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Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I have been meaning to write this post for a while now. And finally today I was able to get it done which I feel is great timing...  being the first week of Ramadan :-)

Several weeks ago me and Rana... a pal of mine... got together at her place to make this delicious traditional Iraqi dessert called basbousa. It was a lot of fun making this with her. To start off  we went to the Whole Foods near Wallingford to gather some ingredients. And while we were shopping for stuff we ran into Fabio who coincidentally was there promoting something. Still looking good.... front and back :-)

Anyhow, back to the basboussa .... very easy to make and so melt in your mouth awesome good! The texture is very similar to a super moist dense cake. The sweetness comes from the sugar within the dough and also from a sugar syrup which is poured onto the dessert after it is done baking.  Rana was nice enough to share her mother's recipe. We could only find fine semolina at Whole Foods but she recommends using the coarse kind which I believe you can get easily at Mayuri. You can also choose from several different flavors like cardamom, rose water or orange blossom water. We decided on vanilla and fresh lemon :-)


Fine semolina 1 cup ------> I use 1:1 fine and coarse semolina 
Unsweetened coconut flakes 3/4 cup
Raw cane sugar 1 cup   ---->  I prefer using 1/2 cup sugar now
Greek yogurt 1 cup
Melted butter 1/4 cup
Pure vanilla extract 1 tsp
Baking soda 1/4 tsp
Fresh lemon rind 1/2 Tbs
Blanched almonds 1/4 - used for garnish
Simple syrup 1 1/4 cup - used later
Water 1 cup
Raw cane sugar 1 cup ------> I prefer using 3/4 sugar now
Fresh lemon juice 2-3 Tbs
Boil lemon juice, sugar and water in a pot and let it simmer on medium heat for about 10 mins. Make sure you stir for a bit in the beginning other wise the sugar could burn.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine semolina, coconut flakes, sugar, yogurt, butter, vanilla, baking soda and lemon rind in a large mixing bowl.
Use a wooden spatula or knead with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients together. This would take a few minutes and the result should be a lump free, slightly sticky and semi hard dough.
Spread the mixture in an 8" square baking dish, no need to butter the dish.
Make sure the surface is super smooth and very even because this is a hard dough and it won't spread much during baking.
Let this sit on the countertop for about an hour - a necessary step for the semolina to get soft.
Make diamonds or squares and cut the dough into pieces with a knife... like you would for brownies.
Again smooth out any edges that might have become rough while cutting.
Place an almond in the center of each piece and gently press it down.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until light golden brown.
Once baked and out of the oven, reinforce all the cut marks with a knife, this will allow the syrup to get fully absorbed.
Immediately pour the warm sugar syrup on top of it and let it soak for about 10-15 mins atleast.
This dessert tastes best slightly warm. We had this with some Turkish coffee, killer combo! MmMmmmMMm! :-)


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