These Persian rice cookies are a common feature at Nowruz, Persian New Year, as well as many other celebrations. Once you try the delicately flavored little bites, it’s easy to see why: fragrant, crumbly and gently sweet. They’re a true Middle Eastern treat.
Ever since I made Persian walnut cookies last year, I have been meaning to try some other Persian cookies. Of course, it has taken me almost a year but hey, it was worth the wait.
These are not your typical cookies as the flavorings are very much of the region, but they’re easy, delicious and naturally gluten free.
These rice cookies are one of the most popular for Nowruz celebrations, where you’ll also find other symbolic foods like kuku sabzi, Persian herb fritatta. (I have another savory recipe coming soon, so keep an eye out). You’ll also find them at celebrations like weddings and birthdays.
How to make Persian rice cookies
As with many traditional recipes, there are some variations. The basic ingredients of rice flour, sugar and egg are pretty constant from one version to another. But while many use oil, some use butter – I stuck with oil as much for ease as anything.
Most use rose water as the main or only flavoring, but others use cardamon. I used a bit of a mix of both, as I love what both bring flavor-wise. Then all seem to agree that you should leave the mixture for a good 6 hours in the fridge to firm up and let the flavors mingle. Then shape, decorate if you like, and bake.
I’m sharing these cookies today as part of an event coordinated by the fantastic Julie from The Little Kitchen to help raise money for Cookies for Kids Cancer. Each of the bloggers participating is not only sharing a tasty cookie recipe (see below!), we’ve all donated to this good cause and you can too here! Plus, by donating through this event, some great sponsors (Dixie Crystals, Mediavine and OXO) have each agreed to match donations up to $3,000, which we’re excited to say we have reached. But we can still raise more, so join us in helping this charity fight cancer in kids. Big thanks to Julie for organizing, and the sponsors for their donations, too.
See how easy these Persian rice cookies are to make in this short video:
These Persian rice cookies remind me a little of Spanish polverones, as they are relatively crumbly, but with the distinctive rosewater flavor that make them aromatic and bright. True, it’s not a flavor for everyone – my younger son and various friends loved them, but my older son was not so sure. But I’d recommend trying them as they’re so easy, there’s a good chance you’ll find a new favorite treat.
Persian rice cookies (nan-e berenji)
- 4 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar 60g
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1 cup rice flour 150g
- 1/8 tsp cardamon powder
- 1/2 tsp pistachios crushed, or sesame seeds, optional
- Whisk together the oil and confectioners sugar until well combined and glossy. Whisk in the egg yolk and the rosewater.
- Add the rice flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, and the cardamon and mix well. Use your hands as needed to press together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight, to help the flavors to mingle.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Take small handfuls of the dough and press together into a slightly flattened ball. Place the cookies on a baking sheet (lined is probably better but they don't really stick so not too drastic).
- Lightly score the tops of the cookies in a cross shape either with the tip of a knife or the edge of a spoon to be more rounded. Be careful not to cut in too far or the cookies will split wen you bake.
- Top with a little crushed pistachios or poppy seeds, if you like, then bake for approx 20 minutes until still not browned but they look more dry. Allow to cool before moving.
Try these other gluten free cookies:
See all the #helpingcookies being shared today – enjoy some tastiness in a good causes!
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