Pancakes (Quata’if) and Biscuts (Khushkananaj)

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This bread was a little on the different side.  Ok very much on the different side.  I’ve never used galingale or watermelon in a bread before and was a bit hesitant on how it would taste.  It sounds horrible especially when you add in the garlic.  I know!!  Weird huh?  However, I am very pleased with the results.  This is one of those sweet spicy breads that needs to be eaten to believe.  This is not your ordinary bread!

Galingale Bread with Watermelon

Galingale watermelon bread 008


Bread with lightly leavened white flour, cardamoms, ghee, honey, almonds, kironji kernels, pulp of the marsh melon, date sugar, galingale, garlic, sunf, poppy seeds. (Nimatnama, pp. 58)


6 C. White flour

3 tsp. yeast

1 C. Date sugar

1 C. Ghee

1 C. Water

5 Tbs. Honey

1 C. Pine nuts

2 Tbs. Galingale ground

2 Tbs. Cardamom ground

2 Tbs. Garlic ground

1/2 C. Poppy seeds.

2 tsp. salt

1 C. Watermelon (seeded and drained of most juice) if in season



Gather up all of your ingredients.

Galingale watermelon bread 002

As you can see I had to change out the actual watermelon for watermelon juice.  Watermelon is out of season but I did have the juice on hand.  Long story but it was a tasty one!  The round hard puck, bottom center is palm sugar.  This needs to be dissolved into your watermelon juice OR melt this over a stove or a microwave.  It’s a t-total B*&^# to try and chop.  Of course this is hind sight.  I used the microwave, which melted the sugar a little bit, enough to get small(ish) chunks into the flour with the spices and nuts.

The galingale is the light colored powder in the small bowl bottom right.  When bought dry it comes in dry root chunks that are tough and hard.  This needs to be ground into a very fine powder.  No one wants to bite into tough wood chunks!  I used a coffee grinder that is solely for spice grinding that is wiped down between each grind.

The next step is add the dry to the flour and stir.

Galingale watermelon bread 004

See how large the palm sugar chunks are?  That is a bit larger than you want.  At this sizes I might have been able to grind them…but I didn’t want to break either the spice grinder or my cuisinart and my child is to young to use as slave labor for the pestle and mortar.

The third step is to add in the butter and honey.  The honey looks rather clumpy/granular in the picture.  It is.  The honey got cold so turned granular.  It is perfectly useable in this form.  If you want flowing honey pulse it for 10-20 seconds in the microwave or put the granular honey in a bowl, then place the bowl in a pot with water that is 1/3 the height of the bowl and heat the pot slowly.  Other wise you will break the bowl and/or make honey water.  Keep the bowl in the water till the honey melts.  (See why I went with the granular?)

Add the watermelon slowly, a drizzle at a time.  You want the bread to start forming a ball but not be wet and mushy.

Galingale watermelon bread 005

This is the finished bread.  The picture does not do the light pink tinge justice.  Very pretty in an almost Hello Kitty way.

Let the bread sit for 90 minutes.  The bread doesn’t rise a whole bunch (or at least mine didn’t).

Galingale watermelon bread 006

When the bread has risen enough (or not much) I oiled my soapstone baking stone and put in the oven for 350 minutes for 60 minutes.


Galingale watermelon bread 007

This is the finished bread.  Nice and brown with a good hollow sound when thumped.

Galingale watermelon bread 008The crumb is not hard but a bit dense, more like a scone then bread.  The taste is…sweet and spicy.  Very tasty.  I didn’t bother with butter, just nibbled pieces off the hot loaf.

January 30, 2015 | No comments

So I picked up a few new books for my birthday.  One of them, “Enchanting Recipes from the Tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights” was one of those “Hmmm, Let’s see.” type of books.  I am actually very please.  There are not 1001 sweets in the Arabian Nights but the 25 recipes they do have are very nice.

It seems that every culture that has access to flour, sugar and butter makes some sort of sugar cookie.  Sweet subtle and very tasty!

