Aysh El-Saraya: The Healthy Low-Fat Version
You certainly don’t want to miss such a delicious dessert with a recipe version that contains 0 Cholesterol! Fat? Just 3 g per piece. Calories? 190 only per piece. Envision that!
Do you need more convincing? I guess not. So let’s talk Aysh El-Saraya today!
My deal with Aysh El-Saraya
Growing up in Tripoli, the Capital of the North – and also the Capital of the Lebanese Sweets ! – I was also growing in my learning of my new hometown language; slowly, I admit. At first – and, well… at second and at third, since it took me time to learn it – it was like connecting to strange sounds and songs through a huge cloud. After all, I was just a child.
I would hang onto these similar words found in both the Lebanese and Spanish languages to try to guess what was going on out there.
In case I just puzzled you, here are few of these words: Alsukkar for Azucar (Sugar), AlRez for Arroz (Rice), Sebbatt for Zapato (Shoe), Elmokhaddeh for Almohada (the pillow), Alzeit for Azeite (Oil), Camiz for Camiza (Shirt), Laymoun for Limon (Lemon), and so on.
Right, you guessed well, I got to know, very early in age, about the impact of the Arab long domination of Spain, and its influence in the language. 🙂
While the name of Znoud El-Sit was an intriguing puzzle to my young mind, Aysh El-Saraya would take my imagination to a mysterious ancient palace, far up on a hill, a mysterious fat king on his throne, his eyes wide opened in delight on a plate of dessert that a lovely slim woman in veil was placing in front of him.
El-Saraya, after all, does mean The Grand Palace (Serail); a Sultanate one to be more precised. I wondered what was in that dessert to be given such a mysterious name. I asked back then. No one could give me an answer.
Today, I can share with you what I know of it.
Aysh El-Saraya: Behind the Name
Arab words can change in meanings with a simple change of one phonetic accent, or by adding or removing a phonetic letter. A tricky language, I can assure you. Sometimes, you better not say a word if you are not sure how to pronounce it. You might end up in trouble. I’ve been there. 🙂
In this case, and to be accurate, the name of this dessert is commonly written in Arabic as Ayesh El-Saraya, which translates into “lived through the Grand Serail”. Not much of a sense, isn’t it?
On the other hand, pronounced Aysh El-Saraya, the Lebanese way, it translates into “Lifestyle of the Grand Serail”, which makes more sense, and could indicate the rich succulence of this dessert.
Inspired from the Lebanese Nutritionist Monique Zaarour, this recipe cuts off significantly on the sugar.
Unlike the usual and initial versions, we use non-fat Milk to make the cream with no added sugar and no whipped cream.
White bread is replaced with Brown bread that is healthier: Less fattening, more fibers and more vitamins.
The other great news is that it is very easy to prepare and quickly made! Enjoy!
Lebanese Aysh El-Saraya Pastry: Low-Fat Zero-Cholesterol Recipe
- 6 pieces Brown American Bread (toast style) crust removed
- 1 cup Lebanese Syrup Ingredients below
For the Ashta
- 1 1/2 Powder-Milk non-fat
- 1 cup Water
- 6 tbsps Corn Flour
- 1/2 cup Rosewater
- 2 tbsps Orange-Blossom Water
- cup Pistachio Nuts
- 12 tsps Flower Jam (optional)
For the Lebanese Syrup
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tsps Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 tbsps Orange-Blossom Water or Rosewater
Making the Syrup
Boil the water with the sugar.
Stir in the lemon juice, and remove from heat.
Add the blossom water or rosewater and set aside.
Caramelizing the Bread
Lay the pieces of bread in the glass tray. (see note above)
Saturate them with the syrup, covering the layer completely. The bread must absorb all the syrup. Set aside.
Preparing the Ashta-Cream
Mix well the corn flour in the cold milk and bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring continuously.
Stir in blossom water and rose water until thickening.
Pour the Ashta cream over the caramelized bread, spreading it well into a uniformed layer of equal level.
Store in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will allow the layers to adhere together, thicken, and chill.
Moments before serving, cover the Cream with a layer of pistachios.
Cut the dessert into 12 equal pieces.
If serving for guests, a tsp of blossom jam on each piece will look great.
You now have the succulent sweet of Aysh El-Saraya to enjoy!