My favourite thing about these little buttery, crumbly, fragrant cookies is actually the look on my Mama’s face when she talks about them. She closes her eyes and says ‘hmmmm. They would melt in your mouth. Literally melt in your mouth’ and she talks about her mother’s Ghraiba. Teta shafika was a pro at making these, whipping them up in no time and perfectly shaping them every time. The last time I made these, my mother walked into the kitchen just as I was about to shape the cookies and she told me that her mother always shaped them into S’s, so I decided to do the same and I think I always will now…
I always split this batch in two and make slightly different cookies- just for variety and fun!
160g icing sugar
450-500g plain flour
2 tbsp rose water
dried rose petals
orange blossom cookies
2 tbsp orange blossom water
beat the butter and sugar together and then split the mixture in two.
Add the rose water to one mixture and the orange blossom to the other and then add 200-250g plain flour to each mixture.
Add as much of the flour as you can before the mixture becomes too crumbly, as you won’t be able to form the cookies if they are too dry, and the cookies won’t hold their shape in the oven if you don’t add enough flour. Remembering which is which, place them in the fridge for an hour.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Preheat the oven to 150C
Once out of the fridge, knead slightly for a minute, but don’t overwork as you don’t want to warm the butter up.
Shape the rose cookies into small balls and flatten onto the baking sheet.
Shape the orange blossom cookies into open ‘s’ shapes and push a pistachio into either end of the shape
Bake on the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes. They should remain light and not brown. This recipe will make you about 40-45 cookies in total.
Photographs: Mark Kensett