Aqras Helweh | Syrian Sweet Cookies

Long, long ago where there were no technologies / appliances to make life easy,people found a way to manage the situation with some brilliant ideas.

When it came to travel food we people across the globe cooked / preserved food in a method that it would last a while.

This recipe is one such dish from Syria that was taken along when people went on long journeys ,the time when camel was the main mode of transportation. It stayed good for long and the weary travelers used to  much on their travels.

I made this along with the Sharab Tamr Hendi for the MENA cooking club. This is like a huge crunchy cookie with beautiful sesame flavor.

We were given these three dishes

Drink: Sharab Tamr Hendi
Main: Oven Potato with Lemon, Garlic and Oil
Sweet: Aqras Helweh

I made the drink and the sweet for the cooking club.

The original recipe uses Baker's ammonia which is ammonium carbonate and was used as a leavening agent in olden days.It is said to be the predecessor of the modern days leavening agents.It is also used to give extra crispness to cookies and crackers. I could not get it here so I substituted it with baking powder.

Also gound mahlab is used in the original recipe. I don't get that either, so I left it out.

Traditionally a tool called Manqash Aqras is used to poke holes on the cookies and is also one of the reasons this cookie got the name.I used a fork.

I added the sugar as such, but I think it will be better if it was measured, powdered and then added.

I used:
Adapted from: Orange Blossom Water
Makes- 6 - 8 cookies

Whole wheat flour- 2 cups
Ghee- 1/4 cup,melted
Baking powder- 1/4 teaspoon
Sugar- 1/2 cups
Instant yeast- 1/2 teaspoon
Warm water- a little less than 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds- 1/2 cup

Take the flour,sugar,yeast baking powder, ghee in a bowl. Rub with finger tips to get a sandy texture.

Add water little by little and knead to a smooth dough.Cover and set aside for 2 hours. I placed it in a greased bowl.After 2 hours, knead very well for 10 minutes and pinch out 65 gram balls.

Roll out into small circles and press one side on a plate with sesame seeds.

Roll out on the side covered with sesame seeds into a thin circle of 15cms diameter . Poke holes with a fork and place on a tray lined with baking sheet / aluminum foil.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes or till brown in color.Leave it on the tray for 10 minutes and remove onto a cooling rack. It will be soft as soon as it comes out of the oven.But will get crisp on standing. Once it is cooled and crisp, serve / store in an airtight container.

This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2015 


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