Syrian poet, Adonis explains from his point of view the key differences between Arab and European thinking. Posted because it's an interesting viewpoint and there appear to be very few Arab public thoughts on this subject.
Basboosa [bas-boo-sa] or semolina cake is a classic sweet found across the Arab world. This particular recipe is based upon one taken from the recently published, 'Sweets of Arabia', by Egyptian sweet maker Osama El Sayed and which is published by E L Sage Associates, in VL, USA (ISBN: 9780615384184).
I've changed the recipe given by Osama into my own version of this classic Middle-Eastern sweet (indicated by the words, 'suggest' or 'rather than'). I've also changed the quantities for the ingredients into metric as the American cup system didn't seem to make any sense (I had no idea what a cup was/is, in quantity terms).
butter for greasing cake pan
168g [6oz, or 3/4 cup] milk (suggest substituting milk for coconut milk, according to taste)
61 g [2.15 oz, or 1/4 cup] plain yogurt
350g [12.25 oz, or 1 3/4 cups] sugar (suggest substituting some for vanilla sugar)
400g semolina [15 oz, or 2 1/2 cups] semolina flour (suggest using semolina grains for texture)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla essence (rather than the 1/2 teaspoon suggested)
100g [11 oz, or 1/3 cup] melted, clarfied butter/ghee (rather than the 1/2 cup suggested)
1 1/2 cups candided fruit (suggest adding orange zest too if making the orange flavoured version)
31g [1.1 oz, or 1/3 cup] shredded coconut (suggest using desiccated coconut for texture)
As an Alternative
1 - suggest slivered almonds and apricots for topping
2 - suggest using orange flavouring, instead of vanilla
3 - suggest adding a tiny ammount of turmeric or saffron to colour the cake
4 - a savory Indian version can be made of the cake using grated carrots, peas, green beans, grated ginger, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Grease a cake pan of choice (8"x12" or individual mini-muffin cups. Warm the ghee in a saucepan so it melts, but doesn't boil.
In a large bowl combine the milk and sugar, stir together to disolve the sugar completely (suggest using an electric mixer). In another bowl, mix the yogurt and baking soda together and leave until the yogurt has doubled in size.
Add the semolina flour and vanilla to the milk and sugar mix and stir until well combined (again, suggest using an electric mixer). Stir in the melted clarified butter/ghee and mix until smooth.
Add the yogurt and baking soda mix to the semolina, milk and sugar mix and combine. Then add the candied fruits and cocount and mix well.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, ensuring the top surface is smooth. (suggest the depth of the batter is no more than 1" thick - the traditional way).
If using the 8x12 pan bake for 35 mins, if making mini muffins bake for 20 mins or until golden brown.
remove cake pans from oven and cool. Do not remove cake from tin until cool. If using the 8"x12" tin, cut in to diamond shapes. Remove from pan, place on plate and place slivered almonds and or apricots on top. If making the orange version, suggest placing slivered candided oranges on top.
This particular recipe tastes far better on day 2 or 3, rather than being eaten hot straight from the oven.
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