Desserts + Sweets Recipe Index Snacks

Auntie Maha’s Namoura (Semolina Syrup Slice)


Semolina and Syrup Slice (Namoura) | Wandering Spice

Namoura is pure romance, pure pleasure, in the way only an Arabic sweet could be. It is rich and dense, semolina crumbling under the tongue, yet chewy and sweet, soaked in sticky flower syrup. Like my turmeric tea cake, the pan is greased with tahini rather than butter, mellowing each bite.

Several months ago, a weekend hankering led to spontaneous namoura baking; the result was divine, though markedly untraditional in its height and lighter texture. Shortly after, my mother mentioned that in fact, my aunt Maha is the family’s reigning queen of this dessert. Naturally, I begged my cousin Heba to extract this secret recipe from her mother.

Semolina and Syrup Slice (Namoura) | Wandering Spice

May I say, my first effort was a fine one. But this, friends, is the real deal. Though she now resides in Memphis, Tennessee, Maha’s heart remains in her native Gaza, Palestine, and it comes through in every bite of this namoura. It is traditional, gentle, and perfect. It’s just what I’d been looking for, under my nose all these years.

The recipe is easily halved, should you desire a smaller batch. The original quantities, just as Maha makes it, are included below.

P.S. it is very worth adding that Maha’s middle daughter, my cousin Nuha, is the fabulously stylish woman behind Habibi. And in February, she became a new mama! Pop over and say hello.

Auntie Maha’s Namoura (Semolina Syrup Slice)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

You don\\\\


  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 4 cups semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp butter, melted (traditionally ghee)
  • 1 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole skinless almonds
  • 3 cups qater (sugar syrup - recipe found here)
  • Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 190C / 375F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" x 11" baking pan with tahini.

Combine the semolina, sugar and 1 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl until mostly smooth.

Mix the baking soda and baking powder into the yogurt until incorporated. Add the yogurt mixture to the semolina, and mix well again.

Press the mixture into the baking pan into one even layer. Slice into squares or diamonds (about 1-1/2" squares or to your desired size), pressing an almond into the middle of each square.

Brush the top with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and bake 35 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Make the syrup (instructions here). Remove the namoura from the oven and pour the syrup all over the top. Allow to sit and absorb for 30 minutes, then serve with tea or coffee.


An original recipe by my aunt Maha Agez.

Audio pairing: Pete Rock, “A Little Soul”

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  • Reply Sandra Tatsuno 01/03/2017 at 12:12 am


    You say to use 1 TBSP (tablespoon) of baking powder. Is that correct? Never used that much in any cake/dessert recipe. Thanks! Can’t wait to try this!

  • Reply Meriam 04/01/2015 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Yasmeen, could you please say if you use fine or coarse semolina in this recipe, thanks

  • Reply Reem 19/09/2014 at 6:47 pm

    Should the syrup be hot or cold when you add it to the namoura?
    How long does it keep and where do I store leftovers, fridge or countertop?

    • Reply Doris Qamar 25/10/2014 at 2:57 am

      Hi Reem, the syrup has to be the opposite of the namoura, if the namoura is hot, then use cool syrup, if the namoura is cool, use hot syrup. At least that’s how my mom always did it, and she taught me to do the same. Not sure of the reason though.

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  • Reply Nuha 30/05/2013 at 9:23 am

    You are the sweetest. So glad that you liked mom’s recipe! Now, I’m craving namoura, but the one with a layer of cheese. Have you ever tried it?

    p.s. thanks for the shout out! love you!


  • Reply Needful Things 20/05/2013 at 5:02 am

    Greasing the pan with Tahini … now that’s something I’ve never heard of. I’ve not tried to make namoura though have made something similar. Now I’m intrigued enough to try this out really soon!

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  • Reply Mr. & Mrs. P 07/05/2013 at 1:58 am

    Lookes delicious… Love the semolina!

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks guys! Semolina is a favorite of mine as well.

  • Reply Lisa the Gourmet Wog 06/05/2013 at 11:38 pm

    My favourite! I adore any dessert with semolina. Your family recipe looks wonderful

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:03 pm

      So glad you like it, Lisa. We love semolina as well. I should mention the fine semolina works best for this recipe.

  • Reply Chef in disguise 06/05/2013 at 2:40 pm

    I love namoura and a family recipe is a must try! I can’t wait to give this a try Yasmeen

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks Sawsan! Do you make it often at home?

  • Reply Hannah 06/05/2013 at 12:48 pm

    I love when you make desserts. Particularly when they involve nuts. And family love. And your words. And when are you coming to visit me/the U.S.?

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:04 pm

      And I love when you leave such sweet notes, you darling person. I have some super secret plans in the works, travel-wise… I’ll e-mail you! I would love to meet up.

      • Reply Hannah 08/05/2013 at 1:39 am

        Oh my golly, I said that as a wishful joke, and now I’m completely excited. Email me fo’sure, my dear!

  • Reply Tutti Dolci 06/05/2013 at 1:09 am

    I’ve never had the chance to try Namoura but it sounds like an exquisite treat!

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:04 pm

      It’s syrupy and sweet and crunchy and soft… quite a complex little dessert for being so simple to make.

  • Reply Monica 06/05/2013 at 12:37 am

    This is gorgeous and looks incredibly moist. I think you did your Auntie Maha proud. I love learning about Middle Eastern desserts like these.

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks, Monica, I hope she’s proud! I earned my cousin’s seal of approval, which is a pretty good start 😉

  • Reply Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 05/05/2013 at 11:04 pm

    This reminds me of my travels to the Middle East! Such a fantastic destination for food like this. I always looked forward to dessert! 😛

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:05 pm

      Fantastic that this conjured up memories of your travels. Which reminds me I should go back and read your posts about those trips!

  • Reply Rosa May 05/05/2013 at 10:13 pm

    A delightful cake! That is a speciality I adore.



    • Reply Yasmeen 07/05/2013 at 8:06 pm

      I never knew you were a namoura lover, Rosa. We certainly have that in common.

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