Jerusalem barazeq, a sweet popular during Ramadan


Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images

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al-Barazeq al-Maqdisi, a Ramadan Treat

During Ramadan, Jerusalemites wouldn’t think of going home after the afternoon prayer or even after the tarawih prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque without carrying a bag of Jerusalem barazeq. This wonderful savory treat has become one of the most important landmarks of Palestinian East Jerusalem, on a par with ka‘ek sesame bread, the ancient city wall, and the Old City itself.

The fragile and crunchy savory covered with toasted sesame is baked in an old firewood oven in the Old City and carries the fragrance of the oven. It requires extraordinary skill to handle the precise specifications required to make barazeq, and the uniqueness of this delicacy and its association with Ramadan and the Old City of Jerusalem carries with it the blessing of the holy month. Few people walk out of the Old City without buying barazeq, because they know that people at home are waiting for it.

So what is barazeq, anyway?

Dr. Ali Qleibo, a sociologist who has written several books on Jerusalem and its social history, is clearly a fan of barazeq (and other Ramadan treats) and waxes poetic when asked about it: “A harmonious set of smells and tastes comes to mind in Ramadan, including qatayef and barazeq.”1 Days before the month of Ramadan begins, kiosks for making qatayef pop up; on store shelves, displays of walnut boxes and sweet cheese items tempt shoppers. At that time, barazeq replaces Jerusalem ka‘ek in Jerusalem ovens. (Ka‘ek is available to Jerusalemites all year around; not so, barazeq.)

Al-Razem bakery in the Old City’s al-Sa‘diyya neighborhood is the most prominent bakery that specializes in barazeq, and its firewood gives the delicacy a special flavor and taste. The bakery has been in the family for generations. (It is also known for its ka‘ek.)

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Barazeq, a Ramadan sweet popular in Jerusalem, is made in steps.

The process of making the popular sesame-covered crisp called barazeq entails several steps, as shown here in a baker in Jerusalem’s Old City on March 23, 2024.


Mostafa al-Kharouf/Anadolou via Getty Images

Stacks of barazeq on a mobile cart are hot sellers in Jerusalem’s Old City during Ramadan.

Barazeq stacked for sale on a mobile cart in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 2024


Khalil Assali for Jerusalem Story

According to Jawad al-Razem, one of the workers in the oven, making barazeq begins at dawn with the kneading of the dough. Then it is cut into small balls and left to rest. Each ball is then rolled out and flattened to a very thin sheet. The third stage is all-important: when the dough is rolled out to just the right thinness, it is patted with water and sugar, covered with sesame seeds, and baked in a wood oven.

A baker in the Old City preparing barazeq, traditionally eaten during Ramadan

Nasser Abu Sneineh from a bakery in Bab Hutta in the Old City preparing barazeq


Muath al-Khatib for Jerusalem Story

Although al-Razem’s bakery charges the most for barazeq in the city, Palestinian Jerusalemites are willing to pay a little extra for the quality it offers.

Some Palestinians, like Youssef Asaad, 45, who lives outside the Old City in the Shu‘fat neighborhood, buy a large amount of barazeq at the end of Ramadan to savor the treat with their tea and coffee beyond the holy month, when it is no longer as readily available in the market. Think of it as one way of holding on to the blessing of Ramadan.



Ali Qleibo, interview by the author, April 3, 2024.

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