There is a popular Middle Eastern dessert called “Basboosa,” which is typically a cake-like dessert made from semolina.  Some people like it with cream, others with sugar syrup, others with nuts.  What I am about to give you is closer to a pudding than a cake, although I was thinking of basboosa when I made it.  This dessert is more Arab-inspired than Arab-authentic, with hints of India in the spices, but has always received positive reviews from my neighbors, so I call it a winner!


  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 cardamom cloves or 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. finely ground semolina*

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger to a boil.  Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick and cardamom cloves, if using.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and add the semolina, stirring constantly until the semolina is lightly browned.  Add the milk mixture slowly (and watch out for the steam as you pour it in).  Stir constantly and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick.

Pour the mixture into a glass dish (I find a pie pan is the right size) and let it cool.  Eat it as is, or it’s also very good with a little plain yoghurt if you want to cut down the sweetness.

*Semolina is “the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, and also used for breakfast cereals and puddings.”  It is also the basis for couscous.


  1. Love it! I love all things with semolina, love that crunch and hearty taste!

    • Semolina is another thing I knew nothing of until I got to the Middle East, but now I’m glad to have it a standard item in my cupboard. And this dessert is so easy–and is so good with a cup of tea for breakfast the next day!

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