Busbusa (Semolina cake)

Busbusa, spelt in many different ways is a very special dessert/tea-time snack much favoured in Middle Eastern countries.  I have been lucky enough to have tried it in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Jerusalem to name a few, of course as with many recipes, there are a variety of methods to make it.

Our family is lucky to have a lovely sister-in-law who hails from Saudi Arabia now residing in California.  She brings with her many very Arabic recipes that she happily shares with us, this version of busbusa is one of her many specialities.


  • 2 cups semolina
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain yoghurt mixed with 1/4 cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1 cup almonds or other nuts
  • For sugar syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • half cup water
  • 2 tbs lemon/lime juice
  • some saffron strands (optional) 


  1. Switch on oven to GM 4-5/180.
  2. Put the semolina, baking powder, salt, sugar and cardamom into a deep bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the oil, eggs and yoghurt/water mixture, mix well with a fork then add to the above dry ingredients and mix again until a cake like batter is formed.
  4. Pour the batter into a shallow baking tray (10inx12in) to provide a one inch thickness, gently place a whole almond or cashew nut on top of the mixture in the corner, then another one an inch apart, carry on until the whole surface is covered with nuts.
  5. Bake for 20-30 mins (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and cooked through, switch off oven, you can further brown the top under a hot grill if needed.
  6. Put the sugar into a small pan, add the water, lemon/lime juice and saffron if using, bring to the boil, keep on a rolling boil for 2-3 minutes, switch off and keep aside.
  7. Remove the baked busbusa from the oven and carefully pour the sugar mixture over it to cover the whole surface (both things should be hot).
  8. Cool for 20 mins to let the syrup seep through, cut into diamond or square shapes so that there is one whole nut in each piece, remove into a serving dish.
  9. Leftovers (if there are any!) can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature 


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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