Baqsamat bi Sukkar

(Middle Eastern Twice Cooked Sugar Cookie)



Take flour and sugar, moisten, and knead with butter.  If it is not sweet enough add finely pounded sugar to it.  Make for it a liquid mixture of yeast with a little water.  Make baqsamat in any variety that you wish.  Bake on a tray in the oven a second time after having baked it once. (Ibn al-Adim, Kitab al-Waslah ila al-Habib fi Wasf al-Tayyibat wa al-Tib/Salloum, pp. 58)


2 C flour

1 C sugar

2 sticks butter

¼ C water

2 Tbs yeast


¼-1/2  tsp (total) spices i.e. cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves



This recipe is based on both the Arabian Nights and a period recipe.  Salloum suggest treating this as a typical sugar cookie, with the twist of adding yeast and water per the recipe.

Take about a teaspoon of sugar and add to the yeast.  This will get the yeast going while you mix the other ingredients together.

Basic recipe is to take flour and sugar, mix well.

Next cut butter into small chunks/cubes.

Then add in cubed butter,

till the butter is mixed with the flour and sugar in to pea sized granules.

Next add in yeast/water.

This will form a dough.

Cut into forms,

and cook once and allow to cool.  Then cook a second time till a little harder.

My thought is with the original recipe saying “Make baqsamat in any variety that you wish” they are saying one of two things (possibly both).  Make the shape of the cookie into any form you wish and/or add spicing of your choice.  Even with cooking twice, there is a sufficient amount of moisture that the cookies are very moist.  Almost to moist to hold any actual shape that isn’t round.

For this recipe I went with the shape first.  Next time I am going to add a few spices for a subtly sweet dry cookie.



(Small Pasta Squares)


Make a dough with flour, water, salt, and a little yeast.  Knead energetically and stretch it out on a table; the layer of dough should be extremely thin.  Using a knife, cut squares the size of two fingers and dry (them) in the sun.  Keep to be used as needed.

Zaouali, pp. 118


1 cup flour                    ½ tsp salt                      1/3 cup water (more if necessary to moisten dough)                               1 tsp yeast


The dough was made by combining the flour, salt, water and yeast.

noodle ingredients

Then rolled out to form a very thin dough, roughly 1/16 inch in height.

dough rolled out

When I rolled out the dough, I originally had added a bit more water then intended and had to over flour the board from which the dough was rolled out on.  The dough absorbed the extra flour with out detriment to the taste.  So a well floured bored is needed and if necessary a little extra can be added to help the dough’s formation.

After the dough was rolled out and evened up a bit, two fingers in width

finger measuring

(roughly 1 inch squares) were measured and cut with a knife.

dough in strips

Some of the dough squares stuck to the knife, so I did try these with a pizza cutter and had better success.  Sprinkling a little flour on the surface of the dough would also alleviate any sticking.

Once the squares were cut out,

dough in square cookie sheets were lined with parchment paper and a single layer of squares were placed there on.   Note: The recipe will make roughly enough pasta to fill two cookie sheets.

I took the cookie sheets to sit in the sun to dry.

dough drying

I  found that the drying dough formed little air pockets on the under side (due to the yeast) so that the squares looked sort of like ravioli with out the stuffing.  Very cute!

dried dough puffed

If you prefer non-puffed squares just prick the freshly rolled and cut squares with a fork.  This will release any air building up from the yeast and warm sunny day working on the pasta.  I didn’t know to do that on this batch but I sort of like the little pillow look of these!

When the squares were thoroughly dried, they were placed in a glass jar for later use in soups and stews which call for pasta.

When I first did this recipe, I was expecting a really spectacularly spicy flavored bread or bun.  Not so much.  There are no spices to speak, of just nuts.  I think the naming (spiced)  is a bit of a misnomer.   I would have said nut bread myself but here you have it.  A wonderful flavorful bun if not exactly spicy just nutty.

