Icun in Somali means ‘eat me’ and believe me you will eat and eat these crumbly shortbread biscuits that just melt in the mouth. They are usually made for festive days, but in our household we don’t wait for a special day. Any day and everyday is icun day!
I wonder how shortbread in this form came to the Somali people as shortbread is famously known as a Scottish treat. Did we learn this recipe from the British who colonised parts of our land? Or is it a Somali invention as I’d like to believe? I was intrigued to learn that in medieval Europe shortbread evolved from leftover bread dough to which some bright mind eliminated yeast, added butter and then baked. Another story has it that shortbread was invented in the kitchens of Mary, Queen of Scots in the mid-16th century.
There are many Somali varieties of icun or qureebaad as we also call this delicious shortbread. This version, which incorporates nutmeal, is my favourite. Dust with icing sugar and serve with tea.
Somali Shortbread Biscuits (Qureebaad ama Icun)
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup nutmeal (peanut, almond or hazelnut)
2 cups warm melted butter or ghee
2 teaspoons ground cardamom powder
A little milk if the dough requires more binding.
1. Grease a biscuit pan with some of the melted butter
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together
3. Make a hole in the middle and pour in the warm butter slowly, adding it a little at a time to make a soft dough. Add a little milk if the dough needs more binding.
4. Shape the dough into small balls with your hands and flatten into a small disc shape.
5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes in a medium heat oven or until golden brown.