By Raghad Al Safi: “Iraqis of all faiths mark their feasts with these delicious buttery biscuits. For Muslims the sweet scent wafting through the house, just begging to be consumed with an Istikan of sweet tea, signifies the arrival of Eid, while many Iraqi Christians celebrate Easter with the same treat. Although the ingredients for kleitcha are generally the same, there is something magical about these biscuits, which allows the cook to impart a bit of their identity into each one. In Iraq a housewife’s status is judged by the strength of her kleitcha – and my version will be sure to impress your guests!
Although these domed cookies were originally shaped using small bowls as moulds, today, wooden casts are often used. While the unique patterns of each mould are meant to hint at the contents inside and make it easy to identify the filling of each cookie, I suggest you taste them all – just to be sure there are no mistakes.
Alternately, for a quicker – and easier (but equally appetizing) – option, date kleitchas can be made by rolling the dough out onto a flat surface, placing the date mixture (about half a centimetre thick) on top, rolling the dough into a tube and cutting it into two-centimetre diagonal pieces, brushing it with egg, sprinkling it with sesame seeds, and baking.” Do read our review of Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook The Iraqi Kitchen.
Kleitcha ~ Iraqi Cookies
- For the dough, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead with your hands to a smooth, firm consistency. Cover the dough and leave until slightly risen (approximately 30 minutes).
For the date filling, finely chop the dates. Add cardamom and butter and mix by hand to form a coarse paste.
For the walnut filling, use a mortar and pestle to crush walnuts, icing sugar and cardamom together until mixed well. Add water to form a coarse paste. (Rose water can replace the cardamom. In this instance, mix the rose water into the crushed walnut and icing sugar, and omit the water.)
For the coconut filling, soak the coconut in condensed milk for one hour, then drain. Mix the coconut, icing sugar, butter and cardamom. Add water to form a coarse paste.
For the sesame filling, use a mortar and pestle to crush sesame, icing sugar and cardamom until well combined. Add water to form a coarse paste.
[The Iraqi Table is published by Motivate Publishing and is available in leading bookstores and at booksarabia.com. Motivate Publishing has shared the following recipes along with the images from Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook to FoodeMag. We may have altered it to match the format in which our all recipes appear in this website.]