Basbousa | “Just a Kiss” cake

Today, my friend and colleague Ali Abdul Salam brought Basbousa in the office, especially for me! I was surprised. Basbousa is a delicious semolina cake that is soaked in a fragrant syrup and topped with nuts or coconut. It’s super easy to make and perfect for any occasion.

Today is the first day of one of the major Indian calendars – Vikrami Samvat and what a sweet way to begin the New Year! Today is also the first day of a 9-day Hindu festival: Navaratri.

Basbousa has many names and variations depending on the region. In Egypt, where it originated, it is called basbousa or harissa. In other parts of the Middle East, it is known as nammoura, revani, or shamali. In Greece and Turkey, it is called ravani or revani. In some places, it is filled with cream or flavored with orange blossom water or rose water.

The main ingredient of basbousa is semolina, which is a type of coarse wheat flour that gives the cake a nice texture and a golden color. Semolina is mixed with sugar, butter, yogurt, baking powder, and sometimes coconut or almond flour. The batter is spread in a baking pan and cut into diamond or square shapes before baking. Then, a hot syrup made of sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon is poured over the warm cake, making it moist and sweet. The cake is garnished with almonds, pistachios, or coconut flakes.

Basbousa is a very popular dessert in the Middle East, especially during Ramadan and other festive occasions. It can be served warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream if desired. It is also a great dessert to make ahead of time, as it keeps well in the fridge for several days.

Arabic sweets originate from many different cultures due to civilizations that occupied the region, such as the Ottomans and Mamluks. These sweets are very unique in their taste and special ingredients are used when they are made.

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

You made my day today, Ali. Thanks a lot!

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