Shakarlama ~ Iraqi shortbread with cardamoms

(Last Updated On: 1st June 2020)

By Raghad Al Safi: “The classic English childhood rhyme asking ‘what are little girls made of?’ also contains the precise description of these cookies. After all, just like the lyrical jingle that describes pig-tailed primary school princesses, these buttery shortbread biscuits, served at births, weddings and other celebratory occasions, are also made of ‘sugar (shakar in Arabic) and spice (exotic cardamom) and all things nice’.”

Eid-al-Adha brings sweet delicacies for visiting guests, who are treated to kleitcha – small pastries shaped into crescents that resemble the new Eid moon, shakarlama and luquom.

Do read our review of Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook The Iraqi Kitchen.

Shakarlama ~ Iraqi shortbread with cardamoms, from Raghad Al Safi's book - The Iraqi Kitchen

Shakarlama ~ Iraqi shortbread with cardamoms, from Raghad Al Safi’s book – The Iraqi Kitchen

Kleitcha ~ Iraqi Cookies

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Serves 2-5


  • 1 cup butter or ghee
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup toasted almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp rose water


  1. Preheat an oven to 120°C / 250°F / Gas Mark 1 to 2.
  2. Mix the sugar, egg whites and cardamom powder together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the butter/ghee, our, rose water, baking powder and salt, and stir well.
  3. Combine the two mixtures until it becomes dough. Knead well for 5–10 minutes until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Roll the dough into small balls an inch across. Flatten them slightly and press an almond into the centre of each.
  4. Place the rounds onto a greased baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, making sure that the cookies do not change colour.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven. When they have cooled, carefully lift them o the baking tray. Handle delicately as they crumble easily.
  6. Serve with coffee or hot Iraqi tea.
  7. Use 1 ½ cups of flour and ½ cup of coarsely chopped pistachios for a flavourful alternative.

[The Iraqi Table is published by Motivate Publishing and is available in leading bookstores and at Motivate Publishing has shared the following recipes along with the images from Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook to FoodeMag. We may have altered it to match the format in which our all recipes appear in this website.]

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    Shakarlama ~ Iraqi shortbread with cardamoms

    by Foodemag time to read: 2 min