Syrian Cafe Sweetens Londoners’ Ramadan with Traditional Delights

Thu Apr 06 2023
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LONDON: Syrian sweet shops in London have grown in both supply and popularity in recent years, becoming popular tourist destinations, particularly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk during the fasting month. This also means that it is a month full of delightful traditional dishes and desserts, each unique to different Islamic countries or regions.


Pistahoney Cafe, a small Syrian sweet shop in west London, is one such place that takes pride in its authentic taste and high-quality ingredients. It has distributed its goods throughout the UK in a relatively short period of time after its formation. Most Levantine sweets are made with semolina, filo pastry, or flour and are stuffed or topped with a type of sweet cheese, nuts, or fresh cream known as “qishta” in Arabic.


During Ramadan, however, special desserts are made, and the regular ones are usually stuffed with more fresh cream and sugar, according to Anas Sheekh Aly, director of Pistahoney Cafe. He stated that this Ramadan, we were able to bring our qishta cream from Syria to provide people with the authentic taste, as this is the original one, and, as usual, everyone knows that we only use the original stuff here at Pistahoney.



The journey of the cafe began five years ago with a small factory, followed by the opening of the shop in Acton, an area with a large Arab population. Aly explained that the idea came from the fact that we couldn’t find the true taste in London and that we needed someone to bring the true flavour, so he reasoned, why not him? He stated that he began bringing pastry chefs to London in order for them to replicate the “real taste” because many places use cheap or impure ghee or non-traditional qishta with cornflour.


He explained that in the beginning, people didn’t really know who we were, and we didn’t use much advertising; instead, we relied on our flavour and taste. Aly explained that the business grew through word of mouth and that people with sweet tooth all over the country can now place orders through the website.



The small family-run shop is expanding in business and reputation, and it tries to supply sweet products for anyone who misses certain things in their home country but cannot return for various reasons. He stated that we talk to our customers and treat each customer as if he were our only customer.


Apart from Arabs, different nationalities visit the cafe every day, and it has regular customers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, and Romania. “Even Turkish people come and buy sweets from us,” he said, referring to the similarity of Turkish and Arabic sweets.


He claims there are many competitors in his field, and he has experienced several setbacks in the last five years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on all food businesses. Aly stated that he has yet to achieve any of his goals and ambitions, that he is still at the beginning, and that he hopes to achieve much more.

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