About This Komaj Recipe
Originating from Iran, Komaj are wonderful, enriched buns infused with turmeric and cumin; spices of which are native to this area. Both these spices are grown in abundance in the area and are often found in Iranian dishes.
Due to the very high-calorie ingredients in the pastry, eating a piece of it with a glass of milk provides a feeling of satiety and is a common addition to many dishes at a Persian dinner table or a cup of tea in the mid-afternoon.
The dough is quite firm when kneading and filling the buns – traditionally the dough is rolled out and a cookie cutter is used to cut out discs, fill and then seal together like a patty. However, these often split and become misshapen when baking, which is why in this recipe I use a more common method of filling buns ensuring the perfect round shape and no leakage!
Traditionally, these are cut into heart shapes, but as not everyone has single-use equipment, it’s becoming more common for these filled buns to be made in a more simple round shape.
What You Need for This Komaj Recipe
- Strong White Bread Flour – The best flour for doughs enriched with eggs and butter. The high protein level in bread flour allows the dough to lift all those heavy fats into a wonderful fluffy bun.
- Sugar – Not only does sugar do the obvious and add sweetness, but it also helps feed the yeast during its rise.
- Salt – Salt is crucial in all bakes. It should not be limited to savoury dishes only as salt will always bring out any flavours in any bakes.
- Olive Oil – The best oil for blending flavours and lifting them to new realms. It also compliments the cumin seeds beautifully.
- Egg – Whole eggs have two purposes in the dough. The egg yolk adds fat, and we all know fat means flavour, whilst the egg white adds stability and structure to the dough. This is important so the dough doesn’t collapse whilst baking resulting in a dense bake.
- Milk – Unlike water, milk tenderizes the gluten in the dough without breaking it down. This means your bakes will be incredibly tender and fluffy.
- Turmeric – Adds a beautifully earthy background note to the dough, as well as that striking sunshine colour. Turmeric is also said to improve circulation in the body.
- Cumin Seeds – A little smokiness with a punch of flavour. Toasting these seeds bring out extra smokiness and background flavour.
- Dates – Dates are incredibly fudgy and speak volumes on their own. The flavour blend of butter, dates and cardamom in this filling marry beautifully.
- Butter – Fat is flavour, yes, but it also acts as a binder in the filling as well as ensuring the dates don’t dry out as they bake.
- Cardamom – arguably one of the most aromatic spices used globally in sweet bakes. Common in Middle Eastern and Scandinavian cuisine, cardamom adds warmth and a little brightness to the entire bake.
- Prunes – If you don’t fancy using fresh dates or you live in a part of the world that they aren’t as easily available, you can always substitute the dates for an equal amount of prunes.
- Cumin Seeds – If you’re not a fan of cumin seeds, you can halve the amount and substitute with caraway seeds.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! You can make both the filling and dough ahead of time. Follow the recipe and instead of letting the dough rise at room temperature, pop it into the fridge overnight for a slow prove. The next day, carry on with the recipe and shape it into individual rolls.
Where can I find dates?
Most supermarkets will carry a range of dates, if you can’t find medjool you can use other dates that have the stones removed. If you’re struggling to find them in a supermarket, a specialist or a green-grocer will almost definitely have them! Health food shops will also carry dried dates.
Persian Date Bread with Turmeric and Cumin (Komaj)
A staple in Iranian cuisine and culture, Komaj or Persian Date Bread are adorable little rolls flavoured with turmeric and cumin seeds with a fudgy date and cardamom filling. Perfect to accompany dinners and a wonderful sweet treat to be enjoyed with tea in the afternoon.
Yield: 6 Buns
To toast the cumin seeds, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and tumble in the seeds for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it reaches room temperature before stirring in the yeast. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to become lively and a little frothy.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pour in the yeasted milk along with the olive oil, egg, ground turmeric and cumin seeds, and knead for 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Cover and allow to double in size (1 hour approximately).
Meanwhile, chop the dates and combine them with the butter and ground cardamom. Cover and put to one side.
Once the dough has proved, knock the air back and divide into 6 equal pieces. Flatten each piece of the dough into a disc between your palms and spoon some of the date filling inside.
Pinch the edges together in the centre to enclose the filling and roll between your palms to create a tight ball. Repeat with the remaining dough before covering and allowing the dough pieces to double in size once more.
Once you’re nearing the end of the second prove, preheat your oven to 400F. Beat an egg and using a pastry brush, wash over the tops of the buns and sprinkle with a few extra cumin seeds.
Bake for 12-14 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing the buns to cool on a wire rack. Dust with a little confectioner's sugar and serve.
These rolls are best eaten on the day of baking, although you can reheat them the next day in a gentle oven for 5-10 minutes.