During Easter time in the Armenian community, there are a number of pastry recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I lived in an extended family… I lived with them, two aunts, grandparents and parents, my sister wasn’t born yet. I was only six years old, living in Aleppo (Syria). It was a tradition to make special cookies every Easter. They’re called ma’amoul and karabij. Choereg is Armenian Easter bread. They also made that. Karabij is a crushed pistachio filled cookie, and ma’amoul is a date filled cookie. Both the karabij and the ma’amoul are served with natef.
All the ladies in the house would prepare the cookies getting them ready for Easter Sunday.
In the Armenian community, family and friends would visit each other after church and during the week between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. It was tradition to serve guests these holiday pastries. My aunt was especially good at making choereg whereas my grandma did much better with Easter cookies. The ladies would purchase the ingredients to make the cookies, however they would have to take it to an outside place to make them. We didn’t have an oven at home so they had to go to an outside bakery. It was a local bakery, many of the people would come to the bakery to have things baked. Not only on Easter, there would be many different types of food being baked there at all times. There’s this Middle Eastern version of what today we call marshmallow fluff, and we would dip the Easter cookies in it. It’s called natef. It’s literally Arabic marshmallow fluff.
- Of all the pastries, which one was your favorite?
There were all so good, but I think my favorites were Karabij and Ma’amoul
- Did you ever go to anyone else’s house who made a better Karabij or Ma’amoul?
We didn’t really go to anyone else’s house we always had them over at out house?
- Were there a lot of people who came to visit?
I mean not that that many but on Easter especially we had a good amount of people come
- Why was your house the gathering place?
Most of the family was already there so it seemed easier to meet where we were.
I personally have had these Easter pastries. It’s not really that much of a pastry compared to American style desserts like sugar cookies and ice cream per say. They definitely aren’t as sweet. Of all three mentioned, my favorite is choereg, which is great for breakfast with a cup of coffee. It’s also the sweetest of the three.