Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Here I am with my fourth country for #globecookingmad and that is Algeria! It is almost two months since I made Kime me veze for Albania. How time flies! I had started researching on Algerian food and even stocked up some couscous which is still unopened. It somehow took this long for me to cook up and then longer to blog about it. I keep reminding myself to get drafting this post and here I am sitting and writing up in fear that I might forget the little details!

Algerian food world is so vast! I just could not make up my mind on one thing. Be it savoury or sweet, they have a lot of options and very interesting ones. I was so drawn to make Mkhabez (Pecan Cookies), Kaak el NakacheChorba Bayda, Twabaa, Tamina, Braid Algerian Griwech, the list is never ending.. unlike Albania, there is no derth of resources for recipes and umpteen variations on the internet - Google, Pinterest, fellow bloggers etc. The only thing that was lacking was the my meeting with the right time and right mood! :-)

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

Algeria is a North African country officially called People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. Like India, Algerian cuisine also differs from region to region and they cook mostly with lamb and seafood. Some of their dishes are influenced by the French and Turkish and even Spanish. And just like we Indians have garam masala spice blend, Algeria's spice mix is Ras el hanout. I can go on and on about their food because their ingredients are easy to get and ones that we are familiar with.

During this time I came across some lovely blogs and youtube channels that were loaded with Algerian recipes. And while I had planned on making Kesra which is a flat bread, I got so confused with numerous variations the internet has and I just couldn't make up my mind on which one way to try!  Then I came across youtube by Fatemahisokay about Bradj. As soon as I noticed it has semolina, date paste and cooked on tawa - what more do I need on a lazy Friday! Off I went and made it right then! It seemed super easy until I got my hand on to make them. But I had to look out for more videos and then adapted the procedure used in another youtube video. Making Brâdj just needs lot of patience and space.

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

Algerian Brâdj is traditionally prepared on clay with charcoal but I have used our modern non-stick pan!. The whole process includes sandwiching dates mix between semolina mix and cooking on a flat pan. There is no sugar in this recipe but the sweetness comes from the date paste!

I have tried to explain in detail on how to make Algerian Brâdj without making a mess at the counter.

Adapted from : Algerian Kitchen 

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

INGREDIENTS:

Semolina Dough
1 cup fine semolina
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water
1/2 cup water (roughly and depends on the kind of semolina you use)

Dates Dough
Roughly 3/4 cup dates paste (if you don't get dates paste, just soak dates overnight and make a paste with very little water and oil)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water

METHOD:

Prepare the Semolina Dough
  1. In a wide mouthed shallow tray add the semolina and the salt. Pour in the melted butter and start to rub the mixture between your hands until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs 
  2. Tip in the orange blossom water and give a thorough mix and start adding the water and bring together to form a dough 
  3. Divide the dough into two equal balls. - (now your date dough has to be the same size as one half of this semolina dough) 
Prepare the Date paste Mix

  1. In a small ball, mix the dates paste with cinnamon, orange blossom water, and butter until you have a soft and smooth spreadable paste.

Roll one ball of Semolina Dough

  1. Take a freezer bag and tear open the closed end and one side of the bag to form a big rectangle sheet. Place the first semolina dough ball on one side of the sheet and close it with the other end. 
  2. Start pressing the dough hands to form a neat shape of round or rectangle. 
  3. Keep this aside. 

Roll Date Paste dough

  1. Make another freezer bag or any zip lock bag similar to the above.  
  2. Keep the dates paste on one side and close it with the other end and start pressing it with hand or rolling pin to the same shape and size as of the above semolina dough. 
  3. Keep aside. 

Assemble, Roll, and Cut

  1. Now, take rolled semolina dough and open the sheet. Remove the rolled dates paste mix and place it over this rolled semolina. 
  2. Then take the second semolina dough ball and break them as crumbles over the top of the dates mix. Gently spread it across the layer and close it with the other end of the plastic sheet. 
  3. Start rolling to your desired thickness, preferably at least 1/4 to 3/4 inch.  
  4. Cut the flattened Brâdj into diamond shapes.

Cook the Brâdj 

  1. Heat a flat tawa or pan. 
  2. You can choose to pick each bradj and place it on the hot tawa or take a big plate and slid down all the cut bradj on to the plate carefully and slide them on to the hot tawa. This just saved time and also kept the shape intact. 
  3. Use a blunt spatula or spoon to flip each bradj and cook until golden brown. As and when each gets done, transfer them to a flat plate and let it cool. 
  4. Serve with black tea or milk


Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

One cup of semolina was too much for two of us, but it can be stored in room temperature for many days and all the Bradj got over in a weeks time. As it is a marriage of semolina, dates, and butter - it fills you up soon and keeps hunger at bay. If you don't like or don't have orange blossom water, you can add your choice of flavour to the dates dough. Brâdj means diamonds but you can cut in any shape you want!

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

For more variations here are some links I loved:
the teal tadjine
la petite paniere

I want to stay back here for some more time to cook and experience a few more Algerian lip-smacking food! and then move on to cook a recipe home to Andorra!

So, where is Algeria?


Have a great week ahead! And hope my these post inspires you to cook out of your comfort-zone! 

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