Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Makroud (Sugarless~ Moroccan Semolina-Date Cookies)

Makroud/ Makrout - Moroccon Sugar-free, Gluten Free Date & Semolina Cookies

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka waka eh eh
Tsamina mina zangalewa
This time for Africa

The lyrics above are from Colombian singer Shakira's super duper popular number Waka Waka, the paragraph basically cheers Africa, which hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Though the above song was sung for the country of South Africa, I'm using some artistic liberties and applying it to cheer for the continent of Africa, for today's recipe pays homage to a very popular North African cookie. The Makroud.

The word Makroud in North African languages simply means 'diamond shaped' for that is the traditional shape that these delightful cookies are made in.

Call it age, call it a call of my roots but time and again I'm drawn to recipes and ingredients that are native to the country of Persia - for there is where our Zoroastrian forefathers lived 1800+ years ago. (modern day Iran), thus I occasionally have strong cravings for ingredients like pistachios, dates, semolina and rose water. (weird but true).

Last week as I type searched in the above mentioned ingredients a lovely recipe for Middle Eastern Ma'amoul cookies was what I repeatedly found and though very beautiful to look at, these cookies had to rest their dough for a minimum of 7 hrs. Now this kind of two batch work on a recipe is not my cup of tea at present (I have my hands more than full with a feisty 3 year old). Upon further searching I came across this North African (think Morrocco, Algeria) cookie - The Makroud which had almost 90% of ingredients similar to the Ma'amoul cookies but only had 30 mins resting time for the dough.

Makroud a.k.a Makrout is a North African pastry eaten in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and in some parts of Libya. The dough is made mainly of semolina, not flour, which gives the pastry a very specific texture and flavor.

Some sources say that its origins are from the oases of Mzab and the steppes of Setif in Algeria and others say that its story would be linked to the city of Kairouan, spiritual capital of Tunisia, a city ​​that actually hosted the first national Makroud festival on May 20, 2008.

Traditionally, Makroud is composed of a dough made of semolina that is most commonly filled with dates but also figs or almonds. Of course, there are various recipes: some are baked or fried in oil, while others contain almonds or sesame seeds. In any case, the classic recipe remains pretty much the same everywhere. It is then rolled and cut in diamond shapes. The pastry is then dipped in a honey syrup made from sugar and lemon or orange blossom water.

A must mention here is that since these cookies are made of coarse semolina, the dough needs to absorb the liquid ingredients to become pliable, hence resting time is imperative.

Mum, what is thissh?

On to the recipe now
Makes: 30-40 cookies

You will need:

1 1/2 cups (250g) fine or medium semolina
1/3 cup (70g) softened butter
2 tbsp rose water OR orange flower water if available.
250 gms date paste (See Step 2)
50 gms pistachio nuts.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon rosewater


Step 1: Making the dough
- Place the semolina in a large dish and using the tips of your fingers, mix it with the softened butter until each grain of semolina is well coated

- Add a little bit of the rose or orange blossom water to the semolina and mix well until you get a soft dough

- Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour

Step 2: Making the date filling
- Steam pitted (wet) dates in a colander over boiling water for 20 mins.
- Once cool make a puree of the same in the chutney grinder of your blender, add a little water if required.
- Add in cinnamon powder.
- The paste must resemble 'play doh'' any softer and it will keep oozing out at the time of filling the cookies.
- Add in chopped pistachios or any chopped nuts of your choice, and mix well.

- The filling is ready! Divide the date paste into 2 portions.
- Oil your hands and roll each portion into a log about the thickness of your finger

Step 3: Shaping the Makroud
- Take half of the dough, and shape it into a log as long as the date paste log.

- Flatten the dough and insert the date paste log in the center
- Pinch the dough around the date paste, then roll the entire log a few times on your workstation to seal it completely
- Slice the log with diagonal cuts into bite size chunks

Step 4: Baking the makroud
- Transfer the makroud on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 360 F / 180 C for 30-40 minutes or until the makroud have a beautiful deep golden brown color.
- As soon as your remove the makroud from the oven, dip in a thick mix of honey, water and rose water (or orange flower water if using.)

- Let the makroud cool down for several hours before serving them.



  1. Wow !! Lovely recipe and a nice writeup ")...loved the Waka waka bit :):)

    1. Hahha.Thank you my friend. You must try these someday. Texture is very different from anything that we are used to having.

  2. Hi I tried to make it. I was able to get a dough ball with the semolina and also left it for an hour though when I tried to roll it and stuff the filling it would keep breaking / cracking. Can you suggest what I could do when I try it again ?


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