Namoura is a one-bowl Lebanese semolina cake that comes together really quickly and is super delicious! It has a unique texture and its drenched in simple syrup after baking, which makes it irresistible. If you love easy desserts, this is for you.
What is Namoura?
Namoura is actually the Lebanese name for this dessert, but it is also known as Basbousa in Egypt, Harissa in Palestine/Jordan, and Revani in Turkey and Persia. Each region has their own take on this dessert, but one thing is common amongst all: it is a semolina cake that is served with almond on top and drenched in syrup.
If you've never head of semolina, its actually a type of flour made from durum wheat (a type of wheat grown in the Middle East). It is available in various sizes, ranging from really fine to coarse. In this recipe, I use coarse semolina for the best texture, but some people do a mix of fine and coarse.
The most thing I love about Namoura is:
- It comes together in one bowl, you just dump and mix
- It uses pantry ingredients (you just need to make sure you have the Semolina)
- It is unique in texture and great for a change from your average cake
This recipe was adapted by my beautiful Lebanese friend Nadia - you must check her out!
Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe
Like I said, these are for the most part your average pantry ingredients. If you've never purchased Semolina before, look for it in the baking aisle of your grocery store. You may only find the fine type, so I suggest you also check your local Middle Eastern shop for the coarse variety.
I also use thick cream in my recipe because I find it adds a great richness. It comes in a small can (Puck and Nestle are the brands I use) and it is the consistency of yogurt, but if you can't find it, you can replace with more Greek yogurt.
Finally, if you don't have orange blossom water, you can substitute rose water or skip it all together.
How to make this recipe
- Make the simple syrup by mixing together sugar, water and a squeeze of lemon, then bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to cool to room temperature
- Start the Namoura by mixing your dry ingredients together in a bowl: semolina, coconut, sugar, baking power and baking soda
- Next, add the wet (Greek yogurt, cream, milk, melted butter, orange blossom water) ingredients and mix well with a spoon or using your hands
5. Score the top of your namoura with a knife. Start by making straight lines about 1.5 inches apart, then make lines running diagonally to result in diamond shapes. You can also cut them into squares and adjust the size to your liking.
6. Add an almond to the centre of each piece, using the scoring as a guide
7. Bake it at 400F for about 45 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remember, if you're using a larger pan, your Namoura will be less thick and therefore will require less baking time. Keep an eye on it!
8. As soon as it is out of the oven, pour the cool syrup on the hot Namoura. Leave it to soak up all the syrup for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Don't worry if the syrup seems like its too much - let it all soak!
9. Cut the Namoura into pieces and serve immediately.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Is Basbousa the same as Namoura? Yes - they are the same thing! Basbousa is the Egyptian version and Namoura is the Lebanese.
What is Namoura made of? Namoura is typically made using coarse Semolina, Greek yogurt, coconut, butter or ghee, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
Here are a few of my best tips when you're making Namoura:
- Make sure your batter is not too thick - a thick batter leads to a dry namoura. That's why I add milk and cream to the batter, so make sure you follow the recipe closely!
- Don't overbake it - overbaking (as with any dessert) will dry it out, so make sure you're keeping an eye on it and taking it out as soon as it is golden brown and solid in the middle. If you check on it and jiggle the pan, make sure it is not moving/bouncing in the middle. You can also insert a knife to make sure it is cooked through. Remember that the cooking time may be different if you used a larger pan than me.
- Don't skimp on the sugar syrup! It might seem like it would be too sweet, but it really needs it to get really moist. And the ratio in this recipe is just perfect!
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Namoura (Basbousa Recipe)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 squeeze lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water optional
- 3 cups coarse semolina
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- 1 cup melted butter
- 1 cup full fat greek yogurt
- ½ cup thick cream optional
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 15 whole almonds for decorating
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Add all ingredients to a pot, stir and bring to a boil. Turn to medium heat and simmer for roughly 10 minutes. Add the orange blossom water if using, and leave to cool to room temperature on the counter.
- Mix all dry ingredients (semolina, sugar, coconut, baking powder, baking soda) together very well with a spoon.
- Add the wet ingredients (Greek yogurt, cream, milk, and melted butter) and mix well. Feel free to use your hands to ensure everything is well incorporated. Allow the batter to rest for 20 minutes.
- Grease a circular or rectangular pan with tahini or butter (I used a 23cm pan but depends on your preferred thickness - it rises slightly).
- Add the mixture into the pan and flatten it using a spoon.
- Score the top of the batter in diamond shapes to make cutting it easier after baking. You can cut into any shape. Place the almonds in the centre of each piece.
- Bake at 400 F for 45 mins until golden brown. Note that baking time will vary depending on your pan size. If using a larger pan and the namoura is thinner, start by halving this baking time and check it regularly (see notes)
- Remove from oven and pour sugar syrup on top right away and leave it 30 mins to soak it all in.
- Cut namoura using a sharp knife to avoid crumbling and serve.
- For this recipe, I used a 9" circular pan. If you're using a larger pan, the Namoura will be slightly flatter than pictured, which is totally fine. However, you need to be mindful of baking time. I would halve the baking time and check it every 5 minutes until it is cooked through if you're using a larger pan and have a thinner Namoura. Careful not to overbake it or it will taste dry!
- If you don't have orange blossom water, feel free to replace with rose water or skip it all together