Ghorabieh (also written Qurabiya) is an almond macaroon that originates in Tabriz, Iran. Tabriz is in the Eastern Azerbaijan province of Iran and is famous for its delicious food, fantastic restaurants and special pastries and sweets. The bakeries, or “ghanadi” in Tabriz bake hundreds of Ghorabieh in any given day. These soft disk shaped cookies are popular “soghati” among tourists who visit Tabriz. Soghati is what you bring back home as a gift from your travels to your favorite people. Whenever I go back to Tabriz, besides spending time with my family and friends, I do a lot of shopping at Tabriz Bazaar, home to old spice shops and some famous bakeries that have been around since my childhood. Ghorabieh has always been one of my favorite sweets so I really wanted to come up with a recipe that reminds me of old times. This Ghorabieh recipe has been in the works for a while and I’m finally very pleased with the result and ready to share it with all of you. These almond macaroons are soft and chewy, just like Ghorabieh is meant to be!
Ghorabieh has been around in Tabriz ghanadies (bakeries) since ancient times. It is a very popular sweet at the weddings, engagement parties and most celebrations. In older times when a girl was engaged to be married, the groom’s family would send large oval platters “bloot,” mounded high with stacks of Ghorabieh to her house on a khonche aghd. Aghd means wedding, and khonche was a light wooden crate that a man carried over his head. Khonche was usually covered with a beautiful handmade tapestry fabric bordered with metallic lace (photo) called “termeh,” which is an antique item now. Also carried in the khonche aghd were a lot of gifts for the bride and her family. Since one khonche was never large enough to carry everything, the bride would receive many khonche (s). In the present day Iran the special sweets and gifts are given to the bride either in person or delivered by a gift service from the bakeries or shops to the home of the bride to be.
Ghorabieh is also a favorite baked good during different “Eyds,” but especially Eyd e Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Eyd e Nowruz is the celebration of the moment that spring arrives in the Northern hemisphere. This happens on March 19, 20, or 21. This year spring arrives at 10:30 p.m. on March 19th in my mountain town. For other time zones you may check this link . I have previously posted a special Nowruz article about the rituals of this ancient Zoroastrian ceremony which might be interesting to those who would like to learn more about this celebration. Ghorabieh is made with ground almonds, egg whites, sugar and very little cake flour. Blanched almonds are sold at the bakery aisle of supermarkets but you may also blanch them at home. To blanch your own almonds, add 1 cup of almonds to a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl for 10 minutes. Without burning your fingers pick up an almond and squeeze it between your thumb and index finger to remove the brown skin on the outside. Don’t drain the water until all of the almonds are done. The blanching can be done 3-4 days in advance and the blanched almonds can be frozen in a freezer safe zipped bag. Freezing causes some discoloration but it does not compromise its texture or taste. Leave the bag at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to thaw, before grinding.
Cake flour is sold in the supermarkets but you will need only two tablespoons of it for this recipe, and it is super easy to make: Measure one cup of all purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons of it and put it back in your flour bin. Then add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to the cup of flour. Now, sift it 5 times. You will need 2 tablespoons of the cake flour for this recipe, save the rest for a later use.
Process the blanched almonds with sugar until fine and soft like the picture. Don’t process to the point that it turns to paste, you want the particles to be small but chewy, slowly add 2 tablespoons water and vanilla extract with the food processor running. The almonds will start bunching up to one side. Turn the processor off. Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form (this is the stage after the foaming but before stiff peaks).
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (do not grease the paper). Sift the powdered sugar and cake flour into a small bowl. Gently fold in the ground almonds with the beaten egg whites until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and cake flour mixture in two additions to the almond and egg mixture and stir to blend after each addition. Fit a plain round tube on a pastry bag (I used a Wilton 1A tip), or cut a small tip off a small Ziplock bag. Fill the bag with the batter. This batter is soft and as you fill the bag, it will start coming out of the tip; I let the tip touch the bottom of the bowl and this helps keep the batter inside the bag.
