Even as a young girl, I was always drawn to the exotic. I loved watching the elephant riders at the circus, dressed in Balinese gold-embroidered choli tops and harem pants. They perched atop those giant creatures, and swayed with the rhythm.
Going to the circus was my absolute favorite treat when I was young. Of course, when I had the opportunity to ride an elephant myself, I chickened out.
Okay, okay, you caught me. I cried my eyes out, terrified of falling off that great height.
I mean, come on. I was three years old. But I do still remember thinking, “I can do this. I can be beautiful and exotic like the elephant riders,” and then when the circus attendant actually put me astride the elephant, I cried again, shaking my head so hard, tears and snot flew in every direction.
When I was in my early 20s, I started tribal belly dancing.
I would walk into the studio after work, giant bag of costume accessories on my shoulder, and immediately be enveloped by the scent of nag champa incense, cardamom oil, patchouli.
I loved that time in my life, in part for the costumes (coin belts! fringe scarves! zills!) but also for the sense of being a part of something bigger than myself. The community of women I met there were wonderful—supportive, encouraging, funny, creative—but when I started moving up the levels in class, it meant more of a time commitment, and practice until 11pm each night, and a 40 minute drive home, and an early wakeup for work the next day.
And I was more focused on doing the beautiful, flowy moves “correctly,” and having proper arm position than I was on feeling the music and enjoying myself.
Naturally, that means I baked up a storm, and took treats to all our neighbors. Needless to say, we’re all on good terms with them!
Farzeneh, my lovely neighbor behind me, is originally from Iran. She invites us to dinner every now and then, and while I would love to reciprocate and have her over, I love her cooking even more! (My stomach is selfish and greedy. And Farz is a GREAT cook!)
The last time we went over, she made stewed lamb shanks, tadiz (which is a baked rice dish with a crispy potato crust), and an addictive salad, with a lemon vinaigrette, persimmon chunks, avocado, pomegranate jewels, and plenty of home-grown fennel seed.
I swear, I could eat that meal every day and not get tired of it. Especially that salad. YUM!
I brought dessert. It wasn’t these cookies, but she’s having another dinner party next week and I offered to bring some sort of sweet tea biscuit. I didn’t already have a recipe under my repertoire, so this was my opportunity to start creating. I think I’ll make another batch and bring them over next week.
Cardamom, like cilantro, can be really polarizing. Most people either love it or hate it.
I took the concept behind my Persian Love Cakes and transformed it into Persian Tea Cookies.
Scented with cardamom and a little rose oil, these crunchy little tea biscuits are perfect with a cup of Persian Rose tea (or any tea, really). They’re buttery and crunchy, a lot like a sable, with a hint of pistachio, cardamom, and rose.
Then, I went a step further and half-dipped them in chocolate, and garnished them with dried rose petals.
One thing I want to say is that I often try to make my recipes as easy as possible for you guys. And to me, easy means measuring by volume (1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, etc). BUT the most accurate way to bake will ALWAYS be by weight (and I prefer grams over ounces). Get yourself an inexpensive kitchen scale. You will be able to make way more accurate substitutions (E.g., walnuts instead of pistachios; cassava flour instead of millet flour…) and your baking will be more consistent.
Okay, that’s all. Get in the kitchen! And let me know what you think.
- 225 g butter
- 188 g sugar
- 125 g millet flour
- 150 g sweet white rice flour
- 100 g potato starch
- 2 large eggs
- 75 ground pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon rosewater
- Dark Chocolater for dipping
- dried rose petals for garnish
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons ground pistachios
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar.
- Add the eggs and blend until combined.
- Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and restart the mixer to make sure you don't have any butter lumps.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking pans with parchment paper.
- Drop by the teaspoon or scoop onto baking pans. The cookies should be about the size of walnut shells. Gently press down to flatten.
- If using the rose petal garnish (and not dipping them in chocolate), brush the tops of each cookie with a little water, and sprinkle with sugar. Press a couple dried rose petals onto the cookies. If you're dipping the cookies in chocolate, you can skip this step.
- Bake until golden at the edges, about 23 minutes.
- Let cool completely.
- If dipping in chocolate, melt 1 cup dark chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval.
- When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, dip or brush over part of each cookie and return cookie to baking sheet until the chocolate sets.
- These cookies freeze INCREDIBLY well, in case you decide to double the batch!