From Levant to Cairo

"kunafa and Qatayef" .. The unknown secret of Ramadan

Egyptians hustle to the shops of kunafa and Qatayef as soon as the first days of the month of Ramadan begin. Those desserts that are of the most important rituals and customs associated with this holy month. They became an integral part of it, and despite the succession of generations in Egypt through ages, but so far we do not know the secret behind their association with Ramadan.


In the past, Kunafa was known as "The ornament of the tables of kings and princes". One of the historical novels confirms that one of the makers of sweets in Levant invented it specifically for "Muawiyah Ben Abi Sufyan" ,when he was a governor of Levant ,after complaining to his doctor about being hungry in the day of Ramadan, what made the doctor recommend it to prevent his hunger, its name was then associated with his name, and it was called "Muawiyah's Kunafah ".

Some other novels confirm that the Egyptians knew Kunafa before Levant, and that it first appeared in the Fatimid era, especially when the Caliph "Al-Mu'izz Ledin Allah Al-Fatimi" entered Cairo in the holy month of Ramadan, when the people went out after fast breaking to greet him and give him gifts that included Kunafah which was then transmitted to levant by merchants and then became a Ramadan ritual through different historical ages.

As for Qatayef, no documented historical references indicating its origin and its association to Ramadan have yet been identified. Even the historical novels talking about its date of appearance contradicted each other. Some confirm its appearance in the Fatimid era, others say that it appeared in the Mamluk, Umayyad, and early Abbasid eras. Moreover, even the name "Qatayef" did not indicate its meaning or even the reason behind its name,although some believe that the reason for naming this name is due to the fact that it feels like velvet.