Namoura (basbousa) is a Middle Eastern semolina cake with sugar syrup. Namoura has a sweet, floral taste and is served cut into diamonds or squares topped with a single almond piece.
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What is Namoura?
Namoura is a decadent Middle Eastern semolina cake sans regular flour and is drizzled in simple syrup known as atter.
It is also referred to as Harissa or Basbousa. It is a traditional dessert with a rich history.
Namora is believed to have originated in the Middle East and has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a popular dessert in many countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon.
Namoura is pronounced as ‘Nam-moo-ra’ in Arabic and is written as نمورة
My Lebanese family calls it either harissa or namoura. This a vegan namoura recipe, and my favorite parts are the cake edges of the tray, they are extra caramelized and crunchy.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's dairy free (vegan)
- Super delicious and decadent, great as a dessert or snack
- Easy to make, the ingredients are straight forward to work with
- A small piece is all you need to satisfy your sugar cravings
Ingredients You'll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
White sugar yields the best results (brown sugar will not turn out the same)
Rosewater for flavoring, you can substitute this with orange blossom water. I always use a good-quality brand such as Cortas (affiliate link).
Water at room temperature and filtered preferred
Dairy free butter - traditionally full-fat butter is used, however dairy free works just as good
Coarse semolina is preferred as it makes namoura less dense, however, you can opt to use fine semolina too, or perhaps even mix both evenly. Semolina is known as ‘smeed’ in Arabic, and gives a wonderful crunchy grainy texture.
Bicarbonate soda helps to leaven this Middle Eastern semolina cake, I like using a pure bicarb soda with no alumium.
Baking powder works hand in hand with the bicarb as a leavening agent
Salt enhances the flavor. I prefer to use pink Himalayan salt
Coconut yogurt to replace full-fat yogurt, you can use any dairy-free yogurt.
Almonds, 1 per piece is used as decoration, this can be swapped for pine nuts if preferred.
Tahini (sesame seed paste) is needed to coat the baking tray which helps the semolina cake to not stick to it.
Variation: Add ½ a cup of desiccated coconut when adding all other ingredients to the dough.
How To Make Namoura
First, make the sugar syrup called atter. In a saucepan, add water, sugar, dairy free butter and rose water, stir through, and bring to a boil for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool down to room temp.
Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl add semolina (affiliate link) and the dairy free butter, and combine using your hands until a dough forms. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients. Once the dough has rested, crumble it using your fingers and then add, sugar, rose water, bicarb soda, baking powder, salt, and coconut yogurt and combine using your fingers. Using your fingers to combine all the ingredients to the dough is important as it helps to keep the dough light rather than compact.
Prepare the baking tray. Coat the baking tray with tahini (affiliate link) and flatten the dough as evenly as possible.
Cut into pieces. Use a slightly wet knife to push the edges down and off the tray and then cut into squares or diamond pieces and place one almond in the middle of each piece
Bake the namoura. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C (356F), place in the middle of the oven for the first 15 minutes, and then move it to the top for the last 15 minutes. Baking time is approximately 30min or until lightly golden
Pour the sugar syrup evenly and generously over the baked namoura covering every part of it. Allow to cool down to room temp before taking the pieces out. Namoura should not be dry and will soak in a lot of the sugar syrup. The top layer of namoura is golden and crunchy whilst the inside is pale yellow, soft, and fluffy.
Tip: slightly wet knife helps the dough not stick to the knife when cutting it into pieces.
My mother’s hot tip is to make the dough the night before, she explains it produces a less dense cake. So the more resting time the better.
Naturally, tahini will have a layer of oil at the top of the jar, use the top layer of tahini with the oil to brush the baking tray with, this is will help the cake not stick. This also adds a hint of a nuttier flavor
If you wish to opt-out of using the dairy free butter in the simple syrup, you can do so. However, this step really helps give namoura a beautiful sheen.
You may need to recut the cut semolina cake once it cools down to take out the pieces.
Namoura pairs perfectly with tea or coffee - try this deliciously easy-to-make foam coffee.
Namoura can be stored in a snap-lock container in a cool pantry for several days. Or covered in the fridge. Ensure that it is fully cooled to room temperature before storing.
This is dependent on your preference, both are equally delicious. Placing the batter into a smaller tray will yield a softer cake-like result, as the batter isn't spread out and will stay moist. For a crunchier namoura, place your batter into a larger tray to allow it to spread thinner (about an inch, 2.5cm).
Namoura is made from semolina, butter, rose water, yogurt, baking powder and baking soda, tahini, sugar and salt. It is then drizzled with simple sugar syrup called atter.
No. Namoura is not gluten free as it contains semolina which is made out of wheat.
Here are a few other vegan Middle Eastern desserts:
Haytaliyeh Vegan Lebanese Milk Pudding - A light and fragrant pudding best-served cold
Sfouf Lebanese semolina turmeric cake - A gorgeous golden Middle Eastern semolina cake, that is different to this recipe
Lebanese rice pudding riz bi haleeb - another fragrant pudding but with rice which can be served warm or cold
Atayef - delicious nut-stuffed pancakes from the Middle East
Here is a delicious guide to vegan Lebanese dessert recipes, I am sure there is something in this list that will catch your eye.
Did you make this? I'd love to know! Leave me a comment below with a ★★★★★ rating or tag @plantbasedfolk on social media.
Vegan Namoura (Basbousa Recipe)
Sugar Syrup (Atter)
- 2 cups White sugar
- 1 cup Water
- 2 tablespoon Rose water substitute with orange water
- ½ tbsp Vegan butter
Sugar Syrup (Atter)
- In a saucepan, add water, sugar, dairy free butter and rose water, stir through and bring to the boil for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool down to room temp.2 cups White sugar, 1 cup Water, 2 tablespoon Rose water, ½ tablespoon Vegan butter
- In a large mixing bowl add semolina and dairy free butter, combine well using hands until a dough forms. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for a minimum of 30 minutes.3 cups Coarse semolina, 1 cup Vegan butter
- Once dough has rested, crumble dough using your fingers and add sugar, rose water, bicarb soda, baking powder, salt, coconut yoghurt and combine using your fingers.1 tablespoon Rose water, 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate soda, 1 pinch Salt, 1½ teaspoon Baking powder, ½ cup White sugar, 1 cup Coconut yogurt
- Coat baking tray 22cm (9") x 33cm (13") with tahini and flatten dough as evenly as possible.1 teaspoon Tahini
- Use a knife to push the edges down and off the tray and then cut into squares or diamond pieces and place one almond in the middle of each piece30 Almonds
- Bake in a preheated oven of 180C (356F), place in the middle of the oven for the first 15 minutes and then move it to the top for the last 15 minutes. Baking time is approximately 30min or until lightly golden
- Evenly pour a generous amount of sugar syrup over baked namoura. Allow to cool down to room temp before taking the pieces out
- Using your fingers to combine all the ingredients to the dough is important as it helps to keep the dough light.
- Slightly wet knife when cutting dough into squares, helps the dough not stick to the knife
- Use enough sugar syrup to completely cover every part of the namoura in the tray.
- Alternatively to the previous point, you could soak it just enough and then offer extra sugar syrup with each piece, leaving it up to individual discretion
- Namoura should not be dry and will soak in a lot of the sugar syrup
- The top layer of namoura is golden and crunchy whilst the inside is a pale yellow, soft and fluffy. The semolina gives a wonderful crunchy grainy texture.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
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