Iraq -Kleicha (date cookies)

May I present to you my latest baking attempt – Kleicha or date cookies – all the way from sunny Iraq.  I thought these seemed appropriate as Ramadan has just started, and apparently dates are traditionally eaten by Muslims to break their fast each evening. 

This wasn’t my finest hour and not something I’d add to my ‘have to make again’ list, but that is mainly my fault, because I added way too much rose water (I only followed the recipe!).  I reckon this could be tasty if you get the quantities right, and personally I think by removing the rose water altogether you’d end up with something really tasty.

I should add that I’m not a massive rose water fan.  It reminds me a bit of those Parma Violet sweets you used to get when you were little (do you remember those?).  I really didn’t like them – they tasted of soap!

I found this recipe on a website called Food Fare which has loads of recipes from around the world – I may revisit it for ideas for other blog entries.


Kleicha cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp rose water (very much dependent on the brand you use)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Walnut pieces (for garnish, optional)

Preheat oven to 180C.  In a bowl, mix together flour and sugar.  Rub in one cup of butter until evenly distributed.  Add rose water and water ((NB I used Nielsen-Massey rose water, and it was WAY too strong, so I basically ended up with a very very overly-rose flavoured pastry and couldn’t taste anything else.  Not great.  So just a warning to use a much smaller amount – 1tsp should be enough.  Should have trusted my instinct, but went with the recipe).  Knead mixture into a dough; allow to rest for about thirty minutes.

In a saucepan, heat chopped dates with two tablespoons of butter until soft.

You now have two options (I went with option 2):

Option 1:  Roll dough into balls; fill with a small amount of date mixture and pinch to seal.  Arrange on greased baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes; allow to cool before garnishing each piece with a walnut piece.  Serve.

Option 2: On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangular shape; drop spoonfuls of date filling onto the dough.  Push down with a wet spoon to cover dough with date filling.  Roll up the dough to form a long log; cut into pieces. Bake on a greased baking sheet, bottom-side down, for about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving.  Garnish with walnut pieces if desired.


The overall effect looked great, and I’m sure the pastries would be really nice if I hadn’t used as much rose water.  Note to self – trust instincts!  I guess an issue with the blog is trying out new recipes with nothing to compare them to – absolutely no idea what they’re supposed to taste like!

Did you know?

  • The word ‘date’ comes from the Greek word ‘daktylos’, meaning finger
  • Dates were probably cultivated about 8,000 years ago in present-day Iraq
  • Dates are traditionally used by Muslims to break the Ramadan fast each evening

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