Basbousa with pistachio and almond

Basbousa with pistachio and almond.
Basbousa with pistachio and almond. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Basbousa is a classic semolina cake, cooked throughout the Middle East and around the Mediterranean. My meme made it when I was growing up, using honey and rosewater, but she never worked from a recipe, all by feel. This is my version.


450g fine semolina

220g castor sugar

200g thick plain yoghurt

50g desiccated coconut

50g almond meal

75g self-raising flour

60ml milk

200g melted butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

About 30 bright-green shelled pistachios

About 30 blanched almonds

Rose petals, optional


300g castor sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp rosewater


1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan-forced or 190 degrees conventional. Butter a shallow baking tin about 30 centimetres wide - square or round is fine.

2. In a large bowl, mix the semolina, sugar, yoghurt, coconut, almond meal, flour, milk, butter and vanilla until well combined. The mix will be a dense paste.

3. Spread into the baking tin, pushing it flat with a spatula. Cut into a four-centimetre diamond pattern and dot each diamond with a pistachio and an almond. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.

4. While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Boil the sugar with 200 millilitres of water for three minutes. Take off the heat, add the lemon juice and rosewater, then cool.

5. Once cooked, remove from the oven and while still hot, pour the syrup over. Cool and decorate with rose petals (if using).