Pistachio shortbread rings (Ghraybeh w-fustok)

September 3, 2010  •  Category: ,


If there is one common denominator to all Lebanese it is their propensity to discuss politics. The taxi driver, the baker,  the pharmacist, the grocer and everyone else  has definite opinions and feels knowledgeable about the topic.

Yesterday, I was at the grocer’s shop down the street; his shop is about the size of my bathroom in Dallas. When I ask for an item, he grabs a  pole with  a hook and it tumbles down to the floor; the item then  gets  dusted and stuffed in a black plastic bag by his helper.

” Guess what (a leading politician) is planning” says the mini-grocer to his buddy.

Demonstrations, to get the people of Beirut involved!”

“Well, tell him he will be the first one and the last one to show up” retorts the  buddy, sitting  on a cane chair next to him.

Nobody cares about him around here!”

Politics is what people discuss in the street. For hours.  In the US,  discussing politics is not  socially appropriate. Not so  in Lebanon.

In Beirut, you will hear different opinions depending on the neighborhood you happen to be located in at the moment. Politics permeate people’s daily lives.

Well, not to change the subject, but these pistachio shortbread rings called ghraybeh are  traditional Lebanese shortbread cookies; they come in a plain version or a pistachio version.

For a plain version, click here.


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 2 cups  of peeled and chopped pistachios
  • 3/4  cup of powdered sugar
  • a teaspoon of vanilla sugar (substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, very soft


  1. Cream the butter in a mixer for a few minutes until all smooth; add the sugar gradually. Add the vanilla sugar or extract.
  2. Add the flour and cornstarch mixture  to the sugar and butter mixture, gradually as well. Mix well for one minute and when the dough is formed and is shiny and firm (add a bit more flour if it is too wet, one tablespoon at a time), add the chopped pistachios and mix well throughout; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a cool place or the fridge for one hour.
  3. Take lumps of dough with a cookie scoop and form little sticks of about 5 inches in length; join them at both ends and set on a parchment-lined cookie sheet; dab a tiny bit of chopped pistachios on the cookie ring if desired. Bake in a preheated 325F oven till the cookie is firm, for about 15 minutes. It will firm up more as it cools. The bottom of the cookies will be golden and the top whitish. Cool and serve or keep in a tin box for several days and up to one week or so.


47 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Doc says:

    Love the bulgur recipes; guess this satisfies my itch (OK OK bad pun).

  2. Rosa says:

    Gorgeous rings! Mmmhh, perfect with my coffee.



  3. Brian says:

    You can’t go wrong with pistachios… and in shortbread, it’s just delightful!

  4. Heni says:

    I love the plain ones so I am sure this one tastes even better!

  5. Sushma Mallya says:

    looks amazing, lovely idea…

  6. 5 Star Foodie says:

    These sound scrumptious, I love the pistachios and the addition of vanilla sugar!

  7. deeba says:

    Shortbread & pistachio …. luxury in that circle Joumana! Love it, calories & all!

  8. Lyndsey says:

    I love shortbread cookies, I have a ginger shortbread cookie that I make each year around the holidays, (I’m not much of a baker) I want to add this one to my (short) list of cookies I make! Thanks!

  9. Barbara says:

    I’m going to adore these cookies, Joumana! I love pistachios. And shortbread. So how can I go wrong??

  10. TheKitchenWitch says:

    These are so cute, with their little green flecks. What a fun mental picture I have of the crotchety grocer, talking politics in his shop and hooking foodstuffs off the shelves.

  11. elra says:

    Sounds really delightful. I just love everything with pistachio.

  12. Rachana says:

    Scrumptious Cookies! Would be perfect with a cuppa tea 🙂

  13. Dana says:

    Yum! Those look like they would go well at a tea party!

  14. Mika says:

    I love pistachios…These must be delicious…

  15. HPD says:

    for my money, you can’t use pistachios too often.

  16. Susan says:

    These sound delightful! I love shortbread and I love pistachios – a perfect pairing.

  17. Nadji says:

    Mon biscuit préféré.
    A bientôt.

  18. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Oh I adore pistachios. The amount of cornstarch is surprising? And you, are you a political partakers in these conversations when there lol?

  19. SYLVIA says:

    This is a potently tasty cookie that “Wow’s” every time, you eat it without shame but happiness. I love cookies that have companion, the pistachios are like an extra pair of earnings that sassy up an outfit, very festive, and gorgeous Joumana.

  20. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    These look great. Love your stories, always.

