Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Mango Basbousa (Middle Eastern Semolina / Farina Cake) - Mothers day dessert ideas

Basbousa (Middle Eastern Semolina Cake/ Farina cake)
Basbousa, is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake, made from cooked semolina or farina soaked in simple syrup, coconut is also a popular option to add into this pastry. Orange flower water or rose water is also an optional addition to the simple syrup used in the basbousa.

Since mango season is here in full swing I thought of making this traditional Middle Eastern delight with some fresh mango pulp and the result was beyond delicious.

Mango Basbousa
Semolina based treats are popular throughout the Middle East and parts of Europe. There are, quite frankly, too many semolina cake variations out there. Some recipes call for eggs, others call for yogurt. Some use a honey-based syrup, others use a sugar-based syrup, some syrups are flavored with citrus fruits like orange or tangerine peels and others use spices like cinnamon or cloves.

The word 'basbousa' is Arabic for 'Just a Kiss', and this lovely cake certainly lives up to its' name!

What I loved most about this simple recipe is how dense and dry the cake comes out of the oven, but when you soak it in simple syrup and allow to rest for sometime it magically comes to life. Semolina flour is traditionally always soaked in milk or water for at least 30 minutes prior to using in making any recipe, this one however omits the pre-soaking step, but instead does a post soaking and that idea is beyond genius in my humble opinion.

Intrigued yet?, then read on for my little summery twist to an ancient classic.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 cup = 250 ml capacity
Serves 6


For Basbousa
1 cup semolina (suji/ rava/ farina)
3 tablespoons fresh mango pulp
3 tablespoons yogurt (with its whey i.e. water removed)
4 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) OR melted butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup powdered jaggery (muscovado sugar) OR regular sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt

For the soaking syrup
1/2 cup powdered jaggery (muscovado sugar) OR regular sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons rose water
2 whole green cardamom (slightly crushed)
Pinch of saffron

1 tablespoon butter or oil (for greasing the baking dish)
Baking dish (7 by 7 inches)
5 or 6 almonds or pistachios or a mix of both for garnishing.


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (gas mark 4).

2. Grease the baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil or butter or as needed such that it covers all the sides and base.

3. Pour the yogurt into a fine mesh seive or tea strainer and allow the water to drain off into a bowl kept underneath for 30 minutes.

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together semolina, mango pulp, yogurt, clarified butter (ghee), lemon juice, jaggery OR sugar, salt and baking powder to a smooth batter.

The batter will be thick and not runny.

5. Preline a rectangular or square baking dish with baking paper.

6. Pour the semolina mixture into the baking dish and spread it evenly.

7. With help of a wet knife, draw lines and make cuts of desired size for serving each person. Place an almond or pistachio nut on each piece.

8. Bake in oven for 40 to 45 minutes or till the crust turns golden.

9.Turn off the oven and let the basbousa be in it to keep it warm and till you prepare the sugar syrup.

For the pouring syrup:

10. Heat jaggery OR sugar and water till it starts to boil. You don't need to stir. As soon as it starts to boil add cardamom, lemon juice, rose water and saffron strands. Reduce the heat and cook on low flame for 5 minutes.

11. As the syrup turns thicker, turn off the gas and pour the hot syrup over the hot basbousa.

Enjoy with your favourite cup of tea or coffee.


While adding syrup to the cake, both basbousa as well as the syrup should be hot.

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