These Persian rice cookies, or naan e berenji, are one of many Persian cookies traditionally made for Nowruz, the Persian New Year that falls on the Spring Equinox.
Previously published 2015. Republished with updated content Feb 2023.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Table of contents
- Persian Rice Cookies
- The Cookies
- Persian Rice Cookies Recipe
- Ingredients for Persian Rice Cookies
- Persian Rice Cookies Flavouring and Topping
- Persian Rice Cookie Pattern
- How to Serve Persian Rice Cookies
- How to Store
- Nowruz Recipes
Persian Rice Cookies
These are probably one of my favourite cookies for their just-sweet flavour and light, airy, yet slightly chewy texture. Persian rice cookies are also known as Nan e Berenji and Shirini Berenji. Let’s break that down, shall we?
Nan e Berenji, Shirini Berenji
- nan = bread
- e = I’ve talked about this before, an ezāfe, it connects words in Farsi, to indicate a relationship between the words on either side of it
- berenji = rice
- shirini = sweets, referring to all manner of pastry in Iran
So, literally, rice bread, or rice sweets.
Before we go any further, you’ll find all my Persian recipes on this page.
And LinsFood’s Persian New Year recipes are on the Nowruz Recipes Page.
Persian rice cookies are traditionally topped with poppy seeds, although many families, like mine, also finish the cookies off with crushed rose petals and pistachios.
Authentic nan e berenji have an enticing floral and musky aroma because we flavour them with rose water and cardamom.
If you’ve been a long time follower of LinsFood, you’ll know that rose and cardamom is a very popular combination in the Middle East and surrounding region.
Persian Rice Cookies Recipe
The traditional Persian rice cookie recipe calls for the cookie dough to be refrigerated overnight, because it’s very, very soft and wet. This was how I’d always made it, and the recipe that I published in 2015.
However, I’ve had many requests for a shorter recipe, and also a couple of readers for whom the recipe just didn’t work. It was too soft and spread too much. So I’m finally delivering – easy Persian rice cookies recipe!
Essentially, I’ve tweaked my old recipe to allow us to chill the dough for just 1 hour, with no loss of flavour and texture. One hour is enough for the rice flour to absorb moisture and fluff up, the key to shirini berenji’s texture.
The cookies taste exactly the same, with the old airy, yet slightly chewy texture.
- Lightly cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. So instead of using beaters, we’re going to “beat the butter” with a wooden spoon. That means round and round vigorously.
- Add the flours ( I use a little cornflour/cornstarch).
- Bring it all together without kneading.
- Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour.
- Shape with hands then create a pattern on each cookie.
- Top with poppy seeds, and bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
At 15 minutes, you’ll get a light, airy cookie with a slightly chewy texture in the middle.
At 18 minutes, your Persian rice cookies will be airy but crispier.
But all oven vary slightly.
Ingredients for Persian Rice Cookies
White Rice Flour
They’re rice cookies, so we definitely want rice flour and specifically plain white rice flour. Not glutinous rice flour that we use in East and South East Asian cooking.
You should be able to find rice flour in the baking aisle or in the aisle that sells gluten free baking supplies. It’s also an essential ingredient in Asian cooking, so Asian shops are always a good bet, whether South Asian or East Asian.
I add just a little bit of cornflour (cornstarch in the US) to our Persian rice cookie dough to aid the structure of our cookies. This also helps to ensure that are cookies don’t spread too much given the much shorter cooking time.
Butter or Vegetable Oil?
Some families use butter while others use a neutral vegetable oil. I find Persian rice cookies made with vegetable oil a little bland for my liking, given their already subtle nature. So I always use salted butter.
But I love my butter, I’ll have it in any shape or form. Do what you like, especially if you want dairy free Persian rice cookies, then by all means, use vegetable oil in baking your nan e berenji.
Persian Rice Cookies Flavouring and Topping
Traditionally, this would be it, along with cardamom. But every family has its own slant on traditional recipes.
Some may use orange flower (blossom) water instead.
Both rose and orange flower water will be found in the baking aisle, next to the vanilla. Failing that, here are my affiliate links to get them via Amazon (these are the ones I use):
- Nielsen Massey Rose Water
- Steenbergs Organic Rose Water
- Steenbergs Organic Orange Flower Water
- Ground Cardamom (once opened, keep it in an airtight container)
Cardamom is a natural accompaniment to rose water in many, many Middle Eastern desserts and pastries.
