Karakeesh (Sweet sesame crackers)

In the final few hours of the year, I always reflect upon the lyrics of this musical

How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year?

The past year has been one of the most eventful years of my life. Processing it all is going to take a while. It was indeed full of lessons, blessings, joys, heartbreaks, triumphs, disappointments, books read, road trips taken, people who showed their true colours and others who went above and beyond. Rock bottoms that turned into solid ground to build upon and rise from and lighthouses that shone brightly in times of darkness. It is so hard to put it into words but maybe one can think about it and perhaps even celebrate making it through it with a sweet firework of sesame seeds.

If you are not a fan of sweets you can make these without the sugar. The popping fireworks will still be there, the crisp crumbly texture and the hint of cardamom too. But do try them sweet first. They are the perfect companion for your afternoon cup of tea. They are also a great snack on the go and they definitely make a cute gift or last-minute addition to your favorite platter if you are entertaining tonight.

Karakeesh literally means that which pops and crackles. A perfectly fitting name for these rustic sesame crackers which are popular in the Northern parts of Palestine. Somewhere between a cookie and a crisp. Karakeesh offer a delightful combination of flavours and textures. A slightly sweet crisp cracker, nutty sesame seeds that pop when you bite into them (like mini fireworks in your mouth), and comforting spice notes like anise and cardamom that play gently in the background, adding a nice depth and warmth to the taste.

“Karakeesh”  قراقيش فلسطينيه

1 kg all-purpose flour (You can use 50:50 whole wheat to all-purpose)
1.5  cups toasted sesame seeds
1 cup olive oil
1.5 tablespoons anise seeds slightly crushed
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 cup warm water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


In a bowl add the flour, salt , anise, cardamom and sesame  seeds

Add the olive oil and rub it into the flour mixture until the flour absorbs all the oil and turns into wet sand consistency

Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the vanilla to it

Add the sugar water gradually and knead the dough until you get a smooth dough that does not stick to the sides of the bowl

Cut the dough into  30 balls and allow them to rest, covered with a clean cloth for 10 minutes

Sprinkle your working surface with  sesame seeds and start rolling out the dough into circles 7-10 cm in diameter and 1/2 cm in thickness

These crackers are meant to look rustic so don’t worry about getting perfect circles, rough uneven edges are part of their charm

If you find that the dough sticks to the working surface sprinkle some flour with the sesame seeds

Transfer the rolled out dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment

Bake on the lowest rack of a preheated oven at 200 C until the edges turn golden  and then place them under the broiler until the tops are golden brown too

Cool the crackers on a wire rack