• Kileche (Assyrian cookies) (SBS Food)Source: SBS Food

This recipe for traditional Assyrian cookies honours my mother Helen. These recipes are passed down through the generations and I hope that my daughters will continue that tradition. 






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (23 votes)

When I was a child in Baghdad, my mum would spend hours and hours cooking to bring the family together. With every meal came a story and with those stories came the survival of our history as the Assyrian people. Due to decades of genocides, war and displacement my people have been uprooted from our homeland, we have been scattered all around the world. That’s why it is even more important that our traditions are passed on to our younger generations so that we’re not forgotten.

My mother started cooking these at the age of ten and sixty years later, she has mastered this recipe. She is well known for her artistry in making these heavenly cookies and is often asked to go and assist other community members in making them. She has a reputation for precise and carefully crafted kileche that have been part of our home and our story for decades.

This is for you mum. With love, Evan. 



  • 1 kg plain flour 
  • 1 sachet (7g) of yeast 
  • 2 cups warm milk 
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar 
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • 1 ¾ cup unsalted butter (melted) 
  • eggs, beaten 

Walnut filling

  • 1 ½ cup walnuts, ground
  • ⅔ cup sugar 

Date filling 

  • 200 g date paste (packaged, or make your own by processing pitted dates)
  • 40 g butter 
  • 1 tsp cardamom 
  • egg, beaten for egg wash

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 1 hour

  1. Mix the yeast into ½ cup of warm water and sprinkle with ½ tbsp sugar. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add melted butter and mix in with your hands, until crumbly.
  3. Work in milk and yeast mixture.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and knead by hand, until the dough is soft and smooth (approximately 10 minutes). Cover and allow to rest for one hour in a warm place.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  6. Combine the ground walnuts with the sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Heat butter in a small pan. Add the date paste and sprinkle with cardamom. Stir and mix, over medium heat, until thoroughly mixed.
  8. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Each portion should contain each filling (1 walnut, 2 dates), and use the last portion of dough as needed to use up whatever filling is remaining.
  9. To make the walnut kileche, take one dough portions and cut off small portions of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten using your thumbs and index fingers – use a glass to cut a perfect circle if you would like it to be very neat. Curve the sides of the dough into a bowl shape.
  10. Fill the bowl shape with the walnut filling and fold the dough in half and press the edges together. Repeat until all the filling is used up.
  11. Place the kileche on a lined baking tray.
  12. To make the date kileche, place half of the date paste on a long section of baking paper. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and roll out, using a rolling pin, into an approximately 9x14" layer.
  13. Divide the dough reserved for the date kileche into two sections. Roll one piece into the same size as the date layer.
  14. Line up the date layer over the dough and peel back on one section of the baking paper. Turn the exposed dates towards the dough and press to adhere the dates to the dough. Peel back the remaining sheet of paper. If some of the date paste sticks to the paper, scrape off using a spatula, and fill in where needed on the dough.
  15. Roll the dough into a long tube and flatten it with a rolling pin. Make sure the sealed side is facing down.
  16. Cut into 1-inch sections with a sharp knife.
  17. Repeat with the remaining date paste and the third section of dough.
  18. When you have finished, pierce each kileche with a fork and generously brush the egg wash over the top.
  19. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.