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.
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, a 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 Nakache, Chorba 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.
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.
- fine semolina
- date paste
- sesame seeds
- orange blossom water or rose water
How to make
- make a dough with semolina and divide it into two equal parts
- make a dough with date paste
- roll out all the dough balls to the same size
- stack the date dough between the two semolina dough and lightly roll
- cut into diamond shapes and toast on a hot pan in batches
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!
I want to stay back here for some more time to cook and experience a few more lip-smacking Algerian food, and then move on to cook a recipe home to Andorra!
So, where is Algeria?
Algerian Brâdj | Diamond Cookies
For the semolina dough
- 1 cup fine semolina
- ⅓ to ½ cup melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon orange blossom water you may use rose water
- ⅓ to ½ cup water roughly and depends on the kind of semolina you use
For the Dates dough
- ¾ cup date paste if you don't get dates paste, just soak pitted dates overnight and make a paste with very little water and a dash of oil
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon softened butter
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds roasted
- ½ teaspoon orange blossom water you may use rose water
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)
Prepare the date paste 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.
Roll semolina dough
- Take a zip lock 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 round and keep it aside. Repeat the same for the other portion of the semolina dough.
Roll Date Paste dough
- Use another zip lock bag and tear it open into two equal-sized sheets or you can use baking paper or similar plastic sheets. Keep the date paste on one sheet and close it with the other. Start pressing it with your hand or with a rolling pin to the same shape and size as the above semolina dough and keep it aside.
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 ¼ to ¾ inch. Cut the flattened Brâdj into diamond shapes.
Pan toast the cookies
- 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.
Adapted from: Algerian Kitchen
Shumaila Chauhan says
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.
Famidha Ashraf says
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! 😛
Rafeeda A. Raheem says
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... 🙂
Hiba Abbas says
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.
Kanak Hagjer says
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!
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.
Nisa (Flavour Diary) says
this would have tasted great...nice share from algeria
Ruxana Gafoor says
Lovely cookies,with all those easily available ingredients...And also came to know about a new recipe 🙂