Monday, June 23, 2014

Lebanese Crunchy Sesame Cookies

Another entry to this month Home Bakers Challenge. Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth has given us some wonderful suggestions from Arabic cuisine. It has been a long time since I baked cookies. Though sweet is not welcomed much here, I make it once in a while; I munch on a few and give the rest to friends and neighbors here. I find this quite healthy with the addition of sesame. Like these crunchy sesame cookies.

Yields: 24 cookies


All Purpose Flour 2 1/4 cups
Baking Powder 1 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda 1 tsp
Vanilla Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Unsalted butter 100g
Powdered Sugar 2/3 cup
Egg 1
Toasted Sesame Seeds 2 cups
Milk 2-3 tblsp or as required


In a large bowl, combine the flour, Baking Powder and Soda, Vanilla Powder and Salt. Whisk until well combined and keep it aside.

In a stand mixer or a hand beater, beat softened butter until creamy and done. Add Sugar and beat until well combined. Now add egg and continue beating until it gets combined and done.

Now add the flour mixture little by little and beat on a medium speed. The mixture would be very dry. So add milk so as to form a smooth dough. 

Preheat the oven at 180 deg C for 10 minutes. Now scoop a tbsp of mixture, gently flatten and roll over toasted sesame seeds. Place it on the lined cookie sheet. Repeat the same for the entire dough. 

Bake at 180 deg C for 12-14 minutes until slightly brown along its sides. Cool it completely on a wire rack before serving or storing in an air tight container.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Savory Semolina Cake

I am paired with Nayana Pikle for Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. She has suggested two ingredients; Semolina and Coriander. I made this flavorful and spicy savory semolina cake which has become a hit here. I didn't expect it to be so tasty. It is definitely worth a try again. 

Adapted from here and here.


Semolina 1 cup
Red Chilli Powder 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder a generous pinch
Baking Powder 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder 1/2 tsp
Peas 1/4 cup
Chopped Beans 1/4 cup
Carrot 3 grated - medium
Onion chopped - 1/2 - medium
Finely chopped Ginger 1 tblsp
Yoghurt 1 cup
Water 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds for topping

To temper:

Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
Finely chopped Curry Leaves 1 tbsp
Finely chopped Coriander Leaves 3 tbsp


Preheat the oven at 175 deg C. Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. 

Add oil in a pan. When hot, add mustard seeds. When it starts popping up, add cumin seeds, chopped coriander and curry leaves. Pour this tempering into the mixture and mix until well combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake at 175 deg C for 35-40 minutes until done or a tooth prick inserted comes out clean.

Serve hot with green chutneys and ketchup.

Notes:  I used yellow semolina. If using regular sooji, pulse it in a mixer for a few seconds before adding. I think beans can be avoided as it was quite difficult for me to cut thinner slices. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Manakish Zaatar

Manakish Zaatar, a lebanese flat bread is frequently had for breakfast here in middle east countries. Zaatar is a combination of dried herbs. Zaatar stuffed croissants are very common here. This Manakish Zaatar is had along with olives, cucumber and cheese. But we are not very fond of cheese and thus we have with regular yoghurt. 

When Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth has suggested the recipes for this month, I was overwhelmed with joy as most of them are in my to do list and there are non sweet bakes too. Sweets are something that I make it very rare here. Zaatar was something that I wanted to try since long. And here it is.. 

Recipe Source: The Kitchn


Lukewarm water 1/2 cup
Sugar 1/4 tsp
Active dry yeast 1 1/8 tsp
All Purpose Flour 1 1/2 cups
Salt 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil 1 tbsp

Zaatar topping:

Ground Sumac 1/8 cup
Dried Oregano 1 tbsp
Dried Thyme 1 tbsp
Roasted Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
Olive oil 1/4 cup


Take 2 tbsp of water (from the 1/2 cup) in a bowl, add sugar and yeast. Mix well and keep it aside until it becomes frothy and increase in size. This would take 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add salt and olive oil to the flour and keep it aside. When the yeast mixture is ready, add it along with the remaining water little by little to the flour to form a smooth dough.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth until it gets doubled. This would take an hour.

Remove the dough. Divide it into 2-3 equal parts. Put them back in the same greased bowl with the covered damp cloth for another 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 205 deg C for 10 minutes. 

Mix the ingredients for the zaatar topping. Take the dough ball. Spread it evenly to 7-8 inch diameter. Make indentations from the center so as to add the zaatar topping leaving an 1-2 inch around. 

Take a heaped tbsp of the zaatar topping and spread it around. 

Grease a 8 inch round cake pan. Add the prepared zaatar. Bake for 12 minutes until crisp and gets slightly brown along the sides. (The original recipe called for only 8 minutes. But it varies depending upon the size of the oven and stone used.) 


I halved the original recipe. But when I made 4 equal balls out of the dough, it turned out to be too much crisp and very flat. So 2-3 equal balls out of the dough (if prepared with the measurements above) would be much better.