Namoura (Semolina Cake)

5 from 50 votes

Whether you call it Namoura, Basbousa, or just Semolina cake this recipe will delight. Made with semolina flour, almonds, and topped with a simple syrup.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

If you’re looking for an authentic and delicious Lebanese cake, look no further than Namoura. This semolina cake is made with ghee, almonds, and topped with a simple syrup that will make your taste buds sing! It’s perfect for any occasion and made with a few ingredients. Ready to get started? Here’s how to make Namoura at home!

Recipe after cooling and a few pieces removed from pan and on a small white plate off to the side
Want to save this recipe?
Just type your email below and I’ll send it to you. And as a bonus you’ll get delicious new recipes from me!

This semolina cake has a few different names depending on the Middle Eastern region it’s from. In Lebanon, we call it Namoura, but it also goes by Basbousa or Basboosa (which often uses coconut flakes) in many parts of the Middle East. It’s also referred to as Harissa or Shamali, and I’m certain a few other names as well!

Growing up, this was one of the most nostalgic desserts that my mom made, especially for holidays, gatherings, and special dinners. This recipe is passed down from her and my aunt. You’ll often see it included in a dessert spread during the month of Ramadan.

why you’ll love this semolina cake

  • Simple to make, big on flavor. Buttery, soft, and spongy with a slight crunch from the toasted almonds on top. The homemade simple syrup gives it a lovely sweetness that’s not overpowering.
  • The texture is moist, but dense at the same time. Similar to a pound cake or even cornbread. It’s drenched in a sugar syrup that soaks through every nook and cranny of the cake. The result is an incredibly moist and fragrant cake that’s irresistible!
  • Crowd Pleaser. This cake is always a hit with family and friends. It’s perfect for Eid celebrations, parties, or any occasion where you want to impress your guests with a delicious and unique dessert.

what is semolina

Semolina is a coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat. It’s used in pasta, couscous, pastries, and also as a thickener for soups and sauces. For this cake recipe, you’ll want to use coarse semolina flour which is more like a powder.

Ingredients to make Namoura

  • Semolina Flour: This is the key ingredient in Namoura and what gives it its signature texture. You can find semolina flour at most Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, you can order it Amazon.
  • Ghee: Feel free to use clarified butter or just melted butter. The only problem with using melted butter is that it contains extra water, which may settle on top of the cake mixture. Still, it’s completely fine to use in a pinch.
  • Tahini: The tahini is just used to coat the bottom of the pan. It’s not only a good fat that prohibits the cake from sticking to the pan, but it allows adds a nutting flavor. Feel free to skip it and use ghee instead.
  • Blanched almonds: I always like to use blanched almonds because they provide a nice crunch, and they don’t have almond skins. You can find them at most grocery stores in the baking aisle, or online.
  • Sugar: You’ll need granulated sugar for both the simple syrup and the cake batter.
  • Milk: I always use whole milk because it makes for a richer cake, but you can certainly use low-fat milk if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Lemon juice: The lemon juice is just used to add a touch of acidity to the simple syrup. It helps balance
  • Orange blossom water: This is a common ingredient used in Middle Eastern desserts. It’s what gives the cake its lovely floral aroma. You can find it at most Middle Eastern markets or online.
Ingredients for recipe in individual bowls: ghee, milk, baking powder, almonds, lemon, semolina flour, sugar, and tahini

How to make Semolina Cake

Don’t be intimated by the number of steps. This cake is actually quite simple to make! I just like to break down the process so it’s easy to follow.

