No Iraqi can mark a special occasion, like Eid, without this smooth date paste, wrapped in cardamom infused dough.
It doesn’t matter if you’re welcoming 10 or 50 guests, a big batch is always the way to go – although those biscuits would never hang around that long. Unlike maamoul, its more famous cookie cousin from the Levant, Kleicha dough has no semolina.
These are good for a week in an airtight container or can be frozen once baked and then de-frosted at room temperature.
Traditionally, kleicha is served with warm brewed tea or Arab coffee: sit back, relax and savour the moment!
5 cups plain flour
1 cup butter/margarine, melted
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
3 cups date paste
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup ground pistachio
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp oat milk
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Mix until combined. Form a well in the centre of the flour and add in the butter. While kneading, pour in the water gradually and knead to obtain a soft, slightly moist and homogeneous dough. This should take around 5-10 minutes. Patience is key!
Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rise for one hour in a warm place for an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the date filling. In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil and add the date paste. It should start to soften; this is when you add the ground cardamom. Continue stirring for 5 minutes until obtaining a smooth texture that can easily be spread and rolled.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into two. On a large sheet of parchment paper, spread the first dough in a rectangle using a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick.
Similarly, place the date paste between two large sheets of parchment paper and spread it about the same size as the dough, using a rolling pin. Place it onto the dough. Garnish evenly with pistachio.
Starting from the largest part of the rectangle, roll it on itself, tightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolk and brush the surface of the log you made with this mixture. Cut 1/2 inch thick slices, slicing at the centre first and then into more small pieces.
Place the slices on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, with the opening facing down. Bake for 20 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and allow to cool before serving!