Pipe out twenty 2-inch circles on the parchment lined baking sheet leaving some space between the circles. Leave the cookies uncovered on the kitchen counter for 1 hour. Coarsely chop some unsalted pistachios and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F (center rack) for at least 30 minutes.
In a small bowl add one egg white and stir it with a spoon until uniformly clear (do not beat). Brush the top of the cookies with the egg white and lightly sprinkle with turbinado sugar crystals. Sprinkle the coarsely chopped pistachios on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges turn light golden brown and the tops are a light tan color. Leave the cookies on the parchment paper and slip them onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Gently lift the parchment paper and lightly spray the back with water. Wait a couple of minutes and then gently peel the paper away from the cookies. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. These cookies also freeze well for up to a week in the freezer. To freeze Ghorabieh, line an airtight container with parchment paper, arrange cookies in a single layer and line with more parchment paper and repeat. Cover the container tightly with a plastic wrap and the cover with the lid. When ready to serve, leave the Ghorabieh in room temperature uncovered for 15 minutes.
Nowruz Mobarak!! Enjoy Ghorabieh for this upcoming festive celebration, or just bake it for a simple afternoon visit with a friend. The Persian way is to never forget some freshly brewed Persian tea on the side!
1 hour inactive time
Temperature: Preheated 350 F, center rack
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
You will need a food processor
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
- 1 cup blanched (without the brown skin) almonds (8 ounces)
- ¾ cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar (6 ½ ounces)
- 2 TBSP water
- 3 egg whites (keep the yolks for another use)
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar (1 ¾ ounces)
- 2 TBSP cake flour
- 1 egg white (use the yolk for something else), stir a few times for easier brushing, but do not whip
- ½ -1 tsp turbinado sugar crystals
- ¼ cup unsalted pistachios coarsely chopped, for sprinkling on top before baking
- Add 1 cup blanched almonds to the chamber of a food processor (Please see the tutorial for the blanching instructions at home. If you’re using the store bought blanched almonds soak them in warm water for 5-10 minutes and drain them before grinding).
- Add ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar to the chamber. Process for half a minute or until the almonds are processed into small chewy particles. You don't want almond paste, do not over process.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a slow stream through the feeding shoot with the food processor running. The ground almonds will start bunching up in one corner, and this is the time to stop the food processor. This process takes just about a minute, do not over process. Set aside.
- Sift the powdered sugar and cake flour into a bowl and set aside.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Do not grease the paper.
- Beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Remove the bowl and fold in the processed almonds into the beaten egg whites with a wooden spoon until blended.
- Add the flour and powdered sugar mixture in two additions and stir to blend after each addition.
- Fit a 12-inch pastry bag with plain flute tip (I used Wilton 1A) or make a small cut in one corner of a small ziplock bag. Fill the pastry bag with the batter.
- Pipe out twenty 2-inch circles with some space between them. Let the cookies rest for about an hour on the counter without covering them.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F for at least 30 minutes.
- Brush the tops of the cookies with the stirred egg white. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar crystal and chopped pistachios.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown and the tops have tanned a bit. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Slide the parchment paper with the cookies still attached onto a cooling rack. Cool for about 30 minutes.
- The cookies will be stock to the parchment paper. To release, lightly spray the back side of the parchment with water, wait for couple of minutes, and remove the cookies one by one with your fingers.
- Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature. These cookies also freeze well but bring them to room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
*Measure 1 cup all purpose flour
*Take 2 TBSP flour out of the cup and return it to your flour bin
*Add 2 TBSP corn starch to the remaining flour and sift the whole thing 5-6 times.
You will need only 2 TBSP of this cake flour for this recipe. Save the rest for a later use.
Glorious, Homa! I’ll be making these next month to serve at my birthday party. I absolutely love persian food and am so glad to have found your site. Not only the recipes are great, the composition in the pictures is stunning. Makes me hungry everytime. Keep up the awesome work.
Thank you Giovanna, happy early birthday. I think you will love these cookies, I do 🙂
Just Jim says
I am not certain regarding the amount of flour used. Is it 2 TBSP or 1 cup minus 2 TBSP?
Hi Jim, you will need only 2 tablespoons of cake flour for this recipe. Thanks for your comment, probably my notes in the body of recipe were confusing, I just moved them to NOTES. Hope this is more clear. Please let me know if I have answered your question.
Traveling to celebrate Norooz with family this year but this recipe I must try.They look yummy.
Thank you Marcia! Safe trip and Nowruz Mobarak.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
Absolutely delightful feast for the eyes and palate. I enjoyed reading the story, and love every photo. I have had these cookies before, but never knew they were called ghorabieh.
Fae, thank you for all the kind words! I have to tell you I’m very pleased to have finally recreated the taste and texture of my beloved Ghorabieh that I used to have as a child 🙂
Happy Nooroz, Homa joon .. wish all the best will come to you this year and following year
Happy Nowruz and happy spring Fitri joon! Thank you very much for your warm wishes, and I likewise wish you an amazing year ahead.
In the above recipe, you prepared the cake flour but did not add it to the cookie recipe.
I know you mentioned only 2 Tablespoon is needed but please advise when does it get added in.
Hello Guity jan, thank you for letting me know. I had explained that in the complete printable recipe, but I just added it to the pictured descriptions also.
هما خانم عزیز فقط اومدم عرض احترام کنم و عید و سال نو رو به شما تبریک بگم. امیدوارم سال جدید براتون همراه با تمام چیزهای خوب و حسهای خوب باشه، همونجوری که با هنرتون و دستورهای خوبتون تمام سال حسهای خوب به من میدید.
به به از این قرابیهها. اگر درست یادم باشه در تبریز قرابیه را چند ثانیهای روی استکان چای میگذارن تا با بخار چای کمی گرم و نرم بشه. این هفته باید از اینها درست کنم، ممنون مثل همیشه از دستورهای خوبتون.
دلتون شاد هما خانم عزیز و نازنین.
سنجاقک عزیز خواهش میکنم، ممنونم از لطف شما، شاد باشین و عیدتون مبارک. این قرابیه ها رو حتما امتحان باید کرد، ولی اینا مثل قرابیه های زمان کودکی من نرم هستند وققط یه چایی تازه دم و داغ برای مزه اش لازم دارن نه برای نرم شدن
صد در صد درست خواهم کرد، دیر وقت شب نبود همین الان دست به کار میشدم با این توصیفی که کردید. قرابیهی نرم دلم خواست با چای. 🙂
نوش جان 🙂
Thank You,Homa. I am looking for this recipe many years .All what can find are on Farsi.My son was in Tebriz in his childhood and ask me to cook them.And thanks to You now ICan cook them.
Hello dear Fatima, you’re so welcome! I’m very happy to read your message and that you will be able to make your son’s favorite childhood treat. Please enjoy and keep in touch.
Homa joon, Happy New Year!
I love this pastry and tried it for the first time the last time I was in Iran. I’ve been looking for a good recipe to bake it and thank to you now I have one 😉
Thank you azizam.
Fariba joon, I hope you will have a happy and successful new year. I am very happy to hear that you will be making my ghorabieh and hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. Thank you for your lovely comment and khahesh mikonam 🙂
Sheila A. says
Hi Homa joon,
Please help me… All recipes I have found to date for ghorabieh are really not like the ones my family brings back from Tabriz. Those cookies are puffy/taller /bigger (if that makes sense) and they have a distinct flavor that I cannot quite put my finger on. It is driving me nuts!
I want to make them for my dad, but with the true flavor of Tabriz. No recipe I have tried thus far has been close.
Could you please help me?
Rose water! That’s the essence used for these cookies.
Hello Sheila jan, the last time I was in Tabriz I had their ghorabieh. I believe they add a bit of bitter almond flavor to the dough. The other possibility is that some naturally bitter almonds get in the paste and creates this flavor. They also add a lot of slivered almonds and pistachios on top. I hope these suggestion help.
Hi I was wondering if you could use store bought almond meal instead of grinding your own almonds and if yes how much almond meal is neaded in cups. Thanks
Hello Kimia, I have never used store bought almond meal in this recipe but I think it should work. The ingredient listed on the package should say “ground almonds,” and nothing else. This recipe calls for a cup of ground almonds which weighs 8 ounces; however from my experience the store bought almond meal is finer and drier, so you might have to use a packed cup to get a batter with a similar consistency. Please let me know if this works for you.
Colleen Steer says
Can you replace almond flour for the ground blanched almonds? I am just lazy and though of using the almond flour like I normally do when I make french macaroons.
Hi Colleen; I believe almond four is much drier than the paste, and you will not get the same chewy texture that you get t with the ground almonds. I have seen 8-oz cans of pure almond paste made by ‘Solo’ at the supermarket and it is also available online; this really would be the best substitute to making it yourself. However, if you wish to use the almond flour, you might want to adjust the recipe to achieve a thick texture that can be piped out; it should not be too dry or too runny.
Hi, i remember eating these coookies in Iran and there was a distinct aroma and flavor of rose water. Your recipe doesn’t have that and instead you use vanilla. I’m sure they would be delicious but they would not be authentic ghorabieh.
Hello Nooshin, I don’t recall eating rosewater scented ghorabieh in Tabriz; but if you prefer, go ahead and use it in the recipe.
Hi Homa joon. Recently, I purchased almond flour from Costco and made gorabiyeh and leuze. The results were great and everyone loved them. Btw, I would like to thank you once again for your blog. I always was worried that my kids won’t be able to use all my recipes since they can’t read Farsi well. Now, I introduced them to your site and my daughter is using your recipes?
Hello Hengameh joon; thanks so much for letting me know; I get many inquires about this and I’ve only made it with ground almonds. I’m so glad your daughter is using my recipes and I thank you for that 🙂 Pishapish Nowruz mobarak, and please keep in touch!
Thank you so much for all of your great recipes. I really enjoy everything you post!
Hi Sarah, your comment makes me very happy; thank you my dear, enjoy them 🙂
Hi,mam can u show nutritious facts for yr recipes thanks. Sabiha
I would like to find a bakery where I can buy these cookies , in NYC area, do you know any ?
Thanks for the yummy suggestions
Yashar, sorry for the late reply; I’m currently traveling in Iran. I’m glad I was able to answer your question via email. Have a wonderful weekend.
I made these delightful and delicious cookies with Persian tea today for our book club as we were discussing the book “The Ungrateful Refugee” by Dina Nayeri, an Iranian author. They turned out perfectly and everyone loved them. It was a nice change from traditional North American cookies and I loved the tea combination. It will become a regular tea for me and I will be adding the cookie recipe to my repertoire! Thank you for sharing your heritage – I look forward to trying some of your other recipes as well!
It is great to hear from you! It is a pleasure to share my family recipes for all who appreciate Iran and Iranian culture! I’m happy that you and your book club have enjoyed these cookies, as this has been one of my treasured recipes that I have worked very hard to recreate from my childhood memories growing up in Tabriz! Please keep in touch and write back to me when you try any other recipes. Thanks for writing to me 🙂
OMG I remember this from my childhood!!! It was a special delicacy. “Take only one”, they told me when we visited family and friends.
I have been trying to recall the cuisine of my past…
Dear AK, it is good to hear from another ghorabieh fan. I remember they used to serve this at almost every aroosi in Tabriz! I think you’re going to love this, it is the closest thing to the ghorabieh that was served all that time ago! I would love to get your feedback once you make these.
farimah attary says
Hi Homa joon,
I have been making gorabieh with almond paste for years, however recently they do not come out right, they look great while baking ( properly cracked and risen) as soon as I take them out of the oven they go flat, please advise. Thanks
Hi Farimah, It is hard to pinpoint what the exact problem is, but if you are using a recipe that has worked all this time, the only thing I can think of is the oven temperature. You might have it checked to make sure that the preheated oven temperature is reflecting the actual baking temperature. Good luck and take care 🙂