The Murderous History of Qatar’s Most Common Dessert

Dip your spoon into Om Ali—a golden, bread pudding-like dessert, lush and creamy with heat milk and studded with golden raisins and pistachios—in any eating place or cafe in Doha, Qatar. You might not forestall to think whatever except this is in all likelihood one of the pleasant desserts in life. The recipe couldn’t be extra simple, nor greater ideal. Puff pastry, milk, sugar, cream, and a smattering of nuts and raisins and other dried results are thrown into an oven and served golden brown.


Qatar, one of the smallest nations of the Gulf States, stocks dessert traditions with the relaxation of the place’s Arabic international locations. Even because the usa of Qatar rushes headlong into futuristic green power architecture and making plans, this historical dessert hailing from lower Egypt may be found at cafes and fancy inns. Q-explorer Qatari manual Abdullah Mohammed advised me, “you could even consume it for breakfast.”

But, like many famous dishes, the idea of the recipe is hotly disputed—and uncovering the over-the-pinnacle actual crime detail of one of the three competing beginning tales is a real thrill trip. All 3 testimonies refer lower back to the name of the dish—“mother” (om) of Ali, her son. (Thanks to the patriarchy, the woman who created the dessert never gets her full name written down in the annals of records.)

One tale follows a humble course of an old lady (who occurs to have a son named Ali) in a negative village inside the Nile Delta, wherein a sultan within the thirteenth century with obvious imperiousness asked for something to eat when he surpassed via this particular village even as on a hunt. Scrambling for something worthy of a sultan, the vintage woman mixed collectively whatever she had accessible, and the sultan determined it as soften-in-the-mouth scrumptious as the cutting-edge day variations and made it famous upon his return to the town—naming it after the mom of Ali.

When she allegedly murdered her 2nd husband for taking another wife, his first spouse—the purported Om Ali of dessert fame, who was thrown over at Al-Durr’s behest—allegedly bribed some maids to homicide her inside the hammam by beating her to loss of life with their footwear.

A more Cersei Lannister-bent story, with greater windy plot twists than an episode of Game of Thrones, also lays declare to the dessert’s foundation story: Life and death stakes mixed with a Great British Bake Off turn.

Shajarat Al-Durr (a Syrian chronicler calls her “the foxiest girls of her age”) commenced her course to energy first as a bonded slave who married a sultan after giving him a son he died; she dominated in his stead. However, because of a very complex political situation, she ended up wanting to remarry. She lost the legit seat of power because the powers that be would now not be given a girl ruler. But she already had a taste for head-of-kingdom matters and was reputed to be pulling strings behind the facade of her 2nd husband.

When she allegedly murdered her 2d husband for taking some other wife, his first spouse—the purported Om Ali of dessert fame, who become thrown over at Al-Durr’s behest—allegedly bribed a few maids to homicide her within the hammam with the aid of beating her to death with their shoes. (It’s doubtful whether or not the footwear was a part of the commands or that it became a spontaneous method of murdering.)

Another account says that Al-Durr met an ignominious dying through being thrown off the citadel’s pinnacle using the first wife, who has been anticipating her candy, sweet revenge. (When you play the Game of Thrones…)

Upon the jubilant information that her rival turned into useless, the primary wife demanded her chefs compete to create a dish celebrating her rival’s demise and even extra more; she even served it in with a gold coin in the bowl.

It needs to be mentioned that this tale suggests up best through gleeful memories around the dish and now not in authentic historical bills, which can be in large part due to the truth many reputable history books were stored by way of guys—maybe they failed to care approximately the bread pudding-like dessert component.

Navigating lore and history receive a bit “turtles all of the manner down.” Still, Al-Durr may also be discredited inside the aftermath after she misplaced her energy as a form of a reputational smear campaign that King Richard III additionally suffered.

Lastly, remove from political intrigue and murder is a story approximately an Irishwoman. Yes, indeed, a dessert dish typically served inside the Middle East ought to likely involve an Irish mistress. An Irish nurse with the own family call O’Malley caught the ruler’s attention, Khedive Ismail, who changed into the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879. Khedive Ismail had a dessert created mainly for her known as O’Malley, which, a few say, might have been bastardized into Om Ali by way of an Arabic audio system.

Food can be so much more than calories and nutrition, and it can be a celebration of people, places, things, and experiences. It can be the story of someone’s life or the simple delight of sharing a moment with family and friends. At Feed the Food, we love food. And we want to share it. So we create beautiful and creative photo shoots, write engaging stories, and create recipes that make food fun.