Many of the most famous Arabic sweets are only semi-sweet themselves, brought to life with a drizzle (or, if you’re like me, a bath) of sugar syrup with orange and rosewater, called atter, while still piping hot from the oven. Dousing the hot pastry or cake with attir lets the sugar and flower waters infuse every crumb with that signature ambrosial stickiness.
Namoura – this decadently sweet semolina and coconut slice, doused in syrup – is one of those.
Similar to the Sfouf I made earlier, namoura is also baked in a pan greased not with butter, but with tahini. Butter can certainly be used, but tahini adds yet another subtle layer of flavor that simply can’t be beat. And though not all recipes call for coconut, I love a little touch in mine, and included it in this recipe below.
It’s important to note that my namoura is a little different in texture to the traditional kind you’ll find in Arabic sweet shops. I used a smaller dish, which made a taller and therefore denser namoura. Generally, all of the atter syrup is poured on the finished product at once, creating a moist and very tender crumb. I decided to pour half of the syrup, and keep the remaining half for adding later, so each person could choose their level of sweetness.
The result was a slightly coarser, crumblier texture, different to the usual but spot-on with flavor and very satisfying. If you prefer the idea of a softer cake, use all the syrup at once. It will seem like a lot, but it’s worth it.
This recipe should really be called “Namoura, Take 1.” Just yesterday I was chatting with my mom in the US, telling her about my first namoura making experience. She gushed that my auntie Maha is actually the namoura queen, making one of the best she’d ever had (and knowing my mom’s sweet tooth, she had many during her days in Beirut).
So. I’m off to get auntie Maha’s recipe, which I will of course make and share here. Stay tuned.
(or, Yasmeen’s tall and dense and somewhat nontraditional but still spot-on namoura)