Khubz al-Abazir

(Spiced Bread)


Take good flour and put a third of a pound of sesame oil on every pound, and an ounce of sesame seeds and a handful of pistachios and almonds, and kneed it. And when it has risen, bake it in the bread oven in round buns, the thickness of the buns is two fingers.  When they brown and are done, take them and eat them with halwa.

Rodinson, pp. 431


3 cups flour                  ½ cup sesame oil          1/3 cup water    1 tsp yeast

2 Tbs ea sesame seeds, almonds, pistachios

My Redaction:

I believe the term “spiced bread” may be a misnomer as there is no spicing in the bread other then sesame oil with seeds and nuts.

spiced buns ingredients

When making this, I combined the flour and oil together then water and yeast.  I have made these with just flour and sesame oil, the oil overwhelms any flavor of the nuts; hence the cutting of sesame oil by half.  The water is necessary to compensate for lack of oil.  The yeast is not directly mentioned but it is referred to as commented in the translation as  “…when it has risen…”.  Most kitchens do not have enough wild yeast to elicit this type of rising with out help from yeast.

spiced bun dough

Once the dough was mixed together, I added the nuts.  The original did not mention if the almonds or pistachios were chopped so I kept them whole.   The dough was allowed to rise for an hour then formed into thick “patties” about a finger’s width in height.

spiced buns dough

When cooked the buns rose to about 2 finger widths in height.

spiced buns

These buns are a great delivery for flavor of just about anything sweet or even savory.  (I tried these with a home made spaghetti sauce the other night too!).

halwa w buns

These buns are excellent with plum jam or halwa paste.

When they say salty buns they weren’t kidding.  Though I did use a bit more salt then might have been necessary; the buns do make a very salty base for sweet.  I also liked the bread as a sandwich type of bun.  Good for grilled meats or the sweet and sour meats as a next day treat on salty bread.

Aqras Mumallaha

(Salted Buns)


Take as much flour as needed and put a quarter pound of sesame oil on every pound of flour, and put in a moderate amount of salt, such that it is neither apparent nor deficient.  Bake it, after it rises, in the same way as khubz al-abazir, but (rolled) a little thinner, and when it browns lightly, take it out.  This is only made so that the appetite may incline to the salty taste, rather than the sweet, so it is served among the sweet dishes.

(Rodinson, pp. 431)


2 C. flour          3 Tbs sesame oil           1 tsp salt           ¼ C water        1 tsp yeast

My Redaction:

I took 2 cups of flour and salt, combining till well blended.  The sesame oil was then added along with the water and yeast.  The yeast I placed into the water until mixed and allowed to set for 5 minutes.


The recipe does not specifically say to add yeast; however with the phrase “…after it rises” makes me believe that yeast was added.  Very few kitchens have enough yeast floating through the air to make bread rise with out the addition of yeast cells.  So with that in mind I took in the need for water and yeast (technically yeast can be added with out water; however I find that with out water added with the yeast the bread is less elastic with less rise).  The dough sat until doubled in size, then formed into roughly hand sized buns and cooked at 350 till lightly brown.


The dough sat rising for about an hour (you can leave bread to rise for a long while so if you forget and come back to really puffy dough…don’t panic.  The dough is still usable!).  Now you can form more then 3 out of the dough if rolled a little thinner and smaller.

If these are to be used for a dessert I would definitely suggest a smaller bun about 1-2 inches across more like a bread spoon instead of a bread pocket.

These 3 dough pieces made for very nicely formed salted buns.  Just the right size for sandwiches.


This is what the bread looks like stuffed with a very tasty bit of beef cut up into pieces.  The salted buns are definitly a switch hitter.  Good for both the meat and the sweet!

This bread was to be used a salty offset for the sweet dishes.  I have also used this recipe with a little less salt as a base for bread buns used for stuffing of meat into.  Very tasty and very salty.  Goes well with jams.


