Qurabiya (sometimes spelled Ghorabiye) is a type of almond cookie, likely originating in Persia, which had spread to the Ottoman court by at least the 15th century. I haven’t been able to find any remaining period Qurabiya recipes, so instead this is being built on a lot of conjecture and various “traditional” and modern recipes. From what I can tell from a few different sources it was a cookie made from egg white, almond, sugar, and rosewater. Modernly different fats and oils as well as other nuts are added to the recipe. Every recipe is different and all have various flavourings. A modern version that seems quite similar to the references I’ve found is this one for Iranian Almond Cookies. The cookie spread west early and several types of cookie (such as in Greece) have names that are very similar. But what is interesting is to compare early French macarons:
The Accomplish’d lady’s delight (1675):
7. To make Mackroons
Take Almonds, blanch them, and beat them in a Morter, with serced
Sugar mingled therewith, with the white of an Egg, and Rose-water,
then beat them altogether till they are thick as Fritters, then drop
it upon your Wafers, and take it.
Ground almonds, egg white, rosewater, and sugar. It’s virtually the same recipe, though seems to be prepared in a slightly different manner. Italian Almond Cookies (Amaretti di Saronno) which purport to be from the early 1700s are again very similar.
Persian almond cookie (pre 15th century)
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups ground blanched almonds
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 3 tbsp rosewater
- beat egg whites and salt till they form soft peaks
- Mix together almonds, sugar and cardamom
- fold almond mixture and rosewater into egg whites
- form into 1″ balls and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (optional: flatten balls before baking)
Another similar cookie is French biskit bread, such as in Elinor Fettiplace’s recipt book (1604).
To make french biskit bread
Take one pound of almonds blanched in cold water, beat them verie smale, put in some rose water to them, in the beating, wherin some musk hath lien, then take one pound of sugar beaten and searced and beat with your almons, then take the withes of fowre eggs beten and put to the sugar & almonds, then beat it well together, then heat the oven as hot as you doe for other biskit bread, then take a paper & strawe some sugar upon it, & lay two spoonfulls of the stuf in a place, then lay the paper upon a board full of holes, & put them into the oven as fast as you can & so bake them, when they begin to looe somewhat browne they are baked inough.
This seems closer to marzipan (with the equal amounts of sugar and ground almond with rosewater, but is still mixed with beaten egg whites.
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find an earlier version than this, even among French cookery books from the late 16th century.