Namoura- Lebanese Semolina Cake

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Namoura is a popular classic Middle Eastern dessert made with semolina flour and yogurt, and topped with a sweet sugar water syrup flavored with rose water. Namoura cake is easy to make and comes together in just one bowl – no mixer required.

Namoura cake is also known as Basbousa or Harissa depending on which part of the Middle East you are. In Lebanon it’s called Namoura or Namoora.

What You’ll Need to Make Lebanese Semolina Cake:

(Scroll all the way down to recipe card, for exact measurements and a printable option.)

Semolina Flour:  Semolina is flour made from durum wheat. It’s most commonly used in making pasta, it gives this cake a light and crumbly texture.

Yogurt: Full or low fat plain yogurt works great.

Sugar: You will need some for the cake mixture and some for making the sugar syrup.

Butter: Unsalted.

Baking Powder and baking soda.

Rose water: or orange blossom water.

Lemon slice: or Lemon Juice

How to Make Simple Sugar Syrup for Middle Eastern Sweets:

Most of the sweetness in Namoura cake comes from this simple sugar water syrup. In a small sauce pan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Add a slice of lemon or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and rosewater if you’d like, for extra flavor. Allow simple syrup to cool down completely before pouring over the hot baked sheet cake. You can adjust the amount of simple syrup you use on this Semolina Cake. If you’d like less sweetness , reduce the measurements in the simple syrup by a third or by half.

simple sugar syrup- rose water syrup

How to Make Namoura- Basbousa Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F, and line a nonstick half sheet pan (12 inch x 17 inch) with parchment paper. Grease the parchment sheet with baking spray and set aside.
  • In a large size bowl, whisk together the semolina, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
namoura recipe
  • Stir in the butter and yogurt and rose water/ orange blossom, until combined. You might need to use your hands.
namoura with yogurt and butter
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, wet your hands with water and and spread it out evenly.
  • Score the batter into 1-inch square or diamond shapes with a butter knife and place 1 raw almond in the center of each diamond.
namoura spread on a baking tray
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the sides and top are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and pour sugar syrup evenly all over it, immediately.
namoora- basbousa covered with sugar syrup
  • Cut the cake along the lines you scored.
  • Let the cake come to room temperature to absorb the syrup before serving. Enjoy!
Namoura Lebanese- Basbousa arabic Sweets- Basbousa Cake

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make namoura recipe without yogurt?

Yes, you can substitute 1 cup of yogurt for 3/4 cup of buttermilk.

Can I make vegan namoura?

Yes! Since Namoura is an eggless cake, it is easy to swap yogurt and butter for any plant based yogurt and butter.

How long does Lebanese semolina cake keep?

Up to five days stored in a air tight container at room temperature.

Is Namoura gluten free?

No. Since semolina is made from durum wheat, it is not gluten free.

More Lebanese Desserts (Arabic Sweets):

Knafeh

Sfouf- Lebanese Cake

Baklava

Milk Pudding- Mahalabia

Lebanese Rice Pudding- Riz Bi Haleeb

If you like this easy Lebanese Namoora Cake recipe or any other recipe on The Salt and Sweet Kitchen, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below!

Basbousa, Namoura, or Harissa Cake Recipe

Semolina cake recipe- Harissa semolina cake- Namoura cake

Namoura- Lebanese Semolina Cake

Yield: 24 pieces
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Namoura Cake, aka Basbousa or Harissa is a traditional Middler Eastern sweet dessert, made with semolina flour and topped with a simple sugar syrup.

Ingredients

For Sugar Syrup

Instructions

Start by making the sugar syrup:

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water over medium-high heat. Stir well.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Add lemon juice.
  4. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the rosewater, give it a quick stir.
  6. Set aside and let it completely cool down before topping your Namoura.

To Make the Namoura Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, and line a nonstick half sheet pan (17 inch x 11 inch) with parchment paper. Grease the parchment sheet with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large size bowl, whisk together the semolina, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Stir in the butter rose water or orange blossom and yogurt until combined. You might need to use your hands.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, wet your hands a little with water and spread it out evenly.
  5. Score the batter into 1-inch square or diamond shapes with a butter knife and place 1 raw almond in the center of each diamond.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sides and top are golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and pour sugar syrup evenly all over sheet cake, immediately. Cut the cake along the lines you scored. Let the cake come to room temperature to absorb the syrup before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

Notes

I like my Namoura cake slices to be thin, so I use a large  11 x 17 Inch baking sheet. You can use a smaller baking pan, just keep in mind that the cake will be a bit thicker.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 119mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g

Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

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31 Comments

  1. The way we make it in our home,(at least how I was taught) by my mom and aunties was to grease the pan with tahini (after mixing/re-emulsifying the solid and oil really well again) but sparingly (not globs but a near pearlescent coating) on all surfaces, even the sides of the pan. It isn’t bitter when cooked, especially with the syrup. Many Lebanese desserts have nut or seed in some form for flavor not just garnish.

    1. Hi! Yes, greasing the Namoura pan with tahini paste is very common. Tahini is used to prevent the namoura from sticking to the bottom of the pan. I prefer to use my “PAM” baking spray 🙂 But it’s great either way 🙂

    1. Hello Makayla,
      Thank you! I personally have not tried making gluten free Namoura, but I think Semolina flour could be replaced with oat flour. Hope this helps and you give it a try, let me know how it turns out for you.

    1. Should I use regular plain yogurt or greek yogurt? My boyfriend is Lebanese and he really loves desserts so I’m making this for him and his family. I want to make sure it tastes really good! Thank you so much!

      1. Hello Alexandria,
        I would use plain whole milk yogurt if possible. Please let me know how it turns out for you! Hope your boyfriend and his family will enjoy this Namoura 🙂

  2. Can I store the unbaked namoura in the refrigerator and bake it later? If so, how many days can I store it? How long should it be out of the refrigerator before baking?

    Thank you! Irene Burk

    1. Hello Irene,

      You can definitely make Namoura ahead and bake it later. Spread the namoura mixture in a baking sheet dish and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3-4 days. Bring to room temperature before baking. Hope this helps!

  3. I made it with half of the sugar in the syrup and the Namoura, came out great. Also it tasted even better the following day in the fridge as the flavor had chance to soak in.
    Your Sfouf recipe was also delicious and easy to follow .
    Next will try your Knafeh recipe.

    1. Thank you Mike for trying my recipes! So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed namoura and sfouf 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how knafeh will turn out as well!

  4. I tried many many namoura recipes through out the years! I came across your recipe, and immediately caught my eyes. It was very easy to follow and tasted amazing! Next I will try your sfouf and your knafeh recipe! Yummy

    1. Aww yay! So happy you enjoyed my Namoura recipe! And glad you will trying more Lebanese desserts from The Salt and Sweet Kitchen 🙂

    1. I have not tried making Namoura without yogurt before. Are you following a plant-based diet? You could try replacing it with plant-based yogurt.

  5. Making this tonight! My husband was Jordanian and I can make just about any lebanese or Jordanian food but finally found this namoura recipe! Trying to find an easy recipe for pita bread. Ty! K Swidan in Texas:)

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