(Persian Dry Bread)


Take excellent flour and put three ounces of fresh sesame oil on a pound of it.  Knead it hard with a little water.  Make it right away, with out leavening.  Then make it into long cakes and put finely pounded sugar and almonds in them, as much as they will bear; and let the sugar, like the almonds be spiced.  Sprinkle a little rose-water on them, then bake them in a tannur as bread is baked until done.  Take them up.  If you want fried, knead the dough with sesame oil and fill it and fry it and dip it in syrup and sprinkle it with sugar.

(Rodinson, pp. 425)


Crust – 1.5 C flour        3 Tbs sesame oil           2 Tbs water

Filling – ¼ C almonds   ¼ C sugar

½  tsp each of ground cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper

Sprinkling of rose-water

Syrup – honey or date syrup

My redaction:

My first time through on the recipe I just made the dough.  I did not do any stuffing or dipping into syrup.    I took 1.5 cups of flour and mixed with 3 Tbs of sesame oil, incorporating just enough water to form a sold but pliable dough.  I then made 2 oblong flat loaves to be cooked at 350 in the oven till golden brown.  flat bread made by dough

This dough is tasty though a lot like a pie crust dough just made with sesame oil instead of shorting.  The bread crumbs from this are AWESOME for use in anything.  We’ll refer back to this for bread crumbs at another time.

For the actual dough into stuffed cookies, I  rolled the dough on a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick (like pie dough) and cut into strips.

dough stripsThe dough strip to the left has incorporated a bit of cinnamon, which is nothing to worry about in the fundamental taste.  So if a little spicing gets incorporated into the dough…don’t worry, it’ll still be a very very tasty cookie.

The strips I rolled a little thinner and trimmed off any excess along the edges to give a more uniform and rectangular appearance.

rolled out dough

In the center of each I sprinkled the sugar, almonds and spices (mixed together in a bowl first) till there was no more room.

stuffed dough

I then folded over the edges and pressed to form a seal.

folded stuffed dough

The recipe leaves out a step and that is to seal the edges with water or egg.  The first time I did neither and there are gaps in the cooked cookies to prove it.  So with a little water on the finger tip, go along the inside of the dough before sealing, flip the edge over and press down.  The cookie is then sealed and there should be no leakage or unsightly gap showing the slip…err filling of the cookie.

Each rectangle was sprinkled with a little rose-water.  Just enough for flavor not enough to overwhelm.  The rectangles were then cooked at 350 for roughly 10 minutes or until just golden brown.  These are very dry; however with the addition of honey (or date syrup) the filled cookies become very very tasty treats.

cooked rolls and cookies

I had enough dough to make a few cookies.  They are VERY dry until you add some thing over them like honey or date syrup.  You can even make a honey rose-water syrup for dipping.  If you like dry cookies these are your new best friend, if you like things dipped into a syrup these will definitly be your new favorite.  Either way dry or with a sweet syrup you can’t go wrong serving these at your next period Middle Eastern Banquet.


(Shredded dough pastry)

The original translation is a bit tricky on this recipe.  This is what I call a reverse redaction as the original I found is actually a modern day recipe with cream cheese and orange water as part of the ingredients.  Here is a brief history and descriptions of the original types of shredded dough pastries.


The original commentary is –Batter is dribbled onto the warmed metal through perforations.  The fine ‘pasta’ that results is dried, rather then cooked, on the sheet,…to make a pastry, the kunafah dough must be baked with clarified butter and perhaps a filling such as nuts.  This was then ‘drowned’ in almond oil and syrup and considered to be as fine as grasshoppers wings.

(Rodinson, pp. 223).

There is no exact recipe for this though there is a modern day recipe that I have crossed with a pastry dessert called qata’if.

Quata’if – This is of various kinds.  Stuffed qata’if are baked into long shapes, stuffed with almonds and fine ground sugar, rolled round, and laid out: then sesame-oil, syrup, rose-water and fine ground pistachios are thrown on.

