Rice flour cookies with poppy seeds, pistachios, and rosewater

Naan-e Berenji

نان برنجی

For as long as I remember these delicate and brittle little cookies were present at the tables and spreads of a Persian home. Most significantly these cookies would have their place at the Nowruz table (Persian New Year), which would also meet the company of a variety of other sweet treats, dried nuts, and fruits. These cookies are so popular among Iranians that you typically ended up just buying them from the neighborhood bakery. I actually don’t ever remember my mom making them!

These days, I drive about 15 miles (each way – but only uphill in one direction!) to the nearest Persian bakery and grocery store to stock up on my pantry items. I am frequently tempted by the sight and scent of all these familiar treats that take me back to the sweet memories of my childhood. I do indulge!

I also love cooking and baking and experimenting with the food of my childhood, and some of them I am making for the first time in my life. This is one of those recipes that I have played around with and after a few batches of experimentation, I have found this to be the one!

Naan-e Berenji

These cookies are quite delicate and brittle and packed with familiar flavors and aroma of cardamom and roses. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting time30 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: Cookies, rice flour, Rose water
Servings: 25 pieces
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • 5 tablespoons rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon rose petals, optional

Instructions

  • In a food processor, combine the confectioner’s sugar, egg yolk and butter and mix for a few seconds until creamy and smooth.
  • Continue by adding the flour, salt, cardamom, and rose water and mix for about 30 seconds or until you have a smooth dough.
  • Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  The dough can remain refrigerated overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • You can roll out the dough (1/2 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface and use a very small (1 inch) round cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. OR using a tablespoon measure, pull out a small amount of dough and using your hands turn the dough into a small round ball and place on the baking sheet.
  • Keep the cookies about an inch apart to make sure they don’t bake into one another.  The number of cookies will depend on the size of the cookies you created.
  • Press each cookie down to make sure they are flat and using a fork make indentations on the cookies (much like traditional peanut butter cookies).
  • Sprinkle half of the cookies with poppy seeds and the other half with pistachios and rose petals.
  • Bake in the oven for up to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.
  • Caution:  These cookies are quite brittle and crumbly when they come out of the oven.  Remove from the oven, leave on the cookie sheet until completely cooled. 
  • Once cooled, remove from the baking pan and keep them in an airtight container and refrigerate for freshness. 

Notes

I keep the butter chilled since I use a food processor to prepare the dough.  Traditionally room temperature butter or ghee or Roghan Kermanshahi (a special cooking fat from the city of Kermanshah)  would have been used which would allow for better mixing of the ingredients, since most food preparations were done by hand and not in a food processor.
I also prefer using brown rice flour, though white rice flour is more traditional. 

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