BASbūsah – Semolina Cake

Another addition to my recipes of Rose and Pistachios…..
Basbūsah or the semolina cake is Arabian desert that has a crisp golden crust. Just the aroma of this dish takes me on a stroll to the arabian markets. I am instantly transported into the markets where there are dry flowers all around me and lamps hanging everwhere and garlands of dried vegetable, flowers and herbs hanging.
I can imagine myself sitting in one of the small cafes sipping on a citrus tea and having one of these slices of Basbūsah…
The rich looking slices, with rose essence, soaked in sugar syrup and generously topped with pistachios, almonds and rose petals makes this dish so divine..

2 cups – Coarse semolina
1/4 cup- Caster sugar
1 ½ tsp – Baking powder
1 tsp – Ground mahlab (optional)
1 cup – Yoghurt
100 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp – Rose water
1 tbsp – Orange blossom water

Handful of raw almonds, pistachios, peanuts, dry rose petals or pine nuts to decorate.

Note: You can skip orange blossom water and mahlab as it may not be easily available.

Sugar Syrup
1 cup – Sugar
1/2 cup – Water
1 tsp – lemon juice
1 tsp – Rosewater
1 tsp – Orange blossom water



Grease a 30 cm x 20 cm baking tray with butter.
Combine the semolina, sugar, baking powder and mahlab (if using) in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre then add the yoghurt, butter, rose and orange water and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and smooth the surface. Make shallow slice impressions measuring 4 cm x 4 cm and dot each piece with your preferred nut. Set aside for 1 hour.

Meanwhile to make the sugar syrup combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 7–8 minutes until a light syrup forms. Add the lemon juice, remove from heat and add the rose and orange water. Set aside to cool.


Preheat oven to 180ºC. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45–50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove tray from the oven and while still hot, cut the slices along the impressions, then pour over cooled sugar syrup.

Serve with a generous topping of sliced nuts and rose petals.




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