We’re three months into the year and a week into Spring, and I think it’s safe to say I’m finally past the post-holiday season slump that haunts me for apparently an entire quarter of the year. New year’s day has long passed (along with every resolution I’ve never once followed through on), but the Persian new year has just begun. The Persian new year, Nowruz, marks the vernal equinox, aka the first day of Spring. My Pakistani side of the family originates from Afghanistan, so this has been a holiday celebrated for many generations, bringing an onslaught of ancestral dishes and traditions.
Here in the states, there isn’t as much excitement and fervor surrounding Nowruz as there is with my family back in Pakistan, so I thought I could at least partially make up for it by bringing in some Afghan influences into my kitchen.
Pistachio, rosewater, and cardamom are classic and thoroughly loved flavors in Afghan and other central/south asian cuisines, so I experimented around and ended up with these buttery, shortbread-like pistachio & rosewater cookies. They came out to be wonderful tea cookies, carrying hints of cardamom and nostalgia from my trips to Pakistan as a child.
I adapted my tried and true sugar cookie recipe, cut out some uniform circles, and got rosewater wafting through the kitchen. These were, in short, an absolute delight.
These cookies aren’t overly sweet and are great with a cup of tea or coffee (or both because I can’t function with at least two sources of caffeine on a daily basis). I rolled mine out pretty thin, but you could easily get a thicker and softer cookie if you’d prefer. The flavors are apparent, but mild, so for a stronger taste, adding an extra quarter teaspoon of cardamom or small splash of rosewater extract would definitely bring out more prominent flavors if you’re into something bolder.
I’ve got the whole recipe down below, so give them a try and let me know what you think!
As always, thanks for reading and happy baking,
Pistachio & Rosewater Cookies
3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 tsp of rosewater extract
3 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 tsp of baking powder
2 pinches of salt
3/4 tsp of cardamom
2/3 cup of chopped pistachios
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together for about 2 minutes. Add in rosewater extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until a soft dough forms. Mix chopped pistachios in.
- Form dough into two flat disks and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disk of dough until it reaches a thickness between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch, depending on how thick you want the cookies. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place back in the refrigerator until it’s firm enough. Using a circle cookie cutter (mine had a diameter of 2 1/2 inches) cut out cookies and carefully place on cookie sheet. Place back into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, or the freezer for 10 minutes. This will help the cookies hold its shape in the oven.
- Take the cookie sheet out and bake in preheated oven for 11-15 minutes, or until the cookies just start coloring on the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.