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Celebrate Eid with these traditional Iraqi pastries!

Kleicha is a date pastry, spiced with cardamom and walnutsusually served during religious holidays in Iraq. Iraqi Christians serve them during Christmas and Easter and Iraqi Muslims serve them during Eid.  

Growing up, I remember waking up in the morning and helping my mum bake trays of them and give them out to neighbours, family and friends. I loved sneaking a few mouthfuls when they were still warm.  And they are the perfect combination of sweetdoughy and fragrant. It is sure to bring the biggest smile to your face, especially on Eid morning after a month of fasting! 

These date pastries are popular across the Middle East in various varieties but here is my family recipe and how to make it. 

Ingredients

For the dough:  

  • 3 cups of flour 
  • ¾ cup of oil 
  • 3/4 cup of warm water 
  • 1 tsp baking powder  
  • ½ tsp of salt  

For the filling:

  • 1 cup of pressed dates 
  • 1 tablespoons of crushed walnuts 
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered cardamom  
  • ¼ cup of oil  
Method:
The pastry and the dates have to be prepared separately first

To make the pastry:

  • In a bowl, add the dry ingredients first.  
  • Dig a well in the middle of the flour and add in the oil. 
  • Knead slowly for a few minutes and gradually add the water in. 
  • Knead to get a soft, slightly moist and homogeneous dough. 
  • If necessary, add a little extra water if the dough is too hard or, on the contrary, a little flour if it is too sticky. 
  • And leave to set. 

Alternatively, you can use a shop-bought short-crust pastry if you prefer. 


To make the date filling: 
  • Remove date pits. 
  • Place in a pan with the oil, walnuts and cardamom and cook on low heat while mixing. 
  • Cook until fairly smooth and soft consistency to create a paste-like mixture. 

To assemble the Kleicha:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees for a fan assisted oven. 
  • Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll them out onto parchment paper, into half centimetre thickness.  
  • Spread the date paste until the surface is covered. 
  • Roll the dough into a long rectangular shape and cut into small circular shapes. Or fold the dough in half a cut into any other shapes. 
  •  Do the same with all the dough and the dates. 
  • Place the slices on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. 
  • Leave to cool and serve with a cup of black tea, the Iraqi way! 

Enjoy and Eid Mubarak! 

 

Picture credit: Faisal1904, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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