Ghee Jaggery Cookies (Nepali Baked Thekuwa)
“Ghee Jaggery Cookies” or Nepali Baked Thekuwa is a variation of hand-formed cookies with a unique taste of ghee, fennel & jaggery together. It is eggless too.
This is my 6th year participating in a cookie exchange and I couldn’t be more excited because every year a group of bloggers virtually get together and share their fav. holiday inspired cookies and help raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. See what I made previous years in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. This year I am sharing “Ghee Jaggery Cookies”, which are inspired by Nepali cookie called “Thekuwa”. Thekuwa is a variation of hand-formed cookies made with flour, jaggery, ghee, and some spices then, deep-fried in ghee. I am sharing a baked version, however you can deep-fry them in ghee as you please. Ghee Jaggery Cookies are soft in texture and has unique flavors because you normally don’t see ingredients like ghee, jaggery, & fennel in cookies so I encourage you to add Ghee Jaggery Cookies to your holiday baking list for something different.
My grandmother used to make Ghee Jaggery Cookies (Nepali Baked Thekuwa) while growing up in Nepal and it was a treat for us. I recently got connected with an aspiring small business owner who makes ghee - a type of clarified butter commonly used for culinary and spiritual purpose in Indian-subcontinent regions. You can find more about her business on Pasture Ghee and she was generous to give me ghee samples to try.
The methods for making Ghee Jaggery Cookies (Nepali Baked Thekuwa) is simpler than most cookies as there is no softening the butter ahead of time. Ghee has a pretty soft texture (except in super cold weather but it still doesn’t harden like butter) so to make cookies, you mix all your ingredients and form them into a circular disc before baking.
So why ghee you may ask? Ghee has been used in Ayurveda for centuries and used extensively in Indian sub-continent regions for cooking. It has a deep, nutty flavor and is a prime choice of nutritious fat without the allergens like casein and lactose. Ghee is also naturally gluten-free, paleo friendly, and keto-certified which is why it has gained a lot of popularity in the paleo/keto community.
Ghee has a high smoke point of ghee ~ 485F which makes it a great choice of fat especially for high heat cooking such as roasting, baking, sautéing, pan-frying. You can also enjoy ghee on a piece of toast, fry your eggs or make yourself some bullet-coffee. I make daal (lentil soup) and khichdi and plop a small teaspoon on top for that extra warmth and deliciousness.
Besides ghee, another star ingredient is jaggery - a popular unrefined sugar in South and Southeast Asia that typically comes from the sap of palm trees or sugar cane juice. Whether it comes from palm tree sap or sugar cane juice, the boiled and reduced liquid is the starting place for many different products. I get jaggery from an Indian grocery store and it is dark in color…and is slightly less sweeter than maple syrup but has a rich, brown sugar-like flavor.
Fennel, shredded coconut, and cardamom powder are added to the mixture and you are all set. All the ingredients can be probably purchased at an Indian grocery store and you can order your ghee from Pasture Ghee, which btw is made in small batches using organic butter.
Ghee Jaggery Cookies (Nepali Baked Thekuwa)
Makes: 1 dozen, regular size cookies
3/4 cup jaggery
1/2 cup water
2 cups whole wheat flour (or you can try 1.5 cup whole wheat flour, 0.5 cup almond meal)
3 tablespoon ghee
1/2 cup shredded coconut (use the dry, unsweetened kind)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom powder, optional
about 1/2 cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a small sauce pan over low flame, heat water and jaggery together until it melts then remove from heat. Set aside to cool down.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, coconut and fennel seeds. Add ghee in the dry ingredients bowl and mix in with a fork or hand until it forms a crumbly mixture.
Gently pour in jaggery into the large mixing bowl and use your hand to knead the cookie mix into a pliable dough.
Take about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten it out. You can use a fork to gently press and make a criss-cross pattern. and press down with a fork to make pattern.
Bake in 375F for 8-10 minutes. For harder cookies, bake for additional 1-2 minutes.
Transfer the cookies into a cooling rack as soon as you take it out of the oven.
If you get jaggery in blocks, use a grater or knife to grate into powder.
I can’t wait for you to give “Ghee Jaggery Cookies” or Nepali Baked Thekuwa a try this holiday season. If you make this recipe, please do not forget to share and tag @foodpleasurehealth on instagram. You can also pin this recipe for future use.
PS : We’re raising money for our friends at Cookies for Kids' Cancer through the end of December and here is a link to this year’s fundraising page.