Basbousa – an Egyptian sweet

17 Sep

We’ve been having a bit of a stray cat problem as of late…

Don’t get me wrong… I love cats… the problem is this stray is coming in through our cat door and eating Manja’s (our cat) food. It’s very annoying for Manja because, clearly, a food lover (like her owners), she’s a bit of a delicate eater (unlike her parents). She tends to savour her food, mainly licking up all the gravy first and then a few hours later, come back and eat the meat… and then if she’s still hungry, she munches on her cat biscuits… So really… her cat bowl is never empty – until the arrival of this stray.

Everytime she walks to her cat bowl, she hisses (catching the scent of the stray) and then looks at me with big, sad eyes and meows (saysing “Where’s the rest of my food?!”).

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what was going on… until I caught the stray redhanded. I gave it a big scare but unfortunately… it still keeps coming back.

When we got home yesterday… The Basbousa that I had made this week and left on the kitchen table covered in plastic wrap had a big knaw in the plastic with chunks of cake missing and crumbs all over the table! It was good that we had already eaten half the cake.. but the thought of having to throw away the other half because the stray had helped himself / herself was very annoying. How do you get rid of stray cat without upsetting your own kitty!! Help!!

(Above: Manja – dreaming of smelling the daisies and chasing butterflies… a lover, not a killer)

Strays aside… I wanted to share the joy of this lovely Basbousa that I made. Its not a sweet that I am particularly familiar with, however, I was watching Food Safari on TV the other night – Theme: Egyptian cuisine, and I saw this lovely demonstration of a buttery semolina, coconut cake which I just could not stop thinking about all week. So I decided to give it a try.

I was very excited when I found the receipe on the Food Safari website. Jason thought the cake tasted very much like a turkish delight cake (maybe because of the rose water in the syrup) and did not take to it very much. But I loved it – I think the Stray might have loved it too. It has similar textures and taste to some of the sweet Peranakan sweets that we have back home – in Singapore. I also thought it tasted alot better after a couple days, after it had time for all the flavours to come together.


  • 2 ½ cups coarse semolina
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup self-raising flour
  • 200g thick yoghurt
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • approx 25 blanched almonds
  • Milk if needed
Ingredients for the syrup:
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp rosewater


  1. Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, flour, yoghurt, melted butter and vanilla in a bowl.
  2. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.
  3. Spread in a greased baking tray and cut into diamond shapes.
  4. Place one blanched almond in the centre of each diamond. Bake in an oven at 190°C for 35-40 min until golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, stir sugar and water until sugar dissolves, then simmer for 5 minutes. *do not stir anymore as the sugar will crystalise
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and rosewater.
  7. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  8. Pour the cooled syrup over the cake while the cake is still hot and let it stand until it reaches room temperature.
  9. Serve up.
  10. P/S: Cake is best eaten warm – you can warm it up for about 15-20 sec in the microwave and then dig in.

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