Khameer

Mother and daughter duo, Dr Kaltham Kenaid and Fatma Saifan from Dubai's Vanilla Sukkar café, share their recipe for this traditional Arabic bread
Khameer by Vanilla Sukkar
ITP Images
Khameer by Vanilla Sukkar
April 29, 2019
By Tiffany Eslick
Preparation Time 15 minutes (plus overnight)
Cooking Time 3 minutes per bread
Serves Makes 10-12 pieces

Mother-daughter duo, Dr Kaltham Kenaid (director of research at the KHDA) and Fatma Saifan share many passions: travelling, gardening, being surrounded by nature and, most importantly, baking. Together, they run Vanilla Sukkar, a charming café on Al Wasl Road with a homely feel – Fatma’s pressed flower artwork adorns the walls, part of their personal cookbook collection is available for anyone to read and you can watch Dr Kaltham kneading dough in an open kitchen.

Dr Kaltham first started making sourdough bread as a way to escape from writing her thesis. Similarly, Fatma began making macarons while completing her degree in art. They’ve shared two recipes: khameer bread that’s a staple during suhoor or Eid breakfast celebrations and energy-boosting date balls that are a great snack between evening prayers. “We choose khameer as it tastes like Ramadan for us – although it’s eaten all year round,” says Dr Kaltham. “My mother was famous for making this simple dish with good ingredients that’s best cooked in a mekhbaz over an open wood fire. We leaven our bread with sourdough but you can use
normal yeast.”

“Ramadan is a spiritual month for prayer and connecting with oneself,” says Fatma. “It’s also time to connect with family – hence our many gatherings for futoor (breaking fast) and for suhoor (the meal before dawn), Fajr prayers and starting the fast.” Dr Kaltham adds: “We’re always together on Fridays during Ramadan and this is when we are at our most creative with cooking – it’s a good time to experiment. You have to put good energy into your baking and be in a good mood.”

PHOTO BY Aasiya Jagadeesh
RECIPE BY Vanilla Sukkar Dubai
FOOD STYLING BY Lydia Wessels

INGREDIENTS

3 cups spinneysFOOD All-Purpose Flour
¾ cup full-fat milk
A pinch of saffron strands, crushed by hand
½ tsp yeast (or 2 tbsp starter)
¾ cup water, less when using a starter
6-7 spinneysFOOD Dates, softened in the same water as above
1 pinch of spinneysFOOD Salt
1 tbsp ghee
1 egg, to brush the bread
spinneysFOOD White Sesame Seeds, for garnishing
Date molasses and ghee, to serve

METHOD

  • 1

    In a large bowl, add the flour and make a well in the centre

  • 2

    In a small saucepan, lightly heat the milk and add the saffron to it. Once the colour of the saffron has been extracted and it’s well infused, remove from the heat and set aside

  • 3

    Add the yeast, or the starter if you’re using one, to the flour. Follow this with the milk, water, dates, salt and ghee. Mix and knead the dough for 10 minutes

  • 4

    Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight

  • 5

    In the morning, cut the dough into 8-10 pieces and roll into balls. Then, roll each ball into a thick round disc

  • 6

    To bake, heat a pizza stone in an oven set to its highest temperature

  • 7

    Brush the discs with the beaten egg, top with sprinkles of sesame seeds. Place each disc on the hot stone and bake until it puffs up

  • 8

    To serve, drizzle the breads with date molasses and ghee

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