Traditional Moroccan Cookies

Ghoriba Bahla cookies are traditional or beldi biscuits, usually enjoyed with mint tea.

At a glance, the recipe and the process of making these delicious treats is seemingly very simple.

I can assure you that it takes practice to perfect the flavour, consistency and technique!
In this article, our friend is making a batch of the cookies to order. She has been making patisserie for many years now, and it is now her paid profession.

So here goes…

The ingredients that you must have to hand are as follows; cinnamon, yeast, nutmeg, icing sugar, flour, baking soda and vegetable oil, unhulled sesame seeds.

First of all, take a large ceramic bread platter for mixing (or a standard mixing bowl will do the trick). In it, place 1 kilo of flour, 1/2 kilo sesame seeds and 4 tablespoons of baking powder, before mixing with your hands.

In a smaller dish prepare a combination of the cinnamon, yeast, nutmeg powder and icing sugar. These spices can be added to taste, but it is recommended that you are generous with them as their flavours will be muted somewhat by the flour. You can add this to the top of the flour and cinnamon blend & mix.

Now, gradually add the vegetable oil. You will need to use 1/2 a litre of the oil in total, to 1 kilo of flour. Keep kneading the mixture by hand as you add the oil.
Generally this recipe requires a lot of kneading to get to the right consistency, which is not too oily – just enough to stick to itself.

Leave the dough for 10 minutes, and allow the yeast to activate.

It gets a little more tricky here, as it is time to shape the biscuits. They are once again beaten by hand; which is a very rhythmic process. To start you must make equally sized balls of the dough & then flatten each with the flat palms of your hands. A true master does this to perfection and each cookie is made to the same beat, like music. She tells us that it’s good to think of someone you don’t like as you do this!

The flattened cookies are placed on a molded baking sheet which yields cookies with a concave mounds. You could use an upside down muffin tray, and it would have a similar effect, or a standard baking sheet will do. A batch using 1 kilo of flour, should make approximately 80 cookies.


Now you can bake the cookies, for 10 minutes on a high heat!


Voila, perfect Moroccan shortbread biscuits. As served with tea at all Marrakech riads