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Kaak Malih

As my tastebuds mature, the more and more I found myself reaching for sweets like Kaak Malih. A traditional Libyan sweet that can be thought of as a savory biscuit.

I used to turn away from these cookies at every picnic and every wedding, always wanting something more sugary. But now, I can truly admire the beauty of these.

The dough smells just like walking into a spice market back home. Aromatically infused with fennel, cardamom, anise, and cumin. Kaak malih goes together with tea or coffee like peanut butter goes with jelly. Or milk with cookies.

For a little personal twist, I mixed the egg wash with some honey for a soft but sweet note. Just a touch to not overtake the spices but enough to bring out more complexity of flavor. Sweet, salty, a bit of spice. Nothing more you can ask for.


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, warm
1/2 teaspoon anise
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon honey
sesame seeds for garnish


Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, yeast, salt, butter, oil, milk, anise, cardamom, cumin, and fennel and mix just like you would cookie dough. If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. The final dough should not be sticky or dense at all, but still firm.
Grab some dough, about the size of a ping pong ball, and roll thin and long. You can create a design here by cutting little slits along one side of the dough and then combine both ends into a circle and pinch it shut.
Place cookies on parchment paper and a light baking sheet. These cookies can burn easily on the bottom so a light vs dark baking sheet helps prevent this.
In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and honey and brush onto cookies. Sprinkle sesame seeds on.
Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden.
    • Mariam
    • May 22, 2019

    Hi are the anise and fennel added as powder or seeds ?

      • June 6, 2019

      Either would work fine! I like to see the seeds in the baked cookie because it makes them more pretty 🙂

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