Now one of the staple Eid desserts in my family, as in most other Pakistani families, is Sheer Khurma, a vermicelli and milk pudding. I make a huge pot of that pudding every year to distribute among my neighbours and to treat my friends and family at home. Besides the vermicelli pudding, I bake some cookies and cupcakes for kids or a few coffee cakes.
This year I was in a mood for something different, as was my family. Actually a few days back in Ramadan, I baked two Middle Eastern desserts, umm Ali and Basbousa, that my husband and kids fell in love with. Now they couldn’t really decided which of the two they wanted for Eid so I ended up baking them both again.
This is really the best Basbousa recipe that you will ever find! I dump everything in a bowl, mix and bake it till the top is golden and crusty, then soak this golden semolina and coconut goodness with a sweet syrup flavoured and fragranced with rose water, cardamoms and lemon.
When this cake is in the oven, the whole house smells so amazing that my kids put aside their gadgets and follow the aroma to the kitchen. Now that’s an achievement, right!
For Basbousa Cake:
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup melted butter
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
Almonds or pistachios for garnishing
For Sugar Syrup:
1+1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rose water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Seeds from two green cardamoms, crushed
This Is What You Do:
Mix semolina, coconut, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre, add melted butter and mix till the batter is crumbly.
Beat the yogurt smooth, add to the batter and mix to make a thick and somewhat stiff batter. (It won’t be like cake or brownie batter)
Generously grease a 8X8 inch square or round pan. Pour the batter into the pan. Smooth the surface with the spatula or back of a serving spoon.
Leave in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Cut into diamonds or squares. Place an almond or pistachio over each piece.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or till the top is golden and crisp.
While the cake is baking, we will prepare the sugar syrup.
Add water, sugar and cardamom to a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat till the sugar melts.
Stir in rose water and lemon juice or any other essence you prefer. You can add a cinnamon stick for aroma and flavour too if rose water is not available.
Let the syrup cool down to room temperature. Pour it over the cake in the pan. It will seem like a lot in the beginning but soon the semolina pieces will absorb all the syrup.
Serve warm or at room temperature with cream and coffee. It’s the quickest and easiest last minute dessert to make for any sweet craving or celebration dinner.