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Recipe: Middle Eastern Date Rolls

I promised ethnic foods and here’s the first of many to come! My mom baked these the day before we arrived in Jordan. We love dates, especially my son. And I don’t mind–they are a super fruit.

This dough and date combo can be done many ways. Circles, layers, or rolls. These rolls are the perfect addition to a cup of tea, coffee, or milk. With the addition of seeds and whole wheat flour, fiber content is higher than your traditional cookies. Oh, and let me not forget to mention that it’s made with olive oil and no sugar was added!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white flour –my mom uses liquid measuring cups when measuring flour, so do that or adjust if you are using dry measuring cups
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp ground anise
  • 2 tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp black seeds
  • 1/3 c sesame seeds
  • 1 c olive oil
  • 2 c lukewarm water
  • 2 lbs soft dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground anise

If you have access to Middle Eastern store, these baking dates contain just dates (no sugar or preservatives) and are a cheaper alternative to fresh dates

Mix the dry ingredients up to the sesame seeds. Add the oil and mix until well coated. Slowly add water and use your hands to make a soft dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky.

Mix the dates with cinnamon, fennel, anise, and a little bit more olive oil. If the dates are tough, microwave until soft and use your hands to make a ball-like dough.

Take large handfuls of the flour dough, roll less than 1/8 inch thick (you may want to use parchment paper to move the dough around) and about 5-6 inches wide. Roll the dates to a match the dough size and thickness.

Once you have the date sheet on top of the dough, fold to make the roll. Slice, about 1 inch thick, and place on a non-greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 F until bottom is golden. Broil until top is golden.

Allow to cool.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nicole, RD May 25, 2010, 12:28 pm

    Those look woooonderful! Are black seeds just poppyseeds? Or what seed would work?

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD May 25, 2010, 8:02 pm

      They look exactly like sesame seeds but are black. It’s called Izha in Arabic and found in most Middle Eastern stores. Maybe try Chinese/Korean? If you can’t find it, that’s ok. You can skip it and the recipe would be just fine.

  • shayma May 25, 2010, 8:02 pm

    i learnt maamoul from Claudia Roden (her book!) and make them a lot- what are these called in Arabic? they are *gorgeous*. x shayma

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD May 27, 2010, 6:32 am

    From what I know people do in Jordan and Palestine cooking, Maamoul is made with semolina flour and lots of butter, and can be stuffed with walnuts, pistachios, or dates, so it can be called walnut maamoul, pistachio maamoul, or date maamoul.
    These here are made with flour and olive oil. My family calls them Ka’ek Masri (Egyptian cookies/cakes). I don’t know if they are really Egyptian or if that’s the just the name. The original shape is to make them into individual circles (like donuts but much smaller) stuffed with dates. People then start to make new shapes and be more artistic, so this is what these are.

    • Zahraa July 14, 2013, 8:33 am

      Salaams And Ramadan Kareem!
      This recipe is similar to the one used to make Iraqi Keleitcha, and in fact the same shape you’ve used. I have started to substitute the recipe with organic coconut oil and the Keleitcha turns out moist and smells Devine.
      Thanks so much for sharing your recipes!

      Zahraa

      • Nour Zibdeh July 30, 2013, 10:00 am

        Thanks Zahraa.. interesting, I might try it with coconut oil 🙂