Just like cumin, fennel seeds and cardamom are essential to Pakistani cooking. Fennel is a spice that dangles on the edge of sweet and savory. It is used in sweet chai tea blends, hearty curries and you will always find it in mukhwas, mixed with anise, sesame oil and peppermint or rose petals, to chew after meals to freshen your breath and improve digestion. Turmeric is used in almost all curry mixtures of Pakistan and India to give color and depth to the dish. I like to use fennel seeds in sweet dishes. The aniseed-like taste can subtly freshen up a dessert or pastry. I had never used turmeric in sweet baking, so I was very curious about the result. For my variation of the classic Jeera cookie from Pakistan I added a pinch of turmeric to my cookie dough and it immediately turned into a beautiful deep yellow. The earthy, slightly citrus-like spice with its touch of bitterness blends very well with the distinct fennel flavor and the sugar. I was very pleased with this spicy, crunchy cookie and will certainly bake it more often. I have already planned an elaborate curry meal and will serve a large batch of these yellow flowers to go with the coffee.
Fennel curcuma cookie
For ± 25 cookies
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
125 grams (1 cup + 1 tbs) butter
125 grams (1¼ cups) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp curcuma
250 grams (2 cups) flour
good pinch of salt
Toast the fennel seeds ± 2 min in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant.
With a mixer beat the butter with the sugar for ± 5 min. until light and creamy.
Add the egg yolk and curcuma and beat well.
Add the flour, salt and fennel and mix quickly until the dough has a crumbly consistency.
Bring together quickly in a smooth ball of dough. Add ± 1 tbsp cold water if the dough is still too crumbly. Don’t knead the dough, the cookie will be less crunchy.
Cover the dough and leave to rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
Roll out the dough to ± ⅓ cm / ⅛ inch thick. Cut out cookies with a flower shaped cookie cutter of about 4 cm / 1½ inches ø.
Place the fennel curcuma cookies on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 10-15 min. until light brown and done.
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