Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Shortbread Cookies with Cloves: Ghraiba bil qurunful الغريبة بالقرنفل

Ghraiba are delicious, easy to make and endlessly versatile, a simple recipe that allows for different flavorings.

These Arab shortbread biscuits are both a stand by for unexpected guests and ubiquitous on special occasions like Eid.

This version cuts the melt-in-the-mouth sweetness of Ghraiba with the sharp piquancy of cloves.

200g butter
60g powdered sugar
300 g flour (may vary depending on the type of flour used.)
1 tbs of finally grated cloves 
2 teaspoons vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A handful  of  cloves
Powdered sugar (optional)

Mix the sugar, butter and flour into a smooth dough. 300g of flour (about 3 cups) should be enough, but depending on the kind of flour you use you may need more. Add as much flour as you need until the dough is firm enough to shape.

Grind the cloves into a rough powder.

Sprinkle the powder on the dough, add the vanilla and work in.

Divide the dough into small lumps.

Take a bit of dough and roll it into balls. Press it gently between the hollows of your palms to make a slightly convex shape: Press a clove in the centre of each ghraiba. Some people prefer to use slivered almonds even in clove ghraiba, but I think whole cloves are prettier. Being in the oven weakens their taste, and fills the kitchen with the aroma of cloves!

Bake in the over at 220°C degrees for about 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven when they are still pale or your buttery soft ghraiba will harden and become indistinguishable form sugar cookies. It is usual to cover Ghraiba in powdered sugar, which is best done when the cookies get cold. They are sweet enough as they are though.


  1. Hi
    I have tried some recepies from this site, and the result was great. Thanks for the good job,
    But, when i tried this one Ghraiba, the ingredients seem to be wrong, are you sure flour is only 60 gram?? please recheck and correct it if needed.

  2. Thank you for pointing that out. Yes, you're right the ingredients should read 600g instead of 60g. I'm very sorry, I have corrected it now :)

  3. OMG, this blog made me remember the wonderful Libyan food I used to have as a kid when in Tripoli! Thanks so much for sharing! Loved your Recipes and am gonna try the bazeen soon! Yum Yum!

  4. Thank you for visiting the blog, I'm glad the recipes brought back some memories of childhood. Good luck with the bazeen!

  5. My brother discovered this website and I'm so glad to see all the recipes I enjoyed as a kid growing up in tripoli and knowing that I have some recipies to impress my Libyan dad with! However I tried this today (my first time trying something from the site) and it's really hard to get a dough consistency as when you add butter (I used normal, softened unsalted butter) to flour you get something that looks more like crumbs than dough. This made it really hard to shape the biscuits themselves and some fell apart when I tried to put a clove in them. My dad advised that next time I add water, any tips? (p.s. cannot wait to try snfinz, this is one of the things I miss the most!)

  6. Thank you for the comment. I'm sorry your first experience with our recipes didn't quite work out! I know how frustrating that can be, but I hope you'll give it another go. I would suggest melting the butter, and continue adding (slowly) until you get a soft consistency that is easy to shape. There is no water in this recipe, but although the flour and butter amounts used here works for me, it may vary depending on the type of flour used, some may absorb more than others. I've added that note to the ingredients.

    I hope the sfinz turns out well, and please let me know how it goes if you decide to try the ghraiba again.