I have written somewhere in my blog that I love Middle Eastern Food. I totally adore their dishes, from savoury to sweet stuff. Who doesn´t love baklava? Or orange blossom or rose water scented pudding? Or kebab, pita or Turkish bread with all sorts of dips? The list will go on and on as my imagination runs wild and free, so I should stop my listing here…. Anyway, I have gone crazy over the past weeks to add two Middle Eastern cookbooks into my collection. One is Arabesque by Claudia Roden and the other one is Saha by Greg and Lucy Malof. Both of them are excellent with beautiful writing about the background of cuisines, traditions and travel. I love this type of book – something you can enjoy in your living room as well as the kitchen. As for the recipes, Arabesque seems to be easier and straightforward. Saha, on the other hand, is more glamorous. Its recipe is more suitable for special occasions I suppose…
I have tried two recipes from Arabesque and they turned out very good. When it is time to try out recipe from Saha, I pick Barazek – Crunchy Sesame-pistachio Biscuits since I love cookies with lots of nuts in it. The result is something wonderful and hits my tastebud straight on. In the words from the book itself – “…simple, but they are meltingly short and crunchy, and wickedly addictive”. It is said Syrian and Lebanese housewives usually buy kilos of these biscuits home from the souk. After trying these delights, I completely understand why!
Barazek – Crunchy Sesame-pistachio Biscuits
Ingredients (for 25-30 biscuits)
40g soft brown sugar
45g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-rising flour
50g pistachio nuts, cuts into slivers
60g sesame seeds
Cream sugar and butter together. Mix in vanilla and egg, followed by the flour. The dough softens easily, so transfer it to the fridge for 30 mins before baking.
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line 2 baking trays.
Take a little piece of dough and roll them between the palms of your hands into small marble-size balls. Flatten gently to form little discs around 1 cm thick. Line up to dishes, one with pistachio and the other one with sesame seeds. Press one side of the dough into the pistachios, then turn and press the other side into the sesame seeds. Carefully brush off any excess and place on the prepared baking seeds, allowing about 5 cm between them for spreading.
Bake for 10-12 mins or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.