Chebakia and Ramadan and synonymous in Morocco. You simply can’t have one without the other. This presents a big problem for us. Chebakia are cookies made of flour, spices, honey, and sesame seeds. It’s the flour that is problematic. It’s safe to say that Moroccan families eat dozens and dozens of these cookies every Ramadan. They are made (or bought) in huge quantities and are time consuming to make – which makes it very clear to me why they’re a special holiday treat.
Last year I decided I would try to make a gluten-free chebakia to serve with harira during Ramadan. Traditionally these cookies are a very unique shape. The dough is rolled flat, cut into rectangles, then sliced 3-4 times in the middle of each piece of dough. It is then inverted to create a shape that reminds me of a flower. While this can be tricky to master, traditional dough has enough elasticity to make it possible. I tried and tried to get a gluten free dough elastic enough to recreate the shape but sadly I couldn’t do it. It has been one of my lessons in gluten-free cooking. It’s possible to almost replicate the taste of most things, however it’s not always possible to get them to look the same. Instead, I used a pastry cutter with a rippled edge to cut these into strips and I then twisted some of them as I put them in the fryer to create a different shape. This is totally optional, they’ll still taste great if you just cut into strips!
That being said, I am happy with how these turned out. A few things to keep in mind; the dough is much softer than traditional chebakia dough, they must be kept in the refrigerator or they will turn to a ball of mush, and they tend to brown much faster when frying. If you’ve got a celiac in the house, or are just cutting back on wheat, I hope you’ll enjoy these cookies as much as the original.