This basbousa is made with semolina flour, almonds, coconut and a delicious rose water scented sugar syrup. It’s so delicious and so easy to make!

This basbousa is made with semolina flour, almonds, coconut and a delicious rose water scented sugar syrup. It's so delicious and so easy to make!

Welcome to the second post of The Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was lucky to receive the blogger Avanika of the delicious site Yumsilicious Bakes. As I searched through her recipes I found several I wanted to make. It’s always so hard to make a decision….ahhh!

I finally settled on a recipe called basbousa. I had never heard of this particular dessert so it immediately peaked my interest. In her post Avanika said it’s a traditional Middle Eastern dessert that is similar to the Indian dessert Coconut Halva.

This basbousa is made with semolina flour, almonds, coconut and a delicious rose water scented sugar syrup. It's so delicious and so easy to make!

The coconut flavor is mild but definitely present.  It’s has a dense bar cookie texture and the syrup gives it just the right amount of sweetness.  This was also my first time using rose water. I was worried it would add too much of a floral taste but happily it worked perfectly with all the other flavors.  I made no changes to the recipe except for the fact that I didn’t blanch my almonds. The best part about this recipe is that it’s a breeze to make. Everything gets mixed together and into the pan it goes.  What can be simpler than that?

This basbousa is made with semolina flour, almonds, coconut and a delicious rose water scented sugar syrup. It's so delicious and so easy to make!



This basbousa is made with semolina flour, almonds, coconut and a delicious rose water scented sugar syrup. It's so delicious and so easy to make!


For Cake:

  • 1 stick [1/2 cup, 113 g] butter - melted
  • 3/4 cup [210 g] granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup [75 g] flour
  • 1 1/4 cup [275 g] semolina flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2 cup [150 g] unsweetened desiccated coconut - make sure you use desiccated, shredded tends to absorb moisture, and make it pudding-y!
  • 3/4 cup [220 g] milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • blanched whole almonds, for decoration

For Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoon[110 g] granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup [125 g] water
  • 1/2 tablespoon rose water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 F [180 C], grease a 9x11 pan or use a 9 inch tart pan.

Mix together all the ingredients for the cake, except the blanched almonds.

Pour it into the pan, score into diamond shapes, and add almonds to each piece[This is the traditional way to do it, and the almonds look really good when baked]

Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top browns.

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Boil together the sugar, water and rose water, if using, until no sugar granules remain. Take off the heat, and add the lemon juice.

Pour onto a slightly cooled cake. The syrup will pool on top, don't worry. It will all get absorbed, and give the most amazing texture. Give the 'cake' a few hours to soak up all the syrup, and then cut along the scored lines.

46 Responses to “Basbousa”

  1. #
    Heather @girlichef — May 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

    OH my goodness…this is BEAUTIFUL! I would love to make this (but love to eat it even more).

  2. #
    Megan'sCookin' — May 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

    What a wonderful looking dessert.

  3. #
    BigFatBaker — May 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Wow, this is so pretty! I haven’t worked with rose water either, and I have been wanting too. This sounds like a great recipe! Have wonderful monday!

  4. #
    Amanda — May 16, 2011 at 11:22 am

    That is very impressive looking! Anything with almonds wins my heart anyway 🙂 Thanks for playing along again!

  5. #
    Dana — May 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Ohh so pretty! I love halva, so I bet I would enjoy this, too. Great choice!

  6. #
    Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies — May 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    What a wonderful way to learn about this new and delicious looking dessert. Good for you for trying new ingredients.

  7. #
    Sue — May 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Gorgeous and tasty, I’m sure! This LOOKS like a pastry(shakar lokoom) my Armenian mom used to make, though the ingredients are different. I’ll have to make it soon:) Also, I just made some cupcakes using rose water(we’re on the same wave-length) too:) I’ll be posting it later today:)
    I’ll have to look into The Secret Recipe Club.

  8. #
    Erica — May 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    What a beautiful treat! I’ve never heard of basbousa, but I’m a pretty big fan of anything that involves coconut 🙂

  9. #
    Joanne — May 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Now that I have an Indian roommate whose mom likes to shower us with halva as often as possible, I have to say I’m quite addicted to the stuff! I’d love to try this to see if it tastes similar! No matter what, I’m sure it’ll be delicious!

  10. #
    Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) — May 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Ooh so I should expect more recipes from my blog to be tried by you? 😉

    Your basbousa looks perfect, and very pretty. Wayy better than mine. Great choice too! Its a staple in my house.

  11. #
    Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks! — May 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    What a beautiful dish!

  12. #
    brandi@BranAppetit — May 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    this looks incredible! so simple, but so beautiful.

  13. #
    Feast on the Cheap — May 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Beautiful photos! I’d never heard of this either, but definitely looks like a baking success

  14. #
    Emily @Cleanliness — May 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I want to eat this.

