Persian Rice Cookies / Nane Berenji
I don't remember the first time that I made Persian rice cookies or as we say in Farsi Nane-Berenji, but I remember the aroma of rose water and saffron, the softness of the cookies, and how quickly they melted in my mouth. I also remember how difficult it was to make them.
Nane Berenji is one of the most common pastries in Iran, every pastry shop carries a form of nane-berenji, but good quality nane berenji is hard to find.
Mom had always baked Nane-Berenji for Nowruz. I remember it required some pre-work since mom would never buy the rice flour from the market. She preferred to make her own rice flour using the best quality rice. The process was long and time consuming for an impatient child like me. She used to wash the rice, spread it on a large piece of fabric/Sofreh to dry. After the rice was completely dried, dad would take the rice to the grinding shop. In Iran, we have designated shops with large grinders and they grind everything from chickpeas to rice, to rose petals and spices.
Once the flour was ready, my nanny was in charge of sifting the five kilograms of flour through a very thin fabric, a process that my mom was very adamant about. I would complain that the flour is just fine as it is, why do we need to sift it again, mom would say: "The finer the flour, the softer the cookies." remember that!! I remember how after kneading the dough for 30 minutes, I would ask mom to add more oil saying: "this dough is not coming together, I think your recipe is wrong". She would smile and gently said you're almost there. And sure enough the dough would come together every time.
Nowadays there is no need for kneading as the food processors have made the job much easier, but I have to say the cookies are not as soft and tender as when mom used to make them.
Persian Rice Cookies/Nane-Berenji
Yields: 50+ cookies Bake time: 8-10 minutes
- 250g (1 1/2 cup) rice flour
- 125g ( 1 cup+ 2 tbsp) powdered sugar
- 112g (1/2 cup) butter; softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tbsp rose water
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp brewed saffron
- 20g (2 tbsp) black poppy seeds
- Pre-heat the oven to 300°F & cover the baking tray with parchment paper & set aside
- In a food processor mix the egg yolk, sugar, and softened butter together until smooth, add rose water, cardamom powder, and rice flour & mix until you have a soft dough
- Bring the dough together and use the heel of your palm to repeatedly push down on the dough and fold it in on itself until it's smooth.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, dust your work surface with rice flour and roll out your dough to a half inch thick, use a round cookie cutter to cut the dough and press with a cookie mold
- Use a food-safe brush to decorate the middle of the cookies with saffron, sprinkle the tops with poppy seeds, place on the baking tray leaving an inch in between, bake for 300°F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before moving them, keep them in an air tight container & place in the fridge.
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