  21. Stella says:

    Oh Joumana, this looks like such a traditional cookie recipe judging by the ingredients. I know it’s delicious! Oh, and I like the way some people with openly discuss politics. I always find it very open and nice…

  22. Marie says:

    I have to remember this at Christmas time when I bake cookies, I love everything about these! I’m putting is in my favorites!

  23. Aparna says:

    Gorgeous!! And the pistachios add the icing to the rings!

  24. Olive says:

    yum! these cookies are undoubtedly delicious, for sure it will not last long in our house! 🙂

  25. MaryMoh says:

    Oooh…I love that. I have been making and enjoy shortbread. I should add pistachio nuts to it and make them into ring shapes too. Thanks very much for sharing.

  26. pierre says:

    moi je suis en phase avec les libanais j’adore parler politique il faut que je vienne !! Pierre

  27. Joanne says:

    I try to discus politics as infrequently as possible. They are always a point of contention!

    These rings, though, are undoubtedly delicious! I love pistachio.

  28. Angie's Recipes says:

    I have noticed that you have many recipes involved pistachios…and I love them. This one looks extremely special and yummy!

  29. shayma says:

    love the story, Joumana. Pakistanis and Afghans are the same! If you *dont* discuss politics it means you have no passion, they say…

    on a more relevant note- adore the biscuits and love the photo. x shayma

  30. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Hmmmm…. butter and pistachios: twist my arm!
    Great little lead in story – but, I would like to know more… like, why are you there now again? Why were you in Dallas? Are you staying and why? Most people never go back to live once they live in the West… just to vacation, etc. You can see, I am curious.

  31. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    I love these insights into life in Lebanon just as much as I enjoy the insights into your kitchen.

  32. Adele says:

    These are beautiful! I’ll remember them for Christmas.

  33. Nuts about food says:

    That sounds very Italian too, the talking about politics I mean. The shortbread rings look delightfuly Middle Eastern.

  34. tom @ tall clover says:

    Joumana, your cookie recipes are quickly becoming my favorites. Perhaps that could be the next political debate, “What’s the best Lebanese cookie?”

  35. Lori says:

    Those rings look so good.

  36. OysterCulture says:

    These cookies just look like perfection when I think of what I would want with my tea.

  37. gourmandelise says:

    Ils ont l’air délicieux tes biscuits avec la pistache!

  38. kristy says:

    These shortbread ring looks wonderfully healthy. I wonder how it tastes like!
    Thanks for sharing & hope you’re having a wonderful day.
    Cheers, Kristy

  39. Lentil Breakdown says:

    I loved the nonsequitur of the text to the recipe. Brilliantly entertaining! Oh yeah, and the cookies look good, too. : )

  40. FOODESSA says:

    These remind me of similar cookies we make during Christmas time with almonds instead of pistachios. Will certainly have to give this version a try ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  41. Julie says:

    J’aime beaucoup tes photos, la lumière est douce et met parfaitement en valeur tes biscuits, parfaits pour accompagner le café !!

  42. Soma says:

    These looks intriguing. I might give them a try soon. has no egg, so even better.

  43. Eina A Majid says:

    Hi, Joumana!

    Is powdered sugar similar to icing/confectioner’s sugar or is it castor sugar? Tq

  44. Hasie says:

    Hiya Joumana… these cookies are gorgeous! I just made the plain version for my hubby half an hr ago (couldnt sleep so I decided to make it at 11.30pm n wake up my sleeping neighbours lol!) and guess what!! As soon as I placed it on the plate..Half is gone! He said by tomorrow its all gone! Ya rabbi….. I am back home in Singapore now for holidays frm living in Dubai (hope you remember me 🙂 ) and I couldnt get hold of Middle Eastern groceries much… I found zaatar and pomergranate molases fr my fattoush, I was ecstatic!!! I’ve been hunting fr molokhia n couldnt even find its stem…my family said my taste have changed a bit since I’m hunting fr all things Middle Eastern..but hey..I’ve got to keep my Lebanese hubby’s tummy happy n I cant help it..I’ve been living in Dubai fr more than 8 yrs now.. 🙂 But seriously…I loooove Lebanese food.. and love your vids on youtube too!!! Masalama… 😉

    • Joumana says:

      @Hasie: Of course I remember you! I found some fresh molokhia in Dallas at the Asian supermarket; they use it in Vietnamese food I think, in case there are stores like this in Dubai? Otherwise, there are online sources.Wishing you the best in your hunt and glad the cookies turned out well! 🙂

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