A resource and running commentary on stylish London

stylish Sonia’s savoury snacks

Sonia is one of the most elegant women I know. She also happens to be a very good cook who rarely, if ever, makes use of a recipe. That is why I jumped at the chance to observe and learn how to make her famous rosquettes, a recipe she learned from her mother. Where Sonia came from (Egypt), recipes were a closely guarded secret. A little bit of this, a pinch of that. Nothing very precise.

Sonia welcomes me into her kitchen and the adventure begins!

Sonia welcomes me into her kitchen and the adventure begins!

When a cup was called for in a recipe, you could not be too sure about the size of your cup vs. the one required. Some women (not Sonia) would go so far as to “forget” or leave out an ingredient when sharing their recipe with you. Can you imagine that?

Claudia Roden, the great food writer and author of numerous cookbooks, who also happens to come from Egypt, refers to rosquettes as Kahk,  in her comprehensive and definitive  The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York 

“References are made about these delicious dry, hard, savoury little bracelets, covered in sesame seeds, in the Talmud and in medieval Arab manuscripts although there is no way to really know what they looked like”.  -Claudia Roden

Now that I have given you a little background into these addictive little savoury snacks, I am going to share with you the somewhat time-consuming, but well worth, culinary road map (recipe) one needs to navigate when embarking on this adventure.

Warning: Unless you have 3 to 5 hours to devote to this endeavour, do not even think of giving it a go!

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Make sure to have all the ingredients measured and prepared before you begin

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Flour being mixed with cumin, coriander, nigella seeds, cumin seeds…

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After much trial and error, Sonia insists the key to good rosquettes is Rapeseed oil!

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Kneading the dough is a virtual workout.

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After the dough is kneaded, some more oil is added, and then it is covered and left in a warm place to rise

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Et voilà, a few hours later, the dough has risen!

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Bits of dough are rolled out into strips

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Can you tell which ones are mine?

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The strips are cut and formed into small round shapes

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The rosquettes are then dipped in egg and dredged in a mixture of sesame and nigella seeds

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Rosquettes placed like little soldiers on a baking tray ready for the oven

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This recipe makes 3 large trays. Only one tray in the oven at a time

Sonia’s Rosquettes

1 1/2 Kilo plain white flour
3 generous tablespoons ground cumin
3 generous tablespoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons nigella seeds
3 teaspoons yeast
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups rapeseed oil
pinch of sugar
3 cups hot water, not boiling

Preheat oven to 190C degrees or 375F Fahrenheit

1.  Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl
2.  Add 1 cup of water to the dry ingredients and begin kneading the dough for approximately 5 minutes
3.  Gradually begin to add a second cup of hot water, a little bit at a time
4.  The dough should become soft and smooth. You may need to gradually add the last cup of hot water a little bit at a time to soften the dough or a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky
5.  Pour a little bit of oil on top of the dough rubbing it into the mixture. It should look smooth and glistening
6.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm area of your kitchen for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size
7.  Punch down the dough
8.  Take a walnut size piece of dough and roll between the palm of your hands until you have a 4″ strand
9.  Form a circle and pinch ends together. Repeat till you use all the dough
10. Brush each rosquette with a beaten egg and dip into a bowl of sesame & nigella seeds
11.  Place on a large baking tray
12.  Bake one tray at a time at 190F/375F degrees for about 30 minutes or till golden
13.  Makes approximately 240 rosquettes

The next time you are invited to someone’s house for dinner, bring them a bag of these savoury snacks. You are guaranteed to be invited back…

For the rosquettes!

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