Barbara Romaine

It’s from a Lebanese cookbook entitled Food for the Vegetarian, by Aida Karaoglan, and it’s called karabij.  A Jordanian friend once told me that another name for these is karabij Halab, which translates to “whips of Aleppo.”  Sounds kinky, doesn’t it?  I’m afraid I have no idea what whips have to do with anything here, though.  What these really are is semolina nut biscuits.  Here we go (I usually halve this recipe, by the way; otherwise, you end up with an awful lotta biscuits . . . but if you’re planning for a crowd, well . . . ):

  • 6 cups semolina
  • 1 pound butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • enough milk to form a hard dough (very precise, no?)

Sift the semolina with the baking soda.  Work the butter into the semolina with your fingers until it is well mixed.  Gradually add the milk to form a stiff dough.  Shape the dough into small balls the size of walnuts.  Hollow them and fill them with the nut filling (see below).  Close and seal.  Place them on a large baking tray and bake in a 325-degree oven until golden.  [Here the instructions say to serve with a special cream called “natef,” on the side, but this “natef” (which I think actually DOES mean something kinky, in other contexts–yeesh, what IS it with this recipe, anyway??) involves an ingredient called halawa wood . . . er . . .say what?  I suspect that halawa wood, if it’s available anywhere outside of Lebanon, might be found in some obscure Arab food market in New York or Montreal, but nowhere else.  So I’ve never attempted to make natef–instead I just use Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream, which does beautifully as a substitute, thank you very much.]

Nut filling:

  • 1 cup pine nuts, coarsely ground
  • 1 cut walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water

Mix the above ingredients to use as the filling for the karabij.