    And eat it now.


  15. #
    Heavenly Housewife — May 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve heard of this, but I dont think I’ve ever tried it. It sounds yummylicious!
    *kisses* HH

  16. #
    Mimi — May 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Sounds delicious and looks gorgeous.

  17. #
    jennifer (savor) — May 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thrilled to have taken part in the SRC with you and discovered new blogs!

  18. #
    sara — May 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    This looks so good! I love all the different flavors – they sound like they’d go really well together! Yum!!! 🙂

  19. #
    Katrina — May 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    That does look super pretty and delicious! Awesome, Brandy.

  20. #
    Kristen — May 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I haven’t heard of this either. That’s the fabulous thing about this Secret Recipe Club; it opens up a whole world of culinary possibilities!

  21. #
    Shumaila — May 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I have been on a coconut rampage, and everywhere I look I see a coconut recipe- its like the coconut gods want me to have it more and more! (Seriously, I am not kidding- just look at the SRC blog hop- its dominated by coconut recipes!) Never had a basbousa, but love middle eastern desserts, and if you serious when you say it tastes like coconut halwa- I am sold!

  22. #
    Blond Duck — May 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    The name alone is intriguing!

  23. #
    Rachel @ Rachel's Recipe Reviews — May 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Yum, looks good! And so beautiful!

  24. #
    Shelby — May 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Coconut and almond….you cannot go wrong! Sounds like a great treat!

  25. #
    Jeanette — May 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I’ve never heard of basbousa either so thanks for trying this recipe for the Secret Recipe Club!

  26. #
    Maris (In Good Taste) — May 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    How lovely this is! I am bookmarking it for sure!

  27. #
    megan @ whatmegansmaking — May 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I’m seeing this recipe club everywhere, and it sounds so fun! This looks great 🙂

  28. #
    Nicole — May 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Halva is one of my favorite treats so I am excited to make this.

  29. #
    Deeba — May 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    What an amazing pick from Avs blog for the SRC. I’ve never made this before and I want to very soon. Love that you set it in a tart pan. Not blanching the almonds adds to the rustic beauty. The contrast is moorish … well done indeed!

  30. #
    Tessa — May 17, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I also made a recipe that was something different from what I would typically choose. Part of the fun of others’ blogs. Your bars look like they turned out great!

  31. #
    Marla — May 17, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I have never heard of this either but I love it. Also love the way you sliced it into diamond shapes 🙂

  32. #
    Winnie — May 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Brandy I LOVE this! I adore hearing about beautiful and delicious dishes from other cultures…thanks to you and Avanika for introducing me to Basbousa!

  33. #
    Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy — May 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Wow, I wouldn’t even know where to find rose water! These look really good.

  34. #
    Tami — May 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Looks delish! Have never heard of basbousa before but I’ve had halva from my days of working at a specialty candy store in my (much) younger years. I would love the coconut flavor.

  35. #
    Ruchi — May 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Looks delicious! And the almonds on top add such a nice touch to it…

  36. #
    Lyndsey — May 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    This is perfect, I would love a bit of this too!

  37. #
    christo/doggybloggy — May 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    you do have my address dont you? I will be sitting by my mail box waiting for my little care package – thank you very much!

  38. #
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — May 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I’ve never heard of this, either, but oh my goodness it sounds so delicious! I just have to try this one myself!

  39. #
    Delishhh — May 18, 2011 at 12:23 am

    wow – i had never heard of this before i read this post. Very impressive, love your decor on it and i wish i could just taste it. I guess i have to try it out 🙂

  40. #
    judee@glutenfreeA-Z Blog — May 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    My mother in law makes Basbousa and it is delicious. Yours looks great!

  41. #
    Biren @ Roti n Rice — May 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    This sounds and looks really good. I have been looking for a recipe using semolina. I might just give this a try.

  42. #
    grace — May 20, 2011 at 6:22 am

    i love the subtle bit of coconut here, and the syrup sounds heavenly! on top of all that, the appearance is enchanting. 🙂

  43. #
    sarah, simply cooked — May 22, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Ah, I have tried this before when my Egyptian friend brought some back from a trip to Egypt. It is sweet, dense, and delicious. I am happy to see that it’s easy to make, too! Beautiful pictures.

  44. #
    Beverly — June 20, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I am looking to make basbousa for my daughter’s Ancient Egyptian birthday party. I want to check on a detail here: is the dessicated coconut supposed to be sweetened or unsweetened? Apparently it’s available both ways, and it might make a big difference. Thanks!

    • admin replied: — June 20th, 2011 @ 10:37 am

      Hi Beverly,

      I used unsweetened dessicated coconut. I was not aware that you kind find it sweetened. I made a change in the recipe just in case anyone else had the same question. I hope your daughter likes the Basbousa and the party sounds like a blast!


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