It has been a while since I posted a cookie recipe and what better time than the festive month of December. I had bookmarked ghriba cookies long time back since they looked so appetising and moreish. It looked like a cross between snowball cookies and crinkle cookies. The flavours sounded amazing too. Ghriba is Moroccan traditional cookie that can be made with almonds, sesame seeds, coconut, walnuts or any nuts of your choice I believe. Since my family loves coconut, so I zeroed in on coconut ghriba to share for Christmas. Being homey, traditional cookies, they are simple and shaped with hands. They are made using flour and semolina but can be easily turned into gluten free cookies by adding almond meal or cornmeal to them. Or you can make them entirely with almonds. Usually, orange blossom water is added for the the flavour. You can add zest of orange (lemon too would work since it adds a nice zesty touch) if you don’t have the orange blossom water. Feel free to add aromatics of your choice – cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc. The round shaped cookies are soft, pillowy and chewy and what is best is they are gluten free. Ghriba bahla is somewhat, a close cousin of the Indian Nankhatai. Enjoy it as a snack, with your cuppa or treat yourself with ghriba as dessert. These are the easiest cookies to make.
2 C desiccated Coconut
1/3 C Semolina or Almond meal
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 large Egg
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Orange Blossom Water plus extra for moistening hands
½ C Powdered Sugar plus extra for rolling the cookies
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
A pinch of Salt
Whisk together the desiccate coconut, almond meal (or semolina, which ever you are using) and baking powder. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, powdered sugar & salt. Add eggs and whisk again. Add orange blossom water, (you can add a tablespoon or two of marmalade if you don’t have orange blossom water) and vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate.
Add the dry ingredients and mix them well using hands. Cover the bowl and set aside the dough for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven (at 180 degree C) at this point.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take walnut sized cookie dough. Moisten your hands with orange blossom water and give round shape to the dough. Roll in the powdered sugar and place it on the baking sheet.
Repeat with the rest of the dough, keeping a little distance between the cookie dough on the sheet since it will spread a little when baking.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or till golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once cool, remove from the baking sheet and dust with more powdered sugar if required.
Note: The baking time is less if you are using semolina (10 – 12 minutes) and 15 to 20 minutes if you are using almond meal.
Note – It is perfectly fine to have cracks in the cookies. These cracks are in fact characteristic of these cookies.
Note: Ghriba is traditionally enjoyed with mint tea.
Yield – 12 – 14 cookies (depending on size)