Because I use ground cardamom a lot (my morning tea for starters), I tend to have ground cardamom seeds in stock at all times.
If you don’t have any, just pry open 12 cardamoms, get the seeds out and pound them to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar.
Poppy Seeds are most definitely the topping of choice for Persian Rice Cookies. They add colour, texture and the slightest hint of fruit and nuttiness.
You’ll find poppy seeds with the other spices in your local supermarket.
Ground Dried Rose Petals
On LinsFood, we love topping our Persian rice cookies with ground edible dried rose petals. All my Persian friends and clients go wow, why didn’t I think of that, when they bite into one.
You’ll find them in South Asian stores or online. If you’re in the UK, Waitrose stocks them. But here’s my Amazon affiliate link for dried rose petals.
Click here to find out how to use dried rose petals.
Pistachios are a very popular ingredient in the Persian and Middle Eastern kitchen. You can ground them up and use them to top your Persian rice cookies as an alternative topping.
Persian Rice Cookie Pattern
Traditional Persian rice cookies have a pattern imprinted on them. This can be anything and made with any tool.
I just use an ordinary fork and create 4 lines across for the pattern you see. You can also use cookie stamps or just press down once with your fork flat on the cookie surface.
Or, honestly, leave it plain.
How to Serve Persian Rice Cookies
As you would any cookie, really. You don’t have to make these Persian rice cookies just for Nowruz or Eid. They are perfect for Christmas, Easter, Diwali or for anytime you fancy cookies!
Iranians’ drink of choice is tea, served black. So you could do that, serve your Nan e Berenji with Persian tea. Or serve it with anything you fancy: coffee, milk or hot chocolate.
How to Store
Store your Persian rice cookies as you would any other cookie: in an airtight container. They will keep for 5 days, although around the 3rd day, they’ll get noticeably softer and chewier.
And that’s it, shall we get our aprons on?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating! 😉 Merci!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor with the hashtag #linsfood.
You’ll find more Nowruz recipes here, like the following:
Persian Rice Cookies Recipe (Nan-e Berenji)
- 320 g rice flour
- 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
- 200 g salted butter at room temperature
- 120 g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 large egg yolk
- ⅛ tsp ground cardamom about 12 cardamom seeds
- 1 Tbsp rose water
- poppy seeds to scatter
- ground dried edible rose petals
- Mix the rice flour, cornflour and cardamom and set aside.Tip the icing sugar into a sieve to sieve straight onto the butter.
- Cream the butter with a wooden spoon for 20 seconds to lighten it (Stir vigorously). Add icing sugar and stir vigorously with the wooden spoon for about 30 seconds.
- Add the egg and rose water and stir well once again to mix until you have a smooth mixture.
- Fold in the flours and cardamom, mixing well. You'll have to use your fingers to bring it all together but don't knead the dough. The dough will be pretty sticky. If it sticks to your hands too much, dust your hands with some icing sugar.
- Clean your hands, dust your work surface with a tiny amount of icing sugar and roll your soft dough into 2 logs. Wrap well with a clingfilm or your usual plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 160˚C/320°F, and grease 2 baking sheets or trays.Unwrap 1 log and using a sharp knife, quickly slice your log into little discs, measuring about 2cm thick (about 0.8 inch).Keep the second log in the fridge until you're ready for it.
- Using your hands, form little balls with the dough, press them slightly and place on the baking sheet, giving an inch between each cookie. Work quickly, so the dough doesn't warm up too much.
- You can leave your cookies as they are, unpatterned.Or, using the side of a fork, or a cookie stamp, form grooves or any pattern on your cookies.
- Sprinkle some poppy seeds or ground rose petals in the middle of each cookie.Do the second tray, if you want/can bake 2 trays at once.
- Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until your cookies are a pale, beige colour. 2 trays – 1 on the middle shelf, 1 lower. The lower shelf may need 2 minutes extra.Repeat with the rest of the dough until it's all done.
3 thoughts on “Persian Rice Cookies (Nan e Berenji), Simplified Recipe”
Fantastic! Five stars from our Persian and American sides of the family! Truly authentic, just like a bakery
Thank you Sara, so pleased that you think so. Happy Nowruz to you and your family.
Loving this rice flour Persian cookies. This is similar to the Indian Nankhatai in the way it is made. Never tasted any cookie with rice, and I would love to give this a try.