Middle Eastern Sesame Cookies

Middle Eastern sesame cookies
Middle Eastern sesame cookies

We are cookie eaters in my house and it is all because of my mom and mother-in-law.

Throughout my childhood and even university years my mother the master baker always kept the cookie tins filled with this amazing selection of cookies to snack on.

One of my favourite childhood memories is helping her make her famous coffee cookies in preparation to our annual sea vacation. Our family, often together with my aunts’ families, always rented a vacation home somewhere along the South Coast of KZN. My mom’s coffee cookies was just the thing to balance the sugar levels after hours of swimming in the Indian ocean.

And then I moved to Israel, met my boyfriend (who eventually became my husband) and also met my mother-in-law Yocheved. She is this incredible foodie and was ALSO one of those moms who constantly kept the cookie tins full. Here is her savoury recipe for small bagele.

I just could not dodge the baking bullet and now I am continuing the cookie tradition. The taste of my cookies is usually influenced by my Western upbringing but here is recipe with a Middle Eastern touch because we are living in Israel after all.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Water ( 5 tablespoons + 1/2  tablespoon)
  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of butter (about 100 gram)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup sesame seeds


  1.  Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350F) and place parchment paper on two baking trays.
  2. Make the sugar syrup in a pot with the half a cup of sugar and five tablespoons of water. Stir every once and while until the syrup starts to boil. Allow the syrup to boil for one minute, and then let it cool off properly.
  3. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.
  4. In another (larger bowl) cream the butter and then add the flour mixture and sugar syrup alternately to the butter.
  5. Add the two tablespoons of sesame seeds to the dough and mix well.
  6. Place the dough in the fridge and wait for about half an hour for it to firm up.
  7. While you are waiting for the dough, mix the 1/2 cup sesame seeds, the 2 tablespoons honey and 1/2  tablespoon of water in a clean soup bowl. The bowl will have to be shallow so that you can easily dip your cookies in the sesame mixture.
  8. Take a small piece of dough, roll into a ball and then flatten it out in your hand to form the cookie. Now press the cookie gently in the sesame mixture on both sides and place it on the baking tray. You may have to reshape your cookie again after the pressing it into the sesame mixture.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden. Cool them off and enjoy with a cup of tea or Turkish coffee.
About the Author
I was born in South Africa and have been living in Israel since 1996 in the picturesque town of Zichron Yaakov with my husband and two daughters. I love to write, take photographs and now front-end development is my latest passion.
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