 5 1/2 cups flour
For the top of dough:
• 1 egg yolk
• 1/2 teaspoon cocoa.
• 3 cups sugar
• 3 cups water
• 1/2 cup orange water
• Water with 2 drops lemon juice
Combine dough ingredients, and shape them into flattened circles or ovals.
Brush the tops with a mix of the egg yolk and cocoa.
Bake the cookies at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes.
Combine syrup ingredients and pour the cold syrup over the baked cookies while they’re still warm.
The following recipe uses kadayif, a sort of shredded phyllo dough that’s used in Turkish and other Middle Eastern desserts. It can be bought in specialty stores, online and even at Walmart.
CUSTARD WITH KADAYIF
• 1 liter milk
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup cornstarch
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 200 grams of cream
• 500 grams of kadayif
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 125 grams butter
Cook the milk, sugar, cornstarch, flour and vanilla together. After you cook it, add cream later and mix it.
Roast dried kadayif, sugar, walnuts and butter until the kadayif is golden brown.
Place some roasted kadaif mixture in custard dishes, add a layer of custard and top it with the rest of the roasted kadayif.
Here’s a recipe for potato samosas that comes from The New York Times.
Both come from Murat Barin, owner of Turquoise Grill in San Antonio, Texas.
Makes about 20 small samosas
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours
For the dough:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ajwain or cumin seeds
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup cold water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, in 1-inch cubes
• 3 medium carrots, chopped, optional
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus about 3 cups more for frying
• 1 chopped onion, about 1 cup
• Salt and pepper
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
• 1 teaspoon grated garlic
• 1 teaspoon grated ginger
• 2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 cup chopped cilantro, tender stems and leaves
Make the dough: Put flour, salt and ajwain seeds in a medium bowl. Drizzle in oil and work into flour with fingers until mixture looks mealy. Add water gradually, stirring until a soft dough has formed. If dough seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water; if it seems wet, add a tablespoon of flour.
Knead for 1 minute and form into a ball. Wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
Make the filling: Simmer the potatoes and carrots in well-salted water until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Put 1 tablespoon oil in a very small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds are fragrant and beginning to pop, stir in garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric and garam masala. Let sizzle for a minute, then add skillet contents to onions.
Add reserved potatoes and carrots and stir well to coat. Check seasoning and adjust salt. Remove mixture to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
When cool, add lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Mix well, smashing the potatoes a bit in the process.
Make the samosas. Portion the dough into 20 pieces, each weighing 1 1/2 ounces. Form each piece into a ball and place on a large plate. Cover with a damp napkin.
Roll each dough ball into a thin disc about 6 inches in diameter, as if rolling out pie dough. Cut each disc exactly in half, leaving 2 pieces with a straight side and a round side.
Form each half-disc into a cone by folding it over and pinching the straight sides together. Put 3 tablespoons filling in the opening on the round side, then pinch closed to make a stuffed triangle. Form the rest of dough balls into samosas.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in the bottom of wok over medium-high heat. Adjust heat to maintain the oil at 350 degrees.
Slip samosas 4 at a time into the hot oil and let fry on one side until golden, a minute or so, then flip and cook other side. Lift from oil and drain on paper towels.
Serve samosas hot or at room temperature, accompanied by your favorite chutney.
SUTLAC (TURKISH RICE PUDDING)
Makes 4-6 servings
• 1/2 cup rice (short or long grain), rinsed and drained
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups whole milk
• 8-10 tablespoons sugar
• 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 egg yolk, whisked
• Sliced strawberries, for garnish
Place drained rice and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When water begins to simmer, cover and turn heat to medium-low.
Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Simmer until rice is tender (a small amount of water will still remain).
Add the milk and sugar while constantly stirring. Add cornstarch mixture and continue to stir constantly until pudding begins to simmer.
Once the cornstarch mixture is added, continue cooking long enough to dissipate the taste of raw cornstarch.
Add the vanilla extract, reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix approximately 1/2 cup of the rice pudding with the whisked egg yolk and set aside.
Divide remaining rice pudding among 4 large or 6 medium ovenproof individual serving dishes. Top each serving with some of the egg yolk/rice mixture.
Place the serving dishes on a cookie sheet and place under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from broiler and allow to cool.
Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
Garnish with strawberries.
A roomful of people are sitting at round tables and talking as the 8 p.m. hour passes, a single date on a plate in front of each of them, next…