Judhab al-Qata’if – Take ata’if stuffed with almonds and sugar and fried; arrange oin a dish between two thin cakes, and set under a chicken.  Between every two layers put sugar, and almonds, peeled chopped fine, and scented asi n tuffing.  Pour on sesame-oil or if preferred fresh mil with more sugar.  When cooked and fragrant, remove.  Some, instead of almond and almond oil, use walnut and walnut oil (Rodinson, pp. 81, 87)

Quata’if is described as type of pancake.  However the Kunafa was not a pancake but did use shredded dough or dough cut into thin slices.  Rose-water, sugar, milk, eggs, honey (for the syrup) or date syrup is common to both recipes.   The modern day recipe however calls for the use of orange-water which was not used in period and has been omitted.  This recipe also calls for small curd cheese and a soft cheese.  With the Quata’if (Judhab) calling for milk and Persian shiraz (firm yogurt) as well as numerous soft cheeses available this would not be a hard stretch to turn milk into yogurt to be used.

With a reverse redaction the ingredients were changed to reflect a more historic types of ingredients.


2.5 sticks melted butter

1 lb Kataif dough

½ cup sugar

8 oz hard Persian yogurt or cream cheese softened

1 cup feta or goat cheese

2 eggs

1 cup ground pistashios

½ cup honey

1 ½ cups honey OR date syrup

1 ½ cup water

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tsp rose-water

½ cup almond oil

My Redaction:

When first doing this recipe, I combined the cheeses with the eggs and the ½ cup of honey, until smooth.

kunafa cheese mix

This is a bit messy but fun!

I set this aside to work on the dough.  Take the Kataif dough, making sure this is at room temperature and in a large bowl, I poured the melted butter over it.  Then I worked the butter through the dough, trying for an even coating as much as possible.  When the dough has been as best coated with butter, I place half of the dough in a greased dish.

Kunafa bottom layer of dough in pottery

If you love buttery dough this stuff is awesome.  I swear I consumed at least 1/2  a cup it was soooo tasty!

For those wondering, while I “could” maybe have made this with either rolled out dough and a knife to slice small strands of the rolled dough or even possibly using a pastry machine, I decided the best course of action that would NOT drive me bonkers while trying to make this was just to buy the dough at the store.  This can be found (for me) in a local HEB store though I believe the local Indian or Phoenician Bakery also carries this pastry dough also.

Once the bottom layer of dough is down I pour on the egg, cheese and honey mixture.  I then layer the sugar and pistachios onto this

kunafa cheese over dough

“But where are the pistachio and sugar?” You might ask.  Well, those were forgotten at the time of taking pictures.  (I was in the midst of cooking 3 dishes and taking several pictures and forgot the sugar and pistachio parts…but never fear they were added!).

After the sugar and nuts are layered, I add the remaining dough on top.  This is then baked till the dough is a golden brown on top.

While the dish is cooking I placed into a bowl the remaining honey, water, rose-water and sesame oil and mix thoroughly.   This will look like a HUGE amount.  Do not fret, all of the syrup will be absorbed.  Really.  All of it will be come one with the creamy salty sweet goodness that is about to come out of your oven!

Once the main dish is finished cooking and cooled (15-20 minutes) I poured the hot syrup and oil mixture on top.  This is allowed to absorb into the dish until there is no excess left.  Once the syrup has been absorbed into the dish, it is ready to serve.

kunafa baked w syrup

This series of photos were taken with a honey mixture.  The date syrup mixture adds a dark hue to the over all pastry as well as a very different taste.  I will suggest making a full batch of dough and cheese then doing a half and half set of the pastry using two different pans for each type to cook in.  I have also made this recipe using a miniature cheese cake pan (really cook looking when finished baking.  Again sorry no picture.  Yes I was in a hurry that night too!)  I have also used miniature bunt cake pan to make miniature servings.  These didn’t turn out nearly so well as the miniature cheese cake pan but they were still fun to make and even to eat!