Prepare the namoura batter

  1. In a bowl, mix together the semolina, sugar, and ghee or butter until well combined
  2. Add the milk and baking powder and continue mixing until the batter comes together.
  3. Allow mixture to rest covered and you’ll notice it will thicken.
3 image collage of how to mix dough for recipe and after it has rested

Add to Baking Dish & bake

  1. Brush the tahini on the bottom of a baking dish.
  2. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Wet your palms with water and spread the mixture evenly with your hands.
  3. Cut the semolina cake into diamonds. Place an almond into each diamond.
  4. Bake until golden brown.
4 image collage of preparing recipe in square baking pan and cutting the diamonds with a piece of almond on each section

Add Syrup After Baking

  • Immediately after baking Namoura, make sure to add cool simple syrup all over. While the cake is hot, it will absorb all the sugary syrup instantly to help enhance the flavor like a sponge. If you let it cool down first, the syrup will just sit on top of the cake.
Simple syrup being poured over namoura as soon as it comes out of the oven

Tips for making Namoura At Home

  1. Use coarse semolina. You’ll find that there are different types of semolina: fine and course. The texture of the semolina matters because the fine one will create a more smooth, compact cake, while the coarse one is more iconic of the crumbly airy texture of namoura.
  2. Don’t skip the resting part. This time allows the semolina to absorb the liquid in the batter and soften. You’ll notice that after resting, the batter will thicken.
  3. Use your hands to smooth out the batter before baking. This is not the type of cake that will settle into a perfect shape in the oven. So it’s important to spread the mixture evenly, and it’s easier to do it with damp hands. You can use water or even a little rose water on your palms.
  4. Cut the namoura before baking. Similar to cutting baklava before baking, this technique allows the simple syrup that you’ll pour on top of the cake immediately after baking to get fully absorbed into every bite of cake. You may need to re-cut the slices again though, after baking.
  5. Use the almonds as an indication of doneness. This is a little trick my mom taught me to know exactly when the namoura is ready. When the almond becomes golden brown, it’s time to remove it from the oven.
  • Add coconut flakes. This is a very popular method of making namoura or basbousa (as we call it when coconut is added) that adds sweetness, more texture, and a little crunch.
  • Switch out the almonds with pistachios. You can make this namoura recipe with pistachios instead of almonds if you’d like.
  • Replace the milk with yogurt. You can also use yogurt instead of milk to make this cake. It will add a little bit of tanginess and make the cake moister. Instead of ¾ cup of milk, use 1 cup of yogurt.
  • Use rose water instead of orange blossom. If you have rose water on hand, you can use it in place of orange blossom water.
Plate of 3 diamonds and fork cutting into one of them showing the texture of dish

how to store Namoura

Namoura will last for about three days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you want it to last even longer, you can store it in the fridge.

how long will semolina cake last in the fridge?

Semolina cake will last for about five days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

can i freeze semolina cake?

Yes! You can freeze semolina cake for up to three months. Be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before freezing.

When you’re ready to eat it, thaw the cake overnight in the fridge, and then bring it to room temperature before serving.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use a different flour other than semolina to make Namoura?

No. Why? Because then it will no longer be namoura. Namoura is made with semolina flour, and that’s what gives it its signature texture and flavor. You can use all of the ingredients with a different flour if you choose to, but it will not be namoura.

How do I know if the namoura is done baking?

The best way to tell if namoura is done baking is by its color and the edges of pan. You’ll notice a golden brown color all over the namoura and golden brown almonds which is an indication of doneness. Also, if the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, then it’s probably done.

Is namoura gluten-free?

No, because it is made with semolina flour, which is a type of wheat flour, this recipe is not gluten-free.

Close up shot of namoura on plate with fork cutting into it

There you have it, friends! Now you know how to make namoura or basbousa, a delicious Lebanese semolina cake. This recipe has been passed down to me from my mom and I love making it when I miss home. I hope you try making this recipe for your friends and family.

More lebanese desserts:

If you try this feel good Namoura recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

preorder MY book

The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook is now available everywhere books are sold!


Whether you call it Namoura, Basbousa, or just Semolina cake this recipe will delight. Made with semolina flour, almonds, and topped with a simple syrup.
5 from 50 votes
Servings 18 servings
Course Dessert
Calories 260
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes


Simple Syrup


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the semolina, sugar and ghee until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the milk and baking powder and continue mixing until batter comes together, 1-2 more minutes.
  • Allow mixture to rest covered for 45 minutes to soften the semolina.
  • Meanwhile, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the orange blossom water and lemon juice. Pour syrup into a heat proof container and allow to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the tahini on the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Wet your palms with water and spread the mixture evenly with your hands.
  • Cut the semolina cake into diamonds by making 5 cuts lengthwise and 8 cuts crosswise on the diagonal. Place an almond into each diamond. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  • Pour the cold simple syrup on top of the hot semolina cake as soon as you remove it from the oven. Allow the cake to cool for at least one hour before serving.


Storage: This semolina cake will keep at room temperature for up to three days and in the refrigerator for up to five. 


Calories: 260kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 122mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 11IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating


    1. So sorry you are having trouble! Two questions, did you let the batter rest? Also, did you add the cooled syrup to the cake while it was still warm?





    1. So happy you enjoyed it! Did you cut the cake before baking it? Only other advice I have is to make sure it’s fully cool before slicing.

  2. Oh my gosh I don’t know you but I adore you! I have been rattling my mind trying to remember this recipe. Mum always coated it with tahini and would argue the point not to use egg, coconut or yogurt the way the cheat versions do so. Thank you so much for having this up, I’m in tears of happiness knowing I have it I lost my cook book which mum provided her recipes thanks to my gorgeous small kids and I can’t ask mum as she’s too far into her dementia so this means the world.

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I am so glad you landed on my site. It means a lot to me knowing the recipe is close to your heart!

  3. Can I pour batter in tahini brushed baking pan and let it rest in it and then bake it??TIA:)))🥹

    1. All I was able to find was Semolina Flour No 1 Durum Wheat, not course by Bob’s Red Hill. Will that work. I have 50 guest to feed Saturday and I’m sure they never tasted anything like this and it’s my first time making it. I may need to make something similar GF so I’m wondering if I could substitute the Semolina flour for something else like Coconut flour. I know that at this point, it’s not Namoura anymore but I don’t believe they’ll know anyways. I just don’t want to leave GF out.

      1. I think the Semolina Flour will work, but I’ve never tried it, so it’s up to you to experiment with it. I think it might end up being too fine and more like a cake texture instead of the iconic crumb texture that Namoura has. Also, I’ve never tried it with gluten-free flour, but why don’t you make my Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies? They’re made with almond flour.

        1. Thank you for helping me out with your response. So this cake holds together well without eggs especially since I’m using find Semolina flour?

          1. This recipe with the Semolina Flour turned out to be absolutely delicious. Everyone loved it. It sill had a granny texture in it but it was perfect as it was. I lower the sugar content a bit. They didn’t know the difference so the best part about this treat opportunity was that it became a conversation peace. I will make it again with the course Semolina next time.

          2. So glad it turned out well with the Semolina Flour! I really appreciate you coming back to let me know, too. It’s so helpful for others that find themselves in the same situation.

          3. Just wanted to confirm that I ran into the same issue and made my cake with fine semolina and it was still crumbly!

            I also had trouble finding orange blossom water at any of the grocers near me. If you’re in the same situation, you can add lemon and orange zest to your simple syrup in the last minute of heating it, which gives a lovely (though not the most authentic) citrus note.

            Thank you for the lovely recipe – excited to try it again when u gave all the right ingredients 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this one.

    Two questions:
    1. How critical is it to grease the pan with tahini instead of butter or ghee?
    2. Is orange blossom a key ingredient for the taste?


    1. The tahini is definitely not critical but adds a unique nutty toasted taste to the crust. Butter or ghee is perfectly fine! And the orange blossom again just gives it a unique floral citrusy flavor that balances the nuttiness of the tahini but is also not technically needed. I think without the tahini and without the orange blossom water though, you may find the cake to have a pretty neutral taste otherwise.


    I am not talking about about desiccated coconut.

    Fresh from my yard, coconut🙃

    1. I have yet to try that, but it could be worth a try! You will probably have to dry it out, so it doesn’t affect the texture of the cake. Let me know how it turns out if you decide to give it a try!

  6. This was delicious! I ran out of butter so I substituted with coconut oil and it was so delicious! I added rose and orange blossom water and it was so tasty!