Presented by Basma Al Rayyes from Egypt :
A thousand years old Egyptian recipe that consists of Egyptian dry bread (ruqaq), raisins and sugar, all delectably soaked and cooked in hot milk then broiled to golden perfection. This savory dish, which literally means “Ali’s Mother”, sadly has some unsavory history. It involves some key Islamic-Egyptian figures who left a significant mark in history at the end of the Ayyubid reign and the start of the Mamluk era.
Ezz Eldin Aybak, the first Mamluk Sultan of Egypt had two wives; Om Ali “Ali’s mother” was his first wife, and her rival Sultana Shagar Al Dorr was the second wife. The later had ruled Egypt for around 80 days after the death of her first Husband (Sultan Al Saleh Nejm Al Din Ayoub). Shagar Al Dorr was a very powerful woman, she was well known for her intelligence and wits. In Egypt, women were not allowed to rule, but were permitted to be guardians to their sons who would become kings when they came of age; therefore, she married Aybak to rule Egypt through him. After marrying Aybak, she forbade him from seeing Om Ali and his son Ali, and insisted on him divorcing her, which he did. Time passed and Aybak became more powerful and aggressive towards his wife Shagar Al Dorr, and re-wed his first wife Om Ali! Consequently, she plotted with her guards to kill him and succeeded, and ended up in dispute with Om Ali over whose son would be the successor to the Sultan. Om Ali decided to revenge her Husband’s death, but since Shagar Al Dorr was heavily guarded, it was very difficult to get rid of her. So Om Ali hatched a plot bribing Shagar Al Dorr’s handmaids to get rid of her when she goes to the “hamam” for a bath, where she was beaten to death, with wooden clogs, by her own handmaids! To celebrate her death, Om Ali made this dessert by mixing bread with milk and sugar and distributed it to every home in Egypt, and eventually her son “Al Mansour Ali” ascended the throne of Egypt.
Since that day, this recipe has spread in the Levant, Turkey and worldwide as a favored Egyptian dessert.
250 gm Egyptian bread (ruqaq), baked Puff Pastry or Filo Pastry
5 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
3 tables thick cream (fresh or canned)
– Break bread or baked pastry into chunks then spread in a deep clay bowl or any Pyrex deep dish.
– Roast the coconut until golden.
– Sprinkle over pastry along with the raisins.
– Mix milk with sugar then bring to boil.
– Pour milk over pastry and let it sit for 10 minutes to be well absorbed.
– Add thick cream on top and broil until golden.
– Serve immediately.
– If you are using Filo Pastry, cut the roll prior spreading into 1 cm rolls in thickness. Spread on a baking sheet without adding any kind of grease or oil to it. Bake in a hot oven till it dries while tossing to prevent it from burning. Remove from the oven once it turns golden. Follow the rest of steps mentioned in the recipe above.