A Food & Travel Blog

Pistachio and Date Syrup Ma’amoul

27/08/2013 | By

The sun is shining on my hill today – at last. Living on top of a hill is great, really. We get amazing views, loads of light, enough sun to power a small community, advance warning of undesirable relatives and the most astonishing sunsets,but it does have some drawbacks. In the winter time we are, for the most part, exposed.  We have a straggly hedge arrangement at the back of our house that will never win any lovely awards and which is the only thing that stands between us and the weather that comes in from the west, but in the teeth of a winter gale it might just as well not be there at all.

I’ve just read a report on a news site saying that we may just have had our warmest winter ever, but whoever wrote that wasn’t anywhere near my house We have had days at a time of single digit temperatures that dipped to below freezing once the sun vanished and long, long, stormy nights with the wind roaring all around the house, rattling the windows and sliding briskly in under the doors.

We have no heating other than a big slow-combustion fire in the family room and my dear Stanley in the kitchen, both of whom do a splendid job. I love the cosiness of a fire and can’t wait to light  the first fires of the season, but they are quite labour-intensive to maintain and leave a constant reminder of their presence in the form of a fine film of ash over the entire house and a slight odour of stale wood-smoke that I adore at the beginning of the cooler weather, but tire of at about this time of the year.

And the washing, oh the washing. We’ve, thankfully, had a very wet season but even when it’s not raining it is far to cold and damp to hang washing outside for months at a time. I am blessed with a tumble dryer and cursed with a very active conscience so only use it for the sheets and towels, leaving me with the challenge of naturally drying all of the other items.  They hang from every possible vantage point in the family room and the kitchen and are draped on clothes airers, chairs, tables, seldom-used gym equipment, oven handles and door knobs – frequently taking days to dry and often leaving me red-faced when unexpected visitors drop by.

But today it is mild and sunny. The washing is bouncing around on the clothes line, fresh air floods into the house through all of the open doors and windows and even the teenagers are outside airing themselves – all in all, a very happy state of affairs.

Ma'amoul 1

As the days become longer and warmer I will begin to shed layers of winter clothing and the sins of my immediate past will become all too evident. We all know how popular comfort food is in the colder months and if there’s one thing I’m extra good at it’s comforting myself, particularly by baking. I’ve got quite few regular sources of comfort, but also like to try new ways to slip into the zone and was happy to hunt down some different ideas for the left-over pistachios from my delicious Pistachio Orange Blossom cake. My hunt coincided with Ramadan which inspired my version of a popular cookie taken in the evenings during this time. They are a versatile little treat and can be made with dates, walnuts, almonds and figs – just use this as a guide and go with whatever you have handy. You can substitute the rice flour for more plain flour, but I like the slightly gritty texture the rice flours adds.

Pistachio Ma'amoul

Pistachio and Honey Ma'amoul

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Cookies
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com


  • 290 gms plain flour
  • 60 gms rice flour
  • 165 gms butter
  • 75 mls cold water
  • 75 gms caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 160 gms pistachios roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp date syrup
  • 1 Tbsp rose water
  • Extra whole pistachios for decoration


  • Preheat oven to 220C (425F).
  • Place flours and butter in a food processor and whizz until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Combine water, sugar and yeast in a separate bowl. Add the flour/butter mixture and combine with your hands. The dough will be quite loose, but that's okay, it will firm up.
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Combine the nuts, date syrup and rosewater in a small bowl. Mix well.
  • Divide the dough into four, dust benchtop with a little flour and roll each quarter piece of dough into a cylinder about 2-3cm in diameter.
  • Slice the dough into discs, drop a small amount of the sticky, nut filling into the centre of each disc and pull up the sides to form a ball, then flatten each one slightly.
  • Decorate with a whole pistachio nut.
  • Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes, removing when golden in colour.


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  1. Lizzy (Good Things)

    Gorgeous post, Amanda… if you ever want to swap views for a while, I’m in! Great recipe too. Pistachios are a favourite.

  2. Catherine @ farmhousehome

    I have the same thing going on Amanda in Winter at our house, washing is draped over the hydronic heating panels and quickly whipped away if someone visits. Interesting biscuits, I’ve never heard of date syrup before. We have a fantastic middle eastern store near us, I must check it out there.

  3. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    I’ve been wanting to make these for years. I saw them on a blog and fell in love but that’s as far as it’s gotten.

    We have a view but it’s down the canal and all we see are boats. I miss living on a hill with a view all over the city. Never happy with what I have, obviously.

    I don’t use the dryer much either but I’ll admit I couldn’t believe how many people in Australia didn’t own one until I realised clothes dry outside in no time at all because it’s so dry.

  4. Kate

    I loved the description of your own local winter. I do not own a dryer on moral grounds and swear by my clothes line but do have a labour intensive ‘draping’ system over the heating vents when it gets too inclement to put washing out.

  5. Judy

    Interesting little morsels Amanda. Love the photos from your place and I too was surprised this has been the warmest winter but there’s a big difference between the hills area temperatures and Kent Town where the stats are taken. I’m another who has clothes airers containing my washing in the house during winter as I refuse to use my tumble drier unless absolutely necessary. Luckily I have a room that visitors don’t get to see but even if they did, it wouldn’t worry me. Most people do it so I don’t think there are any surprises there.

  6. Hotly Spiced

    I think it’s refreshing and relaxing to live somewhere with a view. I do try not to use my dryer but like you say, if we have days of rain, it’s hard not to be tempted to switch it on. I have not made this Middle Eastern treats but I should because I love all those ingredients xx

  7. InTolerant Chef

    This sure sounds like my winter too Amanda, I can hardly wait for warmer weather! I hate dryers and usually let the damp washing hang forlornly until I’m desperate enough to stick work or uniform shirts in only. I think your bikkies would certainly cheer me up, and the filling sounds awesome- yummo!

  8. Katja of Skimbaco

    These look amazing… but date syrup – I’m sure I can’t find that in Sweden.

    And I truly admire your clothes drying, I have gone beyond that point years ago, I think it was the 3 kids in 3 years and my days limited to 24 hours.

    As always – I love seeing your pictures and your words are like you are speaking them directly to me, miss you!

  9. Lisa the Gourmet Wog

    Your maamouls look super tasty!!
    I’ve never owned a clothes dryer, we are so lucky to have gorgeous days. Our hills hoist does the job ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    These look really good! I like biscuits with a little surprise in them-so nicely unexpected ๐Ÿ™‚