Naan Berenji - Persian Rice Flour Cookies


Naan Berenji Kermanshahi is one of my favorite Persian sweets which is traditionally made for Nowruz (Persian New Year). Naan berenji cookies are rich with flavor and not too sweet. They are great to eat all year around and are most delicious when served with a freshly brewed cup of hot tea or coffee, especially on a cold day.


 I have wanted to write about naan berenji in the past but I must say that having bought them from different bakeries and trying several recipes myself over the years, the results were always kind of disappointing and never tasted quite like the authentic naan berenjis from Kermanshah. I don't know if I'll ever get to make these cookies taste and smell like how they tasted and smelled the first time I ate them when I visited the city of Kermanshah with my family years ago. I remember our summer trip to that region vividly. I recall the day that we approached the Bisotoon  mountain area as the sun was setting and my father was exhausted from driving for such a long time. We stopped by a ghaveh-khaneh (coffee shop), a rest area in the middle of nowhere. My father inquired about the nearest hotels or anywhere that we could spend the night and get some rest. But the given address seemed too far to to get to so the owner offered us the roof top of the ghahveh-khaneh and that's where we spent the night. The memory of us six kids going up an old and flimsy ladder one by one, laying down on just a blanket with no pillows or any sheets, staring at the sky, the moon and stars until I fell asleep is still etched in my mind. Not to mention, glancing at the nearby Bisotoon, which seemed so close towering over our heads as if it was going to fall down on us at any moment!  As a child, those family summer trips zigzagging across the country seemed exhausting, dreadful and pointless. Now, however, I am most grateful for having visited many parts of my beautiful country.


In my recent attempt,  I gave Najmieh Batmangelij's naan berenji recipe, in her A Taste Of Persia cookbook, a try and I was pleased with the results. Let's just say that when I went to do a count the next day to see how many cookies the batch of dough makes and also take some photos, there were only a few left on the plate!

Naan Berenji - Persian Rice Flour Cookies

Ingredients:
Makes about 25 cookies

3 cups rice flour
3 egg yolks
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (use good quality real butter)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract *optional

For Topping:

2 tablespoons poppy seeds or crushed pistachios

For Syrup:

1 1/2  cup white sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon rose water

Method:
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat, bring to a boil, stir well to dissolve the sugar for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for another 7-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens to one cup . Remove from heat, add the rose water and set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl mix rice flour with powdered cardamom. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs with fine sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the butter and oil and beat well until fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and the flour. Gradually add in one cup of the sugar syrup and beat well with an electric mixer/hand mixer.
  5. Place the dough in a container, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for about six hours.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment papers.
  7. Take a tablespoon of the dough, flatten into round shapes into palm of your hand and shape the surface with a cookie stamp or a teaspoon. Sprinkle some poppy seeds on top of each cookie. Place on the cookie sheet and put it in the middle rack of the oven.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently place on the cooling racks.
Transfer the cookies on a serving platter and serve with tea or coffee.

Enjoy!

37 comments:

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing this recipe! I've had a lot of trouble with this one too, they often come out pretty crumbly. I'll give this one a try next weekend.

    Noosh-e-jan!

    Ba sepaas,
    Azarakhsh

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  2. I've not made cookies with rice flour before and these sound just delicious with the cardamon and rose water. I cannot wait to try.

    The pictures from Iran are simply beautiful, I could just stare at the beauty,

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  3. I've never tried these cookies before, but I think they will pair well with my adventures with macarons.. egg whites for macarons and egg yolks for naan berenji! :)

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  4. These are so beautiful, they might easily be a Japanese treat, so delicate and elegant.
    I really wish I have the opportunity to visit Iran sooner or later, the picture you share are so amazing.

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  5. Azita Joon, I love these, they are so beautiful- just the thing to have these days with a hot cup of tea, right? hope you are going to relax with your family over the holidays. x shayma

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  6. These cookies look so delicate and delicious (cannot resist rosewater and cardamom!) They have a lovely shape, too.

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  7. have loved these cookies since i was first introduced to them several years ago. the recipe you posted is the best one --of the ones i've tried-- so far. thanks! lovely story too.

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  8. Oh Azita, these cookies are so pretty, they look so delicate and light...love the pictures as well :-)

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  9. It's so great that they're gluten free. I love rice flour. I will give them a go.

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  10. Wow! Those look so good! And so unique! I love the little marks on top too!

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  11. Azita, I was just about the make these but I couldn't figure out the quantity for the oil? Help! :)

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  12. Janet, Oops! You need: 1/2 cup of oil. I have made the correction to the recipe. Thank you!

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  13. Thank you for your speedy reply. :)

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  14. Azita

    I was also disappointed trying rice cookies at the local Persian groceries; but I had never tried Ms. Batmanglij recipe although I own two of her books. These days I am experimenting a lot with rice flour, which is used in Lebanese pastry as well and I will try your version as they look beautiful/Iran is a beautiful country and I am thankful you are showing some photos of your homeland.

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  15. Azure, I really like this cookies, my brother in law's family love to serve this each we go to their house for a visit.

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  16. Azita joon,
    What a great idea to post this recipe at this time of the year. These cookies don't normally get the credit they deserve.
    To your point about the kermanshahi taste, I think the secret is in the kermanshahi ghee, which is unfortunately unavailable to us here in the west.

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  17. MAshAllah these look so good. I will try them for sure.

    You should join our new foodie forum sis.

    http://z15.invisionfree.com/Ya_Salam_Kitchen/index.php?act=idx

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  18. How funny, I had just finished making a batch of these when I saw this post! I will be taking them to work tomorrow for our research group's weekly morning tea. That is, if there are any left by morning!

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  19. Help! The batter is more like cake batter. Can I add flour until it keeps it's shape? Also, do I not add all of the syrup?
    Thanks

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  20. Deb, yes you can add a little more flour but make sure you refrigerate it for at least 6 hours before baking. Also, if you cook the water and sugar combination further, until it becomes more thick and syrupy, then you can add the whole thing.

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  21. Dear Azita, they look very cute and I like cookies with spies but I couldn't find when I use syrup.Thank you.
    See you.

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  22. Lovely blog, Azita! I just aad it to my favorits. I have the same question as Sare: When I have to use the syrup? I want to make these cookies, Thank you!

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  23. Svetlana D, thank you! Mix all the other ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and then add the sugar syrup (step#4). Please let me know how it turns out.

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  24. I made them: http://margatyna.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post.html
    Thank you, Azita! Very tasty very delicate!

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  25. Azita, thank you for the recipe. I made the cookies yesterday. At first I was extremely disappointed- the batter melted in my hands while forming the cookies, then they "melted" in the oven losing their perfect initial shape. Finally, some of them broke while transfering to the tray... Nevertheless, their taste is awesome! Cardamon gives them a nice aroma and they just melt in the mouth. These are the only cookies I made that my sister LOVES and can't get enough!!! So I will definately make them again - this time leaving them in the fridge for a longer period of time.
    Thank you again and I really appreciate your work with providing us with such recipes!

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  26. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I had made many naan brenji with different recipe and none of them was close to what I used to taste. But this recipe is perfect. Happy cooking my dear and Thanks again for making the effort and sharing it.

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  28. Gehan, I'm sorry to hear that these cookies were a disappointment. They are not your typical cookies and they crumble easily. Perhaps adding 1-2 more eggs will make the mixture hold better.

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  29. just made this again today. this has been my go-to recipe for naan berenji since I found your post. works beautifully each time and tastes wonderful. pics from my first batches:
    -thumbprint cookies (when my daughter helps) http://www.flickr.com/photos/8571146@N05/5261406924/in/photostream
    -or using cookie cutter http://www.flickr.com/photos/8571146@N05/5280039653/in/photostream

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  30. Hello azita khanom,

    I made these last night. I use mini muffin trays, and plain trays , but did not use parchment paper. They look and taste wonderful,they are crunchy outside, slightly soft inside ?! and some are very dry , overbaked naybe? Could you tell me what the ideal texture should be when using this recepie? How do you make yours to look so uniform is shape?

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    1. Hello, you can use round cookie cutters for making uniform-sized cookies. I used a spoon. You want to mix all ingredients well but don't over mix it and only use high quality rice flour. Naan berenji has a crunchy texture. You can add a bit more oil if your mixture is too dry and let it rest for several hours.

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  31. Hi, I have been using this recipe for almost 2 years, making 1-2 batches every week for a friend's family. They are the best I am told. :-) I'd like to add a couple of comments. When I first started to make them each batch would yield different results, it's really a unique cookie recipe(to me). I always leave the batter overnight, the dough being kept in the fridge between batches. In the beginning a few times the cookies were too delicate on top and crumbled when touching them, I have never been able to apply a design to the tops, they melt away, I have played with the temperature, from 350-365 and have also left them in the oven(shut off) to cook a little more if I think they are too soft inside. remember every stove is different!

    I have also successfully played with and lowered the amount of sugar in the syrup, all the way down to 1/2 cup sugar(increasing water tho to yield 1cup total syrup. I mostly use 3/4c sugar now for the syrup unless I am making them for someone new.

    Everyone either loves these cookies or doesn't at all. I am just starting to play with using different spices and extract and waters to add a different twist to them for my glueten free friends who 'don't want to eat flowers' lol

    Again, Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a cardamon addict :) and I enjoy every step of making and giving these cookies!

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  32. Hi Azita
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. It's been awhile I've wanted to try it.
    One question: my son is intolerant to dairy. Do you think replacing normal butter by ghee or vegetable oil would work?
    Nick

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    1. Nick, you can replace the butter by ghee or vegetable oil. Thank you!

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  33. Hello,

    I just tried my first attempt at these - they started to brown so I took them out of the oven at about 10 min .. but they just fall apart ! Help !

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    1. Brie, You may have to adjust your baking time or bake at a lower temperature. Let these rice cookies cool completely before you remove them or they will fall apart.

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  34. Hi! I just made the cookies today, they are absolutely amazing :)
    I'm from Hungary, but my boyfriend is Persian i made these for him. He tried the original one in that city and told me that nobody can make like that so it was a big challenge for me :)))) but i think i had my success, he loved it!
    Its really a special taste for me, with the rose water and cardamom and the texture also. Thank you so much for the recipe! Love your blog :) xoxo

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