Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

Algerian Brâdj are diamond-shaped date paste filled semolina cookies. They are also called Mbardja or Lembraj and are often made to mark the coming of spring. As these Bradj are naturally sweetened by the date paste, they melt in the mouth and fill you up easily when served with a glass of fresh milk or laban.
Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

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 Algerian food and even stocked up some couscous which is still unopened. For now, I made these Bradj, very popular semolina dates cookie that is so easy to make and eat! 

The 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 dearth of resources for recipes and umpteen variations on the internet - Google, Pinterest, fellow bloggers etc.

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

Algeria is a North African country officially called the 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 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. But today it is all about these semolina cookies - Bradj.

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 spiced date paste between semolina dough 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 how to make Algerian Brâdj without messing at the counter.

Adapted from: Algerian Kitchen 

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

INGREDIENTS

For the Semolina dough:
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water (you may use rose water)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water (roughly and depends on the kind of semolina you use)
For the 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 softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water (you may use rose water)

METHOD

  1. Prepare the Semolina dough: 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 breadcrumbs. Stir in the orange blossom water and mix thoroughly. Add just enough water to bring it together to form a dough. Divide the dough into two equal balls. (the date dough has to be the same size as one half of this semolina dough) 
  2. Prepare the Date dough: In a small ball mix all the date dough ingredients (date paste, butter, cinnamon powder, sesame seeds and orange blossom water) until you have a soft, non-sticky date paste dough. 
  3. Roll Semolina dough balls: Take a ziplock bag and tear it open into two equal-sized sheets or you can use baking paper or similar plastic sheets. Place one semolina dough ball on one of the sheets and close it with the other piece. Start pressing the dough with your palms to form a neat shape of round and keep it aside. Repeat the same for the other portion of the semolina dough.
  4. Roll Date Paste dough: Use another ziplock bag and tear it open into two equal-sized sheets or you can use baking paper or similar plastic sheets. Keep the dates paste on one sheet and close it with the other. Start pressing it with hand or with a rolling pin to the same shape and size as the above semolina dough and keep it aside. 
  5. Assemble, Roll, and Cut: Remove the top sheet of one of the rolled semolina dough. Remove and place the rolled date paste over this. Lastly, place the other rolled semolina dough over the date paste. Roll the layered cookie to your desired thickness, preferably at least 1/4 to 3/4 inch.  Cut the flattened Brâdj into diamond shapes.
  6. Pan toast the cookies Brâdj: Heat a flat thick bottomed pan. Carefully, transfer each bradj onto the hot pan. You can use a knife to slide and lift each bradj. OR take the board and slide the contents onto the pan carefully. 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. Serve with black tea or milk or laban.
Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina

One cup of semolina was too much for the two of us, but it can be stored at room temperature for many days and all the Bradj got over in a week. 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 them into any shape you want!

Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies | Dates and Semolina


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 this post inspires you to cook out of your comfort zone!

I have some loved North African recipes that you should go check! 

TRIED THIS RECIPE? 

I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchaai so that I can see your creations!

Comments

  1. I am so inspired to follow your globecooking series for myself. Its a great way to be introduced to different cuisines. One of my friends here is Algerian and she recently introduced me to Ras el hanout when she added to a dish she cooked. Love how easy and delicious these algerian bradj sound and look. Next time I meet my friend I will boast about knowing more about her cuisine.

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  2. Hey Shumaila! I know quiet a few people who have dedicated to similar series. I chose to do this to learn and try different cuisines as there are enough and more blogs catering to Indian food with great photography too ;-) This is just to fill the void after quitting a full-time job - helps me to have something to focus on Lol! Of course you should boast about your new knowledge and also get the recipe for Ras el hanout! :-P

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  3. Rafeeda A. RaheemMarch 26, 2021 at 5:05 PM

    This would have tasted amazing! The dough and the filling all sounds so delicious.. While trying to learn a new cuisine, it is like as though sinking into the ocean, right? :) Totally love your efforts to share more and inspire... :)

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  4. Its been some time , I hopped to see what's cooking new,
    enthayallum puthya vibavam kannum :-)
    I read the whole post and thoroughly enjoyed it!
    Travelling around the world virtually andt the recipes are awesome.
    And your clicks are mind blowing . Calm and devine.

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  5. Looks so exotic. My heart warms to recipes that uses ingredients I'm familiar with. I'd love to try this out some day. A tea-time snack couldn't be better!:) And lovely shots too!

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  6. This one sounds so interesting and your photo with the center flower is beautiful. Is that made of the date paste? I also have made Ras el hanout. It is such a wonderful spice blend.

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  7. this would have tasted great...nice share from algeria

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  8. Lovely cookies,with all those easily available ingredients...And also came to know about a new recipe :)

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