Fit for a Pharaoh

These Rose and Almond cookies are from a selection of recipes from ancient Egypt, specially adapted for today by Jackie Ridley

Ancient Egyptians loved their food, and feasting and drinking were part of the joy of life. Archaeological evidence suggests that even the ordinary citizens were well nourished and enjoyed a wide variety of food.
But only the elite would have enjoyed these exotic cookies, inspired by the perfume of a pharaoh’s garden. They are quick and easy to make, and are delicious on their own or with fruit compote and/or ice cream.

The recipe

Makes approx 21

50g / 2oz barley flour
50g / 2oz unsalted butter
100g / 4oz ground almonds
25g / 1oz honey
1 egg
2 teaspoons rose essence *
2 teaspoons almond oil *
24 unskinned almonds for decoration


* Heat oven to 180ºC / 160ºC fan / gas mark 4
* Sieve flour, add the almonds and mix
* Melt butter, cool slightly, then add honey and egg and beat with a fork
* Make a well in the flour and add the honey mixture
* Mix well
* Add rose essence and almond oil. Mix well
* Roll one teaspoon of mixture into a ball, place on a non-stick or baking parchment-lined tray

* Push an unskinned almond firmly on top of each ball
* Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown

*The rose essence used here can be found in small bottles in good supermarkets. Not to be confused with rose water which is much less concentrated and not suitable here.
*Almond oil is available in good supermarkets. Ordinary almond essence could be used but the result is not as good.

* Jackie Ridley is a museum conservator and author, currently Conservation Director of the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs’ exhibition at the 02 Arena which runs until 31st August.