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2, June 1998 Latest update 9 of July 2007, at 6.25 am
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     Restaurant Review

Zalatimo Sweets

In the year 1860, Mohammed Zalatimo opened a small pastry shop in the Old City of Jerusalem to make the pastry called Mutabak. Because the shop was so small, it offered Mutabak as a take away product and only in the morning time for breakfast in addition to a few specialty sweets that were made daily by him. Later on, Mohammed Zalatimo rented the shop next to his first one. Because of the spacious sitting area, customers were able to enjoy the Mutabak and the other sweets in the shop which included part of the ancient walls surrounding the Roman built church of the holy sepulcher. The sweets and pastry trade has been in the Zalatimo family for the past five generations, from Mohammed Zalatimo through his son Ibrahim and his grandsons, and now the family operates three other sweet shops in Jerusalem (in addition to the one in the Old City), two in Ramallah, and two in Amman. For this article This Week in Palestine interviewed Samir Zalatimo, great-grandson of Mohammed, who runs the 140 year-old shop still in its same location near the wall surrounding the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and he provided us with the recipe for Mutabak that is the specialty of the Zalatimo family. It is a simple recipe: dough, syrup, and powdered sugar. The dough is normal dough used for baking bread, but it is hand rolled not machine rolled [the secret of Zalatimo Mutabak], then cut into circles approximately the size of a pita, and a small amount of cheese* is added. The Mutabak is folded into a square and baked for several minutes until golden brown. After baking the Mutabak is cut into four squares, covered in syrup** and powdered sugar is sprinkled on top. His son Hani, who is being trained to follow in his fathers trade, said that the Mutabak should be served hot because when it cools its only a cold, sweet cheese sandwich. * The cheese is normal white curd cheese, which starts out being salty, and is soaked in water to draw out the salt. The water may have to be changed four or five times to make the cheese sweet enough. ** The Syrup is equal parts of water and sugar mixed together and boiled until it thickens.
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