Ka’ab El Ghazal: Egyptian Date Filled Cookies: كعب الغزال

I would not trade my foodie tribe for anything. 

Under the lockdown, I came to appreciate the value of the virtual foodie community, who I never met in person. Yet thanks to our passion for food, our bonds are growing tighter. 

When I lost my father during the lockdown last spring, my foodie tribe overwhelmed me with unexpected love and care.  

Marlyne @marlynesalama is one of those wonderful Instagram foodies and friends, who I have the pleasure to host on my blog today.

My dear blog guest is sharing the recipe of a traditional Egyptian cookie: Ka’ab el Ghazal. These cookies have a flaky crust, encasing delicious date filling.

Kabab Al Ghazal literally translates to “Deer heel” which alludes to how polished and soft these cookies are.  In Egypt, the same cookies are found under different names, such as minen منين and Bascot bel Agwa.  بسكوت بالعجوة

Now, I will leave you with Marlyne to introduce herself and share her recipe.

____
Hi, I am Marlyne Salama. Egyptian of Lebanese decent. I am born and raised in Egypt, yet immigrated with my family to Melbourne, Australia in 2012.

I’m a full time working mom of two children who are twenty and eleven years old, 

For two decades, I have been working  in a mega multinational freight forwarder company. Luckily, I was transferred from the Cairo branch to Melbourne branch when I immigrated with my family to Australia.

My passion is to cook festive dishes and host friends and family.  I learned plenty from my mother who is a seasoned home-cook.  

Growing up in Cairo, we had a neighbor with the nickname of Teta Loulou.  She was an expert baker. Her speciality was traditional Egyptian cookies such as Karakeesh, Kaab El Ghazal, Abou Agwah, Meneen, Feteer El Malak and more.

My mom learned a great deal from our wonderful Egyptian neighbor and fortunately, she passed that knowledge to me. 

I frequently bake these vegan date filled cookies when I observe Coptic orthodox fasting when we abstain from dairy and meat products. That said, you can easily convert these cookies to non-vegan cookies, if you use regular butter instead of vegan ones. 

In my household, I cook traditional Egyptian and Lebanese food to keep my family, especially my kids, connected to their roots. A person without culture and tradition has seldom a legacy to be remembered and cherished by future generations.

Enjoy my recipe of Kabab Al Ghazal Cookies. For more recipes of my Lebanese-Egyptian heritage, check my Instagram account @marlynesalama.

I would be delighted to hear your feedback on your recipes in the comments below. 

Bon Appetit!


Ka’ab Al Ghazal: Date Filled Cookies 

Recipe credit to Ms. Marlyne Salama 

Makes 40-50 cookies 

INGREDIENTS

Cookie Shell 

  • 4 cups of sifted flour
  • 1 tablespoon bread Improver (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of any vegetable oil, warm
  • 1/2 cup of vegan spread/butter, melted & warm

Agwa (The Date Filling)

  • 500 grams date mince
  • 2 tablespoons butter, vegan or regular 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame

    DIRECTIONS
  1. Make the date filling. Place all the ingredients in a pan on the stove on low heat and mix well until they soften. Agwa has to be soft, smooth, and lump-free and not sticking to you fingers.
  2. Proof the yeast. Place the yeast, one tablespoon of sugar, and 1/4 cup of lukewarm water in a mixing bowl. Mix them well, then cover with plastic film and wrap with a tea towel and leave it to prove for 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes bubbly, that means that your yeast is active and good to use, if not, discard and use another yeast.
  3. Make the dough. First, mix all the dry ingredients: flour, bread Improver (if used), salt, sugar, anise seeds, fennel seeds and sesame seeds together in a large electric mixer bowl fitted with the bread hook. Run the mixer on low speed and slowly add the warm oil, then the melted, warm vegan butter. When it’s all combined you will find the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Keep the same low speed of mixer and gradually add the yeast-water mixture, then increase the speed. Check the softness of the dough as you go. If the dough is still dry, slowly add the remaining lukewarm water until the dough comes together. The dough shouldn’t be sticky, it has to be smooth and stretchy.
    Transfer the dough to a clean blown brushed with oil, cover with plastic wrap, then a clean tea towel and place it in a warm place for at least 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.
  4. Shape the dough. When the dough is doubled in size, transfer to your kitchen counter dusted with flour and kneed it for two minutes. Now it’s time to fill the dough and cut it into 4 portions. Shape each portion into a ball, place all the balls on a dish and cover for the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Using your hands, roll each ball into a long cylinder. Then use a rolling pin to stretch the dough until it is evenly flattened with a width of 10 cm. Spread the date paste (recipe follows) over the dough, then with the palm of your hands roll it as a swissroll. Make sure to stick the edge of the last layer to the filling .
    Slice the log with a sharp knife into equal cookies pieces, the size you want.
    Place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and leave them to rest for another 30 minutes in a warm place.
  5. Bake the cookies. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Fan Forced). Brush Kaab El Ghazal cookies with oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top (optional), then place them into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden and crisp.  Remove from oven and let them to cool completely at room temperature.
  6. Serve. These cookies are great for snacks, but a true delight when they accompany a hot cup of cardamom coffee or mint tea. 
  7. Store those cookies in airtight containers.  They will remain fresh for 5-7 days. You can also freeze them after they are baked and reheat them in the oven/toaster before serving. 

NOTES 

  • To mix the dough, you can possibly make it with hands, so no need to use an electric mixer
  • While making the dough, you might not use all the water depending on the flour. If the dough is too soft, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough reaches the right consistency. 
  • Using a mix of oil and butter will make the biscuit crispy. Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of vegan butter.
  • Do not over fill the dough with Agwa (date mince) otherwise it will ooze out and burn in the oven, resulting in an undesirable, bitter taste. 
  • The longer you leave the dough to rest, the better, to get Ka’ab El Ghazal flaky.
     You can use Turkish delight instead of the Agwa (date mince). 

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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here: https://cheznermine.com/about/

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