Persian Rice Cookies – Nan-e berenji
I was fortunate enough to have come by these cookies on a random visit to a Persian restaurant on the edge of my college campus back the mid-90’s. I distinctly remember the sweet flavor and the rosy aromatics which, while unexpected, was both welcome and memorable. Crumbly, buttery, with a sweetness of roses, this cookie still sits in my mind and calls to me.
Since my birthday is fast approaching, I decided to treat myself to an early gift and got my hands on a reputable Persian cookbook. As expected, the first thing I looked up were these cookies and lo and behold…there it was! Rice cookie recipe in full detail…down to the preparation of the simple syrup with rose water that gave those cookies that extra zip.
Comparable to the shortbread that I made earlier, the key difference here is rice flour is employed instead of all purpose and ghee used in place of regular butter. The rose water infused simple syrup that is added to the dough gives the cookies all of the sugary sweetness it needs and while giving it the distinctive aroma that you’ll always remember these little guys for.
The recipe was very thorough and resulted in a cookie very much like the one that I had those many moons ago. I had to deviate slightly as the liquid to flour ratio in the original recipe didn’t quite work out. After adding the syrup to my flour mixture, I ended up with “dough” the consistency of pancake batter. After a moment of panic, followed by incredulity, and then an additional 1 1/4 cups of rice flour later, all was well again in my kitchen.
Adapted from New Food of Life
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rose water
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 cup ghee, melted
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
4 1/4 cups rice flour
Poppy seeds for garnish
Prepare the syrup by combing sugar and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes (be careful not to overboil). Remove from heat, add rose water and lime juice. Set aside to cool. It should be room temperature and not too thick.
In a warm mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy. Add the syrup made earlier and mix well.
In another, larger mixing bowl, whisk together cardamom and flour. Add ghee and mix well for 5 minutes then add egg yolk mixture and mix for 20 seconds. Knead well for another minute, or until dough no longer sticks to your hands. Allow the dough to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take a spoonful of dough, roll into a ball the size of a hazelnut and flatten slightly. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat, leaving 2.5″ between each ball. With a fork or end of a skewer, draw geometric patterns on the top of each cookie and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Place cookie sheet in center of preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cookies should be white when they are done. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on sheet slightly before removing them to a cooling rack. Cookies are very crumbly so remove carefully!
~ by tastydesu on April 26, 2010.