Articles/Kleeja: A taste from the past

Kleeja: A taste from the past

"الكليجا" كعكة قصيمية توارثتها الأجيال

28 DEC 2019

Source: Alaa Al-Bahrani

Qassimi Homes are famous for their love of kleeja, a special local dessert with a distinctive smell that entices you, especially when mixed with the aroma of Arabic coffee. A form of cookie, it is made by elderly women in the central region who have passed this tradition down from generation to generation. Every year the Kleeja Festival is held in Buraidah and is considered a popular destination for its manufacturers and productive families.

Kleeja was considered one of the main dishes for the upper classes and the wealthy in Qassim region and is gifted to visitors and guests coming from abroad. In addition, it is considered an essential component of gifts offered to brides; this custom is still practiced by some Qassimi families. Also, locals prefer to eat it during the winter season with Arabic coffee and it is highly in demand during the holiday season.

One of the most famous kleeja bakers, Om Bader, has been baking and selling these cookies for over 20 years. Her special recipe has made her popular around the region. She said these cookies used to be made by housewives in one large circle and given to men traveling long distances in the desert. Now, however, people would present kleeja at different occasions including gatherings and wedding ceremonies. Om Bader’s cookies are delivered inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

Bake your own Kleeja


To prepare the dough

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons milk powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup of water

To prepare the filling: 

½ teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon dried black lemon

½ teaspoon ginger

¼ cup black honey


1. To prepare the dough, mix the dry ingredients, add egg, butter and water, and knead using your hands. Leave the dough to set for 30 minutes.

2. Mix the filling by adding the spices to sugar, then add honey and mix well.

3. Divide the dough into small balls and fill each ball with half a teaspoon of the spices mixture.

4. Fold the dough and decorate as desired

5. Bake the kleeja in a preheated oven for 10 minutes