Kleicha may be considered the national cookie of Iraq. It comes in different shapes and fillings, although the most popular are the ones filled with dates.
Assyrians bake Kleicha on Eid Gura, Easter, and Eid Sura, Christmas, in which they are usually stuffed with dates and served with tea.
The ancient Babylonians were known to make similar cookies called
Ingredients (To make 40 pieces):
600g plain flour
200g melted butter
1 tbs dry yeast
1 tbs sugar
½ tbs salt
600g packet of date paste
2 large sandwich bags
Begin by making the pastry. In a food mixer, add the flour, melted butter, yeast, and sugar.
On a low setting, mix the ingredients together. You are looking for almost a pizza dough texture. Add water gradually and if you feel the mix needs more, then add. When you feel it is close, add the nigella seeds.
Once blended, push the dough with your hand, there should be a spring in the dough and it should feel moist.
Place in a bowl and cover with a towel – leave to rest for 40 minutes to allow the yeast activate.
While the pastry is resting, start on the date mix.
Begin by heating a large saucepan with the sunflower oil. Add the date mixture. It will seem hard at first, however, as the pan heats up, the date mix should begin to soften. Add the cardamom powder.
Keep stirring and folding it. You are looking for a soft texture that can easily be rolled.
After the pastry has risen, separate it into 4 pieces.
On a floured surface roll the pastry out into a rectangle shape. You are looking for the longest part to be vertical and the shortest, horizontal to you.
Separately, take your sandwich bag and place a ball of date paste (size of a small apple) on top, and then place another sandwich bag on top of the date. Roll the date paste out to a similar shape of the rectangular pastry, it should be easy to shape/mold.
Peel away the top layer and place the dates on top of the pastry. Remove all of the plastic from the dates.
Any gaps on the pastry, you can just fill it in with extra date paste.
Next, shape your cookies. Begin from the vertical side and roll from right to left. You are looking for a tight roll. Start from the top and work your way down.
Take your rolled pastry and cut the
Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C. You are looking for a golden color and the smells should be wonderful.
Repeat